By Bjorn Fehrm
June 9, 2023, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to Part 16. Airframe with lower induced drag. It discusses in detail the Truss Braced Wing type of airframe that increases the practical wing span of an aircraft and thus reduces induced drag.
By Scott Hamilton
June 5, 2023, © Leeham News: Boeing continues to face a plethora of paperwork to certify the 737 MAX 7 this year. Officials hope to certify the largest member of the family next year, but won’t commit to this goal.
And there is no reason, at this time, to believe the 777-9 will require an entirely new type certificate despite major changes to the airplane.
So says Mike Fleming, senior vice president-Development Programs and Customer Support. Fleming made his remarks at Boeing’s media briefing on May 31 in advance of the Paris Air Show, which beings in two weeks.
By Scott Hamilton
June 1, 2023, © Leeham News: Boeing CEO David Calhoun remains upbeat about the company’s future despite occasional setbacks and a struggling defense unit.
But in a media briefing on May 30 in advance of the Paris Air Show, he was resolute that progress is being toward a full recovery from the “existential” threats posed in recent years by the 737 MAX crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boeing is still recovering from these events, as well as a delivery pause of nearly two years of the flagship 787 and political tensions with China that began in 2017 when President Donald Trump imposed trade sanctions, thus beginning a trade war with one of Boeing’s most important markets.
China still has not resume deliveries of the MAX, a combination of the MAX grounding from 2019-2021, the trade war and a slow recovery from COVID. Boeing has an inventory of about 230 MAXes from the grounding; 140 of these are destined for China.
There is also an inventory of about 90 787s, the residual from a production quality issue that Boeing discovered. Officials forecast that it will be the end of 2024 before both inventories are cleared.
At a separate investors conference last week sponsored by the boutique company Wolfe, CFO Brian West reaffirmed free cash flow forecasts of about $10bn by the 2025 time frame. Guidance for production rates of 38 a month for the 737 by the end of this year and 50 by around 2025 and 5/mo for the 787 by year end and 10/mo by 2025 remain intact.
By Scott Hamilton
May 31, 2023, © Leeham News: Charleston (SC)—Boeing is gearing up to add a second production line for the 787 here at what was once the second line to the Everett (WA) plant.
When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, the Everett line was closed and production was consolidated here. Peak production between the two plants was 14/mo, with seven at each facility. Even before the pandemic, the rate was trimmed to 12/mo. With the pandemic, and airlines refusing to take any airplanes of any times as passenger traffic all but disappeared, production was slashed to 3/mo.
Then, when a production quality issue was discovered, deliveries were halt and production was slashed again, to a mere one-half 787 per month.
Deliveries restarted last year and the production rate returned to 3/mo. At a media briefing yesterday, In advance of the Paris Air Show, the VP and GM of the 787 program, Lane Ballard, announced the rate is going to 4/mo. By year end, Boeing will boost the rate to 5/mo. Boeing previously announced plans to boost the rate to 10/mo by 2025.
In a tour of the production line, the media saw early construction of a second assembly line in the 787 plant as Boeing prepares to add a second line for that previously announced 10 airplane per month, up from a peak of seven. But the Charleston plant has room for more than 10 airplanes per month.
By Scott Hamilton
May 29, 2023, © Leeham News: Procurement of a new round of US Air Force aerial refueling tankers resulted in a shift in strategy driven by new threat assessments, a service spokesperson tells LNA.
“The Next Generation Air-Refueling System (NGAS) is being accelerated due to threats. Therefore, the Air Force is no longer pursuing the original envisioned tanker strategy,” an Air Force spokesperson said in an email on May 22.
“However, we know that between KC-46A (179 aircraft on current contract) and an accelerated NGAS, we still need uninterrupted tanker recapitalization. Therefore, we are working on validated requirements and a finalized Business Case Analysis (BCA) for this tanker before making a final decision later this year whether or not we’ll hold a competition for aircraft (approximately 75) as the gap filler to ensure uninterrupted tanker recapitalization. Andrew Hunter, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics provided this update on March 7 during a media roundtable at the AFA Warfare Symposium.”
Initially, the Air Force posited that the next round of tanker contracts would be for around 160 aircraft. Originally, the procurement, called KC-Y, was expected to be an advanced tanker design. Then it shifted to a “bridge” procurement for an existing tanker. Now called NGAS, the procurement concept is reduced to 75 tankers.
Boeing favors a sole-source, follow-on order. Unsurprisingly, Lockheed Martin Co. (LMCO) favors a competition.
Boeing currently has contracts for up to 179 767-based KC-46As. Airbus has delivered about 50 MRTTs worldwide. Boeing has delivered more than 60 KC-46As worldwide, nearly all so far to the USAF.
By Bjorn Fehrm
May 26, 2023, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to Part 14. Airframe for lower friction drag. It discusses in detail the Blended Wing Body (BWB) type of airframe that shall reduce the airframe wetted area and thus air friction drag.
May 23, 2023, © Leeham News: Decisions by the US Air Force in Washington (DC) on whether to require competition for its next round of aerial refueling tanker aircraft are still months away.
But so far, the USAF technical group at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton (OH) is proceeding as if there will be a competitive battle. At stake is an order for more than 160 tankers.
Boeing thinks this will be a sole-source, follow-on order for its KC-46A, based on the commercial 767-200ER. Lockheed Martin Co (LMCO), partnering with Airbus, wants to see a version of the Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), based on the commercial A330-200.
So far, the secretary of the Air Force publicly said he is leaning toward a sole-source follow-on order.
I visited LMCO last month to talk about the tanker competition. We also talked about the C-130J and its new commercial model, as well as other defense programs.
By Scott Hamilton
May 22, 2023, © Leeham News: The US Air Force is moving slowly toward another aerial refueling tanker procurement. With hundreds of ancient Boeing KC-135 tankers still to replace, the procurement will be a big one: more than 160 jets.
The big question that is as yet unresolved is whether the Air Force will place a follow-on, sole-source order with Boeing, or seek a competitive bake-off. If it’s the latter, a bid by Lockheed Martin Co. (LMCO) will be the competition. (Others may submit a bid, but the Boeing-Lockheed face-off will be the one to watch.)
LMCO partnered with Airbus to offer the A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport). This sets up a third Boeing-Airbus contest that could well be as bitter as the two previous ones. Make no mistake: although Lockheed will be the company submitting the bid, Airbus will become the target. It already has. Boeing surrogates lost no time in attacking Airbus after LMCO announced it will submit a bid, using the same old tired illegal subsidies claims and adding some new ones.
One surrogate questioned Airbus’ safety record. This was an astounding line of attack, considering the Boeing 737 MAX history and all the scandals that emerged in its development; and the 2013 grounding of the Boeing 787 for safety reasons. Airbus has never had a fleet type grounded by regulators for safety reasons traced to the design of the aircraft. (India’s regulator grounded A320neos equipped with Pratt & Whitney GTF engines due to issues related to the engine durability.)
More relevant is whether it makes economic and financial sense for the Air Force to have two primary tanker fleets: Boeing’s KC-46A and the A330 MRTT. LNA visited LMCO last month in Marietta (GA), the location of much of its defense business. It’s where the LMXT, as Lockheed calls its offering, will be militarized after production at Airbus’ Mobile (AL) aerospace complex should LMCO win the contract—if the procurement is competed.
LNA tomorrow will discuss some of the history of previous procurements.
May 19, 2023, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we looked at the different drag types (Figure 1) that reduce an airframe’s efficiency.
We now look at the major drag types in more detail and what can be done to reduce them. We start with the dominant drag, skin friction drag.
By Scott Hamilton and Bjorn Fehrm
May 8, 2023, © Leeham News: India’s GoFirst Airlines filed for bankruptcy last week. The carrier pointed to around 29 of its 50 Pratt & Whitney Geared TurboFan-powered Airbus A320neos being grounded as the reason.
The aircraft have been grounded for months. Despite negotiations with PW and a favorable arbitration ruling, GoFirst says PW failed to provide replacement engines. As a result, GoFirst paid about $196m in lease rates for the grounded aircraft, without being able to fly them for revenue.
Lufthansa Group last week complained that a third of its Swiss Airbus A220 fleet, also powered by the GTF, are likewise grounded with technical issues. As LNA previously reported, Air Baltic, Egyptair and Air Senegal also have A220s grounded. Iraqi Airlines has some A220s that are grounded. And now there’s news that Embraer E195-E2s at KLM’s regional airline are also grounded due to GTF issues.
India’s Indigo Airlines also has a large number of A320neos grounded with GTF problems. About 11% of the nearly 3,000 A320neos in service are grounded or fly one a week, an Aviation Week analysis revealed.
PW’s reputation was already badly damaged before the GoFirst bankruptcy. However, an LNA analysis shows that forward orders for engines on the A320neo already were suffering.