Lessor worries about Airbus, Boeing production rates

Here is an expanded version of a story we did last week for Flight Global Pro.

The refrain that Airbus and Boeing are over-producing the core-A320 and 737 programmes resurfaced with lessor AerCap in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Aengus Kelly, CEO, chastised the Big Two OEMs for production plans announced so far. Airbus will go to a rate of 42 per month by the end of this year and is considering 44. Boeing plans to hit rate 42 by 2014. Both companies are considering rates as high as 60 per month.

Airbus produces airplanes only 11 months of the year while Boeing is on a 12 month production schedule.

In its 2011 20-year forecast, Boeing predicts there is a need for 23,370 single aisle aircraft in the 90-210 seat category. Airbus predicts 19,165 in the 100-210 seat market.

Based on the announced production rates, and assuming no changes through the 2030 forecast period in production—or for adjustments in the forecasts—Airbus and Boeing will produce 18,551 single-aisle airplanes.

If both OEMs go to rate 60 by 2016, their combined production exceeds their own single-aisle forecasts.

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More Odds and Ends: Aircraft list prices, airline break-even

Aircraft List Prices: It took some doing, but we’ve collected the list prices of all the major commercial airplanes. The comparisons are interesting. We’ve tabulated these into seat categories.

List prices, of course, have no relationship to what customers actually pay. Discounts of 25%-30% are common and really good customers–like Southwest Airlines for Boeing–have been known to get discounts of up to 60%.

There are several notables in this list:

  • Compare the pricing of the C919 and the MS-21 to the Airbus and Boeing products;
  • Compare the Q400NG to the ATR-72-600;
  • Compare Airbus to Boeing; and
  • Compare CSeries to 737-600/700 and there isn’t that much difference; the gap is wider compared with Airbus.

Is there any particular point to this? Not really–it’s just one of those facts that intrigue us and a host of aviation geeks.

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Odds and Ends: Bombardier, Kingfisher, Southwest

CSeries: Blogger Airline Reporter has this post after touring the Bombardier CSeries mock-up. We’ve seen it before and came away with the same impressions. What caught our eye was this comment:

All the time , I hear people asking for wider seats, more room, etc. But really, what airline is going to take a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 and go from six seats across to five? (hint: none)

No kidding. Not in this day-and-age where load factors are running at 80% or better and airlines still worry about making money in an uncertain age of oil prices. Some airlines now make their entire profits from fees.

Airline Reporter’s remarks further poke in pin in the balloon of the goofy proposal of a 1x3x1 Airbus interior proffered by a former Airbus employee.

That aside, Airline Reporter does a good job of synopsizing the CSeries design philosophy.

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Malev, Spanair shutdowns add to parked aircraft

Today’s shutdown of Hungary’s Malev Airlines and the recent cessation by Spain’s Spanair adds to the number of parked aircraft and will make it just a little bit more challenging to remarket Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s.

As we noted in a recent post, India’s Kingfisher Airlines is teetering as well.

Malev operated six 737-600s, seven -700s and five -800s. It has operated four Bombardier Q400s and two Embraer 120s.

There is virtually no demand for the -600s and even the -700s have been falling out of favor as fuel prices climb. The EMB-120s have little demand.

Spanair’s failure puts 10 Airbus A320s and five A321s on the market. These are equipped with V2500 engines. As we wrote last month, A320s with V2500s are a bit more challenging to remarket than those equipped with CFM56s.


Odds and Ends: Bombardier, Boeing and Mountain Dew

Bombardier: Jon Ostrower reports that Bombardier will deliver 10 CSeries per month from 2016 in this report. This is a pretty modest rampy up rate, in our view, on the way to a projected maximum of 20 per month. Ostrower also has this piece about the activation of BBD’s CIASTA “iron bird” designed to test systems on the ground, well before the first flight, in a bid to iron out any problems before getting too far into assembly.

Even at the maximum rate, this pales compared with the 42 per month announced by Boeing for the 737 and 44 per month announced by Airbus for the A320. Both companies are considering even higher rates, to as many as 60 per month.

This also is one reason why BBD isn’t striving for some mega-order that some observers and analysts want as indicative a vast market acceptance of the CSeries. BBD simply couldn’t fill such an order without one customer dominating its production line. BBD wants to establish a broad customer base by entry-into-service.

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PNAA conference in Seattle Feb. 6-8

The Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance is hosting two conferences in the Seattle area in February and March.

PNAA’s 11th annual conference is Feb. 6-7-8 at the Lynnwood (WA) Convention Center, north of Seattle and south of Everett. Information may be found here. This 2 1/2 day conference is comprised of a Defense Focus Day on the afternoon of Feb. 6; a day-and-a-half of commercial aviation presentations and a Suppliers’ Fair on the afternoon of the 8th.

Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, CFM, Pratt & Whitney, the Teal Group’s Richard Aboulafia, G2 Global Solutions’ Michel Merluzeau, Alcoa and Electroimpact are among the presenters on the commercial side.

Tayloe Washburn of Project Pegasus and the Washington Aerospace Partnership will discuss the issues surrounding the assembly site of the 737 MAX.

Boeing’s Insitu  EADS North America and Lockheed Martin are among the defense industry presenters.

More than 300 people attended the 2011 conference, which is now the largest in the Pacific Northwest and one of the largest on the West Coast. PNAA serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alberta and British Columbia. It has arranged trade missions from Europe, Asia and Latin America visiting here to meet with Washington State suppliers. PNAA was also asked by the White House and the US Commerce Department to arrange a meeting of key CEOs in Seattle to discuss economic issues affecting aerospace.

The March event PNAA is organizing is a Suppliers Forecasting Symposium. This one day event on March 12 precedes the first USA-based Aerospace & Defense Supplier Summit organized by BCI Aerospace.

The Symposium is the first of its kind: a day-long event focused on forecasting the requirements in the supply chain that services Boeing, other OEMs and the Tier 1 suppliers. Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Defense, Space & Security will be presenters as well as two noted aerospace analysts from Wall Street, David Strauss of UBS and Robert Spingarn of Credit Suisse. They follow Boeing and the supply chain and have their views on forecasting the needs of the suppliers.

These are two important events sponsored by PNAA and the A&DSS summit by BCI Aerospace is equally important to the Washington aerospace supply chain. PNAA members get a discount to the A&DSS event.

Odds and Ends: Starting 2012

Outlook for 2012: We’ve historically provided our outlook for the coming year by taking a look at the major airframe and engine OEMs. This year, our outlook is combined with that of Ernie Arvai and Addison Schonland over at AirInsight, which also looks at the Highs and Lows of 2011.

Boeing: The Seattle Times has a good year-end wrap up/2012 Outlook.

Boeing 787: Boeing did not make its target of delivering 5-7 787s in 2011. It only delivered two. Update, 9:45am: Blogger Airline Reporter says Boeing and ANA signed the paperwork on Dec. 30 for a third 787, arguably making this a third “delivery” but ANA won’t actually take possession until Jan. 4. We had asked Boeing Jan. 1 if any more deliveries had taken place in 2011 and a Boeing spokeswoman said Boeing would not confirm deliveries until the Jan. 5 update.

Bombardier: In part 3 of its look at 2012, AirInsight has a podcast with Bombardier talking about the CSeries.

Cathay Pacific: Aspire Aviation has an in-depth look at Cathay Pacific, including future fleet acquisition prospects. Daniel Tsang believes CX favors the Boeing 747-8I over the Airbus A380 at this point in evaluation, largely on great cargo capacity and a preference for frequency over passenger capacity.

Wichita (KS): December was a bad month for the aviation center in Wichita (KS). First came the news that Boeing may not finish the KC-46A tanker there and that the entire Boeing Wichita center may close. Then Hawker Beechcraft lost a USAF contract to Brazil’s Embraer. In fact, Hawker was excluded from bidding and is suing.

Leeham News: Our readership was up 62% in 2011 over 2010. Thanks to you all.

Our choice for momentous event: IAM-Boeing contract

Note: Highs and Lows for 2011: see AirInsight.

In our previous post, we gave readers a choice of the most momentous event for 2011 for Airbus and Boeing; and who was the most influential person for the year and what would be the predictive momentous event for 2012.

We agree with three of the four readers’ choice but disagree for the momentous vote for Boeing. We think it was the IAM-Boeing contract agreed to nearly a year ahead of the amendable date of September 2012. This agreement extended a new contract for four years and is heralding a new era of cooperation between the union and the company.

Here’s why we think this agreement beats out the 787, the readers’ choice, as Boeing’s most momentous event in 2011.

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Readers’ vote: What’s the most momentous event of 2011?

What do you think was the most momentous event for the following companies in 2011? And what do you predict for 2012?

Boeing aims to help airlines reduce fuel burn in flight

Here is a story we did for FlightGlobal Pro 20 Dec.

A little known programme offered by Boeing since October 2010 called InFlight Optimization Services offers airlines the ability to get up-to-date, en route weather and wind information that is more detailed than that offered by one’s own airline in order to reduce fuel consumption.

The programme is so new that only five airlines have subscribed to the service so far. Only two, Alaska Airlines and KLM, have authorised disclosure. Three are for Winds Updates and two for Direct Routes services.

The services are not limited to airlines operating exclusively Boeing aircraft. Alaska flies only Boeing 737s but KLM operates a mixed fleet of Airbuses and Boeings. While Direct Routes is available to any aircraft equipment with ACARS, the Winds Update currently is offered only to Airbus and Boeing aircraft, said Derek Gefroh, programme manager of InFlight. Emrbaer and Bombardier aircraft could come later.

Part of the emphasis on Airbus and Boeing aircraft revolves around the stage length operated. The longer the length, the more the benefit. Short block times typically have recent wind forecasts while the longer the block time, the older the forecast, particularly on overseas flights.

Airlines also want total fleet solutions, hence Boeing’s offering the service on Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

InFlight is designed to maximise fuel and flight efficiency through continuous real-time air, traffic, weather and aircraft data to find post-departure opportunities to reduce flight time and fuel costs. Boeing monitors the flight and sends real-time updates to the flight deck or the airline’s operations centre.

According to Boeing, citing studies, operations generally use about 10% more fuel than necessary. While KLM said the savings is as little as 0.1% per flight, cumulatively over a fleet and the course of a year, the savings can be significant.

The wind updates are, for now, focused on descent operations rather than en route winds. The wind updates combine with continuous descent and RNP (Required Navigation Procedure) to shave the time off the descents.

Gefroh said that wind data could be as much as 12 hours old when pilots prepare their flight plans. Real-time, en route information permits real-time adjustments as pilots prepare to descend from cruising altitude, typically about 20 minutes from landing.

As for direct routes, airlines for years have worked with Air Traffic Control to bypass waypoints under what is called a “Direct to” system. But Gefroh said that sometimes adverse winds could actually add time to a direct routing.

“For medium size operator, like an Alaska or one a bit larger, direct routes can provide them 40,000 minutes of annual flight time saved,” said Gefroh. This equates to 300 fuel-free flights per year. “The question is, how valuable is a minute?” Boeing estimates this at $25 for regional, $125 for a very large carrier or cargo airline, $50 minute for a carrier like Southwest Airlines and $100 for a US legacy airline.

These efforts are an outgrowth of a five-year research-and-development programme by Boeing to find efficiencies in the Air Traffic Management system. But improving ATM is a federal and international effort. The US plan, NextGen, could be as much as 20 years to fully implement. Airlines need savings now.