HOTR: Lockheed reveals tanker info: it’s all about America

Sept. 21, 2021, © Leeham News: Lockheed Martin (LMT) last week revealed its dedicated product launch web site page of the LMXT aerial refuel tanker. The LMXT uses the Airbus A330 MRTT as the platform for the US Air Force’s KC-Y competition for which initial information requests have been issued.

LMT and Airbus partnered in 2018 in anticipation of the KC-Y program, originally intended to replace the aging Boeing (nee McDonnell Douglas) KC-10. KC-Z was to follow, an entirely new concept in aerial refueling tankers.

KC-Y is now recast as a replacement for 140-160 Boeing KC-135s. It will be a follow-on to the original KC-X program, which was won by Boeing after three tries. Boeing has 179 orders for the 767-200ER-based KC-46.

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Behind the latest Boeing CMO

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Sept. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) released its latest Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) last week. While the latest total 20-year outlook for commercial aircraft remains below 2019 (43,610 vs. 44,040), it increased by 500 units compared to the previous year.

BCA highlights the headline number of aircraft deliveries to point out the bright long-term growth prospects for the commercial aviation market. The report states that the COVID-19 pandemic erased two years’ worth of growth but did not materially affect long-term prospects.

The delivery figures rely on a large number of assumptions, including market segment and region. LNA takes a deeper look at those assumptions, notably regarding delivery and production rates.

Summary
  • Converting to more understandable metrics;
  • Assessing the impact of slower 2021 deliveries;
  • Plausibility of twin-aisle prospects for the 2020s;
  • Can production follow?

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Boeing; 20-year aircraft demand back to pre-pandemic level

By Bjorn Fehrm

September 14, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Boeing released its yearly commercial aircraft demand forecast today. Over the next 20 years, the demand for single-aisle aircraft is past pre-covid levels at more than 32,000 aircraft, with widebodies down 8% compared to 2019 at 7,500 aircraft, Figure 1.

The forecast for freighters is up at 890 aircraft making a total of 43,600 aircraft until 2040, the level of the 20 years forecasts before the pandemic.

Figure 1. Boeing’s forecast of deliveries of commercial aircraft to 2030 and 2040. Source: Boeing 2021 CMO.

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Pontifications: How Airbus maneuvered Boeing into launching a re-engined 737

Sept. 13, 2021, © Leeham News: Tomorrow night the US PBS network broadcasts an hour-long special examining the Boeing 737 MAX crisis.

Here is a preview. Afterward, the show will stream on PBS’s Frontline website.

I sat for a long interview for the investigation, which was a combination of reporting by Frontline and the New York Times. I haven’t previewed the show, so I don’t know how much of my interview—if any—survived the editing. But one area of the focus of the interview was how Boeing came to develop the MAX.

Air Wars is available here.

Following the crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines five-month-old MAXes, one of the allegations that emerged was that Boeing rushed the development of the airplane.

It’s true that Boeing decided within two days to launch the MAX program. It’s not true that development was “rushed,” in the most common use of the word. Boeing developed what became known as the MAX in parallel with an entirely new airplane concept that would have replaced the 737 Next Generation airplane. It’s what Boeing does: study two or more concepts as engineers and the executives decide what the next airplane will be.

The basic design was on the shelf, ready to go when Airbus forced Boeing’s hand on the cusp of a huge order from American Airlines for the A320ceo/neo family. When Boeing learned of this, the decision was rushed, within two days, to launch the re-engined 737 rather than a new airplane design.

In my new book, published Sept. 1, Air Wars, The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, I outline just how the MAX came to be and how Airbus maneuvered Boeing into launching the program. The book is available globally on Amazon here.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1, one of three chapters about the neo-MAX development.

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C919 EIS target year end; production rate forecast is aggressive

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By Scott Hamilton

Introduction

Sept. 13, 2021, © Leeham News: The first COMAC C919 is supposed to be delivered to China Eastern Airlines before the end of the year.

If so, it will be the milestone of the program launched in 2008, 13 years ago, becoming one of the longest launch-to-EIS in aviation history. COMAC’s ARJ 21 took one year longer. This regional airliner program was launched in 2002. Entry-into-service was in 2016.

The C919 is China’s direct challenge to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737. Similar in appears to the A320, for which there is an assembly line in Tianjin, the C919 is powered by the CFM LEAP 1C and a domestically-produced engine. But the C919 only has an advertised range of 2,200-3,000nm. The A320 and 737-8 have ranges of 3,500 and 3,550nm, respectively.

COMAC forecasts producing 150 C919s a year by the middle of this decade. Achieving this rate in this period should be a major challenge. Based on normal learning curves, a more realistic ramp up to 150 a year will take until early 2031.

Summary
  • China forecasts a production rate of 150/yr by the middle of the decade.
  • History suggests a much lower rate by then.
  • LNA’s production rate forecast is detailed through 2030.

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Is the Bedek 777-300ERSF freighter a threat to the 777F?

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

September 9, 2021, © Leeham News: In our series on freighters, we now look at the new large conversion freighter from GECAS and IAI Bedek, the 777-300ERSF. How much of a threat will it be to Boeing’s largest freighter, the 777F, when it enters the market next year?

The 777F has the dimensions of the 777-200LR, whereas the 777-300ERSF is a P2F conversion from the larger 777-300ER. What does it mean for cargo payload and volume, and what are the differences in operational economics?

Summary
  • The 777-300ERSF freighter will be the volume leader among large freighters.
  • IAI Bedek has also worked hard to increase the weight capability. How close can it get to the heavy lifting 777F?

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Air Wars: The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 7, 2021, (c) Leeham News: My book, Air Wars: The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, is now available on Amazon.

Three years in the making—delayed by the need to include the Boeing 737 MAX crisis and the impacts of Coronavirus—Air Wars is a combination of a biography of John Leahy and the 1982 book, The Sporty Game. The Sporty Game was considered the definitive book about the competition between Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and the young Airbus.
Leahy worked for Airbus for 33 years, 23 of them as the chief commercial officer for the company. Throughout executive turmoil at Airbus, and at Boeing, Leahy was the one constant salesman. Boeing officials were slow to recognize the threat Airbus and Leahy presented. The wake-up call, according to a top Boeing salesman at the time, was the 1992 order from United Airlines for Airbus A319s and A320s. United considered the airplanes superior to the 737-300/400. The order prompted Boeing to develop the 737 NG. From there, the global combat became a “bare-knuckle brawl,” as journalist Dan Catchpole put it this week.

Executives and salesmen from Airbus and Boeing were interviewed for Air Wars. So were industry leaders. My own archival resources and reporting were used as well.

The result is a book that describes the successes and failures of Airbus, Leahy, and Boeing. It describes how Bombardier came out of nowhere to become a threat initially dismissed by Boeing—but recognized by Airbus. Air Wars describes the sales campaign that launched the A380 and killed the proposed 747-500/600—but led Boeing to the 787.

Air Wars begins with the crucial sales campaign with American Airlines that led to the decision by Boeing to launch the re-engined 737 program—which later was branded as the 737 MAX. The book also dispels the myth that Boeing was hasty in designing the re-engined 737.

Many untold stories are in Air Wars, including sales campaigns, product strategy decisions and personal anecdotes about Leahy—including how McDonnell Douglas tried to recruit Leahy from Airbus in the early 1990s.

A synopsis of the book is below.

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Pontifications: David Joyce fills key void on Boeing’s Board

Sept. 6, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week’s election of David Joyce to the Boeing Board of Directors fills a glaring hole of talent and expertise that’s been missing from the Board for years.

By Scott Hamilton

Joyce, an outside director, brings commercial aviation and engineering experience to a Board that has been dominated by political, defense and financial expertise.

Following the two 737 MAX crashes in October 2018 and March 2019, the Board came under criticism—including from LNA—about the lack of technical, commercial, engineering and pilot representation. The 2018 Board had one commercial airline expert, from the executive suite: Lawrence Kellner, the former CEO of Continental Airlines. David Calhoun worked for GE for 26 years for the transportation, aircraft engines, reinsurance, lighting and other GE units. He left GE in 2006. From that point forward, Calhoun focused on finance industries. Dennis Muilenburg, an engineer, came from Boeing’s defense side.

But, as the table below illustrates, the 13-member Board was top-heavy with other disciplines.

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777X demand grows ever less certain

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By the Leeham News Team

Introduction 

Sep. 6, 2021, © Leeham News: As Boeing slogs through an increasingly deep obstacle path to getting its beleaguered 777X into service, questions are growing around the airplane’s true demand and whether Boeing can ever break even on the program.

The manufacturer classifies 74 orders as questionable under the ASC 606 accounting standard. Boeing now counts only 246 777X orders as firm. It now expects entry into service to occur in late 2023, although key customer Emirates Airline believes this is more likely to be early 2024.

There are officially still eight identified customers for the passenger 777X: ANA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines. But COVID-19 is forcing major network carriers like these to rethink their long-term growth plans. Increasing competition in Europe and Asia over a likely permanently smaller set of business travelers means even fewer of these orders are likely to remain intact.

Boeing’s first 777X departs on its maiden flight in January 2020. Source: CNN.

Boeing CEO David Calhoun recently said a freighter version of the 777X might replace today’s 777F. New ICAO noise and emission standards mean that the 777F and 767-300ERF, can’t be produced after 2027. But it’s unclear whether the 777-8F — a program that hasn’t been launched — will be ready by 2028.

Summary
  • Passenger 777X is troubled by permanent loss in premium traffic, poor financial risk profile.
  • 777X freighter demand is limited by 777F classic market size, P2F conversion feedstock.
  • The air cargo market will revert to historical norms.

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The single-aisle freighters, 737-800BCF versus A320P2F.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

September 2, 2021, © Leeham News: In our series about freighters, we now look at domestic single-aisle freighters based on the Boeing 737-800 and the Airbus A320. The 737-800BCF is the follow-on small Boeing freighter conversion from the 737-400, as more 737-800 passenger feed-stock becomes available.

There is also ample feed-stock of older A320-200 with market values that make these interesting as a P2F freighter.

Which one of the two offers the lowest costs per tonne-km? We use our performance model to find out.

Boeing’s 737-800BCF Source: Boeing.

Summary
  • Both the 737-800 and A320 older aircraft are available at prices that make freighter conversions attractive.
  • Which of these freighters has the best operating economics, and what is the difference in capacity?

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