FAA recertifies Boeing 737 MAX

  • Continuing coverage in next post

By Bjorn Fehrm

November 18, 2020, ©. Leeham News: The FAA has declared the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 safe to fly after a 20 months grounding. On March 10, 2019, the Ethiopian Air ET302 crashed after Boeing’s pitch augmentation software MCAS triggered erroneously and caused the aircraft to crash. This accident followed a similar accident of Lion Air JT610 on October 29, 2018.

Ethiopia grounded the MAX on the day, China the day after, and the FAA on March 13. The 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since the FAA grounding.

It has been a gruesome 20 months for Boeing, where it’s gone from denial of guilt to a full acceptance of responsibility and a complete change of attitude. With changes to the MAX verified by FAA, EASA, Transport Canada, and Brazil’s ANAC, it’s now ready to fly again.

We will cover the return to flight of the 737 MAX in several articles, the first dealing with the question: Is the 737 MAX safe to fly?

Below we go through what went wrong and why this chain of events will not happen again on an updated 737 MAX.

Read more

Podcast: 10 Minutes About the 737 MAX Return to Service

Nov. 18, 2020, © Leeham News: LNA today launches a new feature, a periodic podcast about key issues of the moment.

Called “10 Minutes About,” the podcast is—as the title says—10 minutes about the issue selected. This time frame is short, to the point and doesn’t take too much time from the listener.

Today’s launch podcast is 10 Minutes About the 737 MAX Return to Service. The US Federal Aviation Administration today recertified the MAX.

Read more

Pontifications: EU tariffs on Boeing airplanes in effect; ~60 at risk

Nov. 16, 2020, © Leeham News: The European Union implemented tariffs Nov. 9 on Boeing and other US products in retaliation for the Trump Administration tariffs on Airbus and EU products.

By Scott Hamilton

This is the latest in the 16-year trade battle between the US and Europe over subsidies and tax breaks found to be illegal under World Trade Organization rules.

The US was authorized last year to impose tariffs on Airbus and other EU products. The Trump Administration initially imposed a 10% tariff on imported Airbus aircraft. A320/321s assembled at Airbus’ Mobile (AL) plant were exempt, even though major components were imported.

Trump increased the tariffs to 15% in March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted worldwide. As a result, few Airbus airplanes were delivered into the US since then.

Read more

HOTR: Don’t get over-optimistic on COVID-19 vaccine news

By the Leeham News team

Nov. 10, 2020, © Leeham News: Pfizer yesterday announced it’s on track to produce a COVID-19 vaccine that appears to be 90% effective in trials. The company is one of the world’s leading drug makers.

This is good news.

But before jumping to the old cliché about a light at the end of the tunnel, LNA’s Judson Rollins cautions, do the math.

“Read the fine print at the end of the press release,” Rollins says.

“Based on current projections, we expect to produce globally up to 50m vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3b doses in 2021,” the press release says.

“It’s a two-dose vaccine, so divide by two to figure the number of people who could be immunized,” Rollins says. “Even if a second candidate is approved and can be produced in the same quantity next year, that means just 17% of the world’s population will be vaccinated. And that assumes everything goes according to plan.”

Rollins did an extensive analysis of how quickly global air traffic would return to normal. In his July 13 post, Rollins projected that traffic won’t fully recover until 2024 at the earliest or 2028 at the latest. It all depends on how quickly a vaccine was developed, how quickly it could be distributed globally and how quickly people had confidence in it.

“We’re in only the second or maybe third inning of a very long ball game,” Rollins says. “Vaccines kill off a virus by denying it bodies in which to reproduce. If you don’t innoculate enough of the population while immunity lasts, you’re back to square one.”

Read more

Boeing needs 737 replacement launch by 2026 if not sooner

Subscription Required

By Scott Hamilton

Introduction

Nov. 9, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing needs hundreds of new orders for the 737 MAX and/or a new replacement program launch by 2026, if not sooner.

An analysis shows that 737 deliveries tank by 2028.

This isn’t just about the 737-10 and 737-9, which don’t fare well against the Airbus A321neo. The shrinking backlog is the problem.

Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, said last week Boeing will delay delivery/entry into service of the 737-10 MAX by up to two years.

This largely stated the obvious.

The first 10 MAX rolled out of the factory Nov. 22 last year. It could not enter flight testing because the MAX family was grounded March 13. The MAX remains grounded. Recertification may come this month, but it appears more likely next month.

Boeing 737-10. Source: Boeing.

This delays the start of flight testing until probably January. This is a 14-month delay.

Flight testing will take a year to 15 months, or to January to March 2022—about two years after the planned EIS. Boeing’s production ramp up will further impact delivery of the 10 MAX.

Although some recent new focus was on the 10 MAX, the larger issue is the entire 737 family.

Summary
  • Production ramp up will be slow.
  • Inventory will take two years to clear.
  • Airline demand is poor the next 2-3 years.
  • Boeing’s breadwinner sees major delivery drop from 2026.
  • A further drop by 2028 demonstrates need for a 737 replacement—not just an A321 competitor.

Read more

Pontifications: Certification timing may push EIS for 777X

Nov. 2, 2020, © Leeham News: Throughout the 737 MAX investigations and recertification process, former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said there would be no delay on 777X certification.

By Scott Hamilton

On Boeing’s earnings call last week, Muilenburg’s successor, David Calhoun, said there could be.

“On the 777X, we continue to work with the regulators on certification work scope, including reflecting the learnings from the 737 cert process,” Calhoun said. “As with any development program, there are inherent risks that can affect schedule. And while we continue to drive toward entry into service in 2022, this timing will ultimately be influenced by certification requirements defined by the regulators.”

Boeing is certifying the 777X under the Changed Product Rule, the same process used for the MAX. Certification is being pursued as a derivative of the 777, a point of scrutiny on the MAX.

Read more

Pontifications: Earnings previews Airbus, Boeing; Watching Mitsubishi

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 26, 2020, © Leeham News: It’s earnings call week for Boeing and Airbus.

And Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is said to plan an announcement “freezing” development of the SpaceJet.

Let’s preview these events.

Read more

Lessors to Take Growing Share of Fleeting the Future

By Kathryn B. Creedy

Air Lease Executive Chair Steven Udvar Hazy expects lessors to play a larger role in aircraft fleeting in the future, according to comments made during yesterday’s Aviation Week Fireside Chat with the lessor.

“I don’t see lessors going below 40%,” he told Air Transport World Editor Karen Walker. “I see it creeping up to perhaps 50% or 55% and that includes operating leases and various other exotic mechanisms.”

Udvar Hazy pointed to the poor financial shape of the world’s airlines which have used all their current levers to increase liquidity to ride out the Covid 19 crisis.

Read more

Alaska Airlines may keep leased Airbus fleet

By Olivier Bonnassies

Airfinance Journal

Oct. 9, 2020, (c) Airfinance Journal: Alaska Airlines is believed to be working on a solution regarding its narrowbody fleet composition after initial talks failed with lessors regarding an early phase-out of Airbus A320-family aircraft.The US carrier approached leasing companies in the summer with a large request for proposals (RFP) to replace its entire leased current-generation A320-family fleet with Boeing 737-800, -900ER, Max 8 and Max 9 models over the next few years.

Alaska Airlines may keep a mixed fleet of Airbus A320s and 737s at least through 2025. Lessors are balking at early returns. Photo: Alaska Airlines.

According to Airfinance Journal‘s Fleet Tracker, Alaska has 10 A319s with leases expiring between 2021 and 2023. Another 41 A320s have leases expiring between 2020 and 2025.

But the objective of the RFP is to accelerate the exit of the carrier’s 51 A320-family aircraft ahead of lease expirations as well as sell 10 owned A320s that were manufactured in 2015 and 2016.

But leasing sources talking to Airfinance Journal say the approach was not “well received”.

“They may keep those aircraft to scheduled redelivery dates,” says one lessor.

Read more

With 787 FAL closing and 747 production ending, what does Boeing do with massive space in Everett?

Subscription Required

By Scott Hamilton and Bryan Corliss

Introduction

Oct. 1, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing is expected to announce as early as today that it will consolidate the 787 final assembly lines into one at its Charleston (SC) plant.

Footprint of Boeing Everett final assembly building. This map is somewhat outdated but a current one is not available. Source: Seattle Times.

Reuters reported last week the decision to consolidate production in Charleston was made. The Wall Street Journal Tuesday night also reported this decision, saying the decision could be announced this week.

The Everett (WA) line is expected to close as production of the 787 falls below seven a month. Boeing previously announced the rate will fall from a peak of 14/mo to 6/mo by 2022.

With the closure of the 747 line in Everett slated for 2022, this will open huge bays in Everett. Nearly half the world’s largest building by volume will be empty. Given lower production rates because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 777 lines will be woefully underutilized.

Overhead costs probably can’t be absorbed by the remaining low-rate production 767/KC-46A and 777 lines. Boeing warned in its 2Q2020 10Q SEC filing that the 787 and 777 lines face a forward loss depending on production rates of other lines.

With no New Midmarket Airplane (NMA) being contemplated to fill the empty bays, what can Boeing do to utilize these massive spaces and retain profitability of Everett?

A radical solution is moving the 737 line from Renton to Everett. This means Renton would close well before the 2033 date LNA predicts and selling off the property for commercial development.


Related stories


Read more