The Coming Aerospace Squeeze: Emerging Competitors

AirInsight has released a report entitled “The Coming Aerospace Squeeze – a review of commercial aircraft programs in Brazil, Canada, China, Japan and Russia.”  This report summarizes current and planned aircraft programs in each of these countries and the potential impact of those programs on the commercial aerospace market.

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Embraer fires warning over CSeries launch aid

Here we go, the first fall-out of the Airbus-Boeing trade Interim Report. Brazil (Embraer) complained to the European Union about launch aid by Canada to Bombardier for the CSeries and asked the EU to force Canada to cancel the package. Predictably, Canada invited Brazil to…do…something.

Here is the story.

Paris Air Show preview

The Paris Air Show begins on June 15 and we’ll be there.

We’re attending the EADS media day on the 13th and will extend our stay through Tuesday (the show runs through Friday). We don’t expect much in the way of orders. The biggest anticipation will be whether Boeing will fly the 787 before or during (not “at”) the show.

Here are things as we understand them going into the show:

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China’s Western aviation recuitment alarming

The news that China’s AVIC is recruiting Western executive talent for its aerospace subsidiaries is alarming.

Long-time readers of this column and our main website know that we’re concerned about Western technology transfer by Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer to China, Japan and Russia as the Big Four pursue outsourcing. We’ve seen each of these countries produce regional airliners and China and Japan announce plans for a 150-seat jet.

None of the regional airliners are likely to be commercial successes, but we think China’s ARJ-21 and Japan’s MRJ are probably proving grounds for the larger jets. Japan’s Heavy Industry that are industrial partners to Boeing’s 787 program openly said they are using 787 wing technology they developed for the MRJ and the planned 150-seat jet.

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Corporate Website updated 9/30

This week we discuss the dangers of technology transfers to China, Russia and Japan by Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer in our bi-weekly update of our corporate website. By outsourcing work to these countries, aviation’s Big Four are creating new competitors.

Update, 11:45 AM PDT:

Reuters has this interview with Northrop Grumman’s CEO about the decision by DOD Secretary Robert Gates to cancel the contract. The NGC CEO calls the move “chilling.”

US skeptical of CSeries launch aid

There are numerous reports today that the US Trade Representative may look at the proposed launch aid for the Bombardier CSeries airplane. This one does a good recap.

The CSeries is proposed to carry 110-149 passengers, which directly encroaches on the Boeing 737-600/700 and Airbus A318/A319 series. The USTR doesn’t care about the potential impact on Airbus, of course, but since the USTR filed a complaint against Airbus and the EU about launch aid to Airbus (the case is still pending), it’s only logical that the USTR and Boeing complain about launch aid to the CSeries.

But does Boeing truly care?

There were strong hints at the Farnborough Air Show by Boeing Commercial President Scott Carson that Boeing just might cede the market of 150-seats or below, though Carson declined to confirm to us that that’s specifically what he meant.

Farnborough on Monday

Will GE/CFM engine launch accelerate 737/A320 single aisle replacement?

Will CSeries launch be met with Boeing response?

Is the air show this week about cancellations or orders?

Boeing and Northrop optimistic about winning tanker recompete.

This and more from Monday at the Farnborough Air Show.

For those looking for insight from Airbus and Boeing during the first day of the Air Show, you’ll have to wait for Airbus. Much to the puzzlement of observers (and Boeing), Airbus canceled its press briefing and rescheduled it to Thursday.

Why, people asked?

Does super salesman John Leahy have something up his sleeve to reveal Thursday that will blow Boeing out of the orders order?

Will Airbus surprise everyone and accelerate the successor to the A320, especially with CFM launching the successor to the CFM56, or with the P&W Geared Turbo Fan about to go onto the A340 test bed?

As it happens, we know–having found out Monday–but we were sworn to secrecy before we were told.

So with this hanging out there, here’s a recap of Monday’s news outside of the usual order announcements.

Will GE/CFM engine launch accelerate 737/A320 single aisle replacement?

The question was logical and posed to Boeing Commercial President Scott Carson during Monday’s Boeing briefing. The new CFM LEAP-X engine has a target certification date of 2016; Boeing previously said it plans to have a successor to the 737 ready to enter service in 2020. Might Boeing move this up to coincide with CFM’s date?

Alas, Carson was ambiguous–he said the CFM timeline was consistent with Boeing’s timeline. Not by our math, but nobody followed up on the inconsistency.

We suspect Airbus will be asked the same question Thursday.

Will CSeries launch be met with Boeing response?

It doesn’t appear Boeing will accelerate the 737 replacement to match the launch of the 110-149 seat CSeries by Bombardier. Carson noted that the CSeries EIS is 2014 and Boeing’s 737 line is sold out to the same period. But he added that Boeing is becoming less enamored with the smaller airplane as fuel costs, increasing air traffic congestion and aviation taxes in Europe all argue for larger airplanes. Boeing’s new 20 year forecast increases airplane size by about 10-15 seats, he said.

So how small is too small? Where will Boeing draw the line?

Carson didn’t say, leaving open speculation that Boeing just might cede the below 150 seat market to Bombardier and its emerging competitors in Japan and elsewhere. In fact, Japan is looking at the 100-150 seat market, too, as reported by Flightblogger. Boeing has close ties to the Japanese aviation industry. Is there a behind-the-scenes connection?

Is the air show this week about cancellations or orders?

Carson began his briefing with the quip, “Is this week about cancellations or about orders?”

The signs are it’s about orders, even if far fewer than at shows in the recent past. Boeing (and Airbus through the media day of its parent, EADS, on Saturday) said that there have been very few cancellations or deferrals and for those that happened, others moved in to take up the positions. Both companies said that lessors will be perhaps principal in acquiring airplanes and “financing” (ie, leasing) them to airlines that can’t afford planes as the credit crunch spreads to aviation. Airbus’s Leahy, at a press conference for the Etihad order, specifically named ILFC, GECAS and Aviation Capital Group, as lessors who will fill this bill with new airplanes.

Boeing and Northrop optimistic about winning tanker recompete.

Boeing, Northrop, EADS and Airbus are all optimistic they will win the USAF tanker recompete. Isn’t this lovely? And not unexpected?

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Flightblogger and Flight Global provide running coverage, as do other specialist media. (We only get to it at the end of the day.) The links on the right will connect you.

Tuesday’s big event will be the 787 Program Update with program chief Pat Shanahan. There’s also an environmental briefing from Boeing’s enviro officer, Billy Glover.

Plus more order announcements; we won’t cover these as a matter of routine–plenty of others will do that.

Embraer ponders new turbo-prop

In a sign of just how bad things are getting with fuel prices, Embraer is evaluating whether to launch a new 50-seat turbo-prop by 2015. This would challenge the derivatives offered by Bombardier on the Q400 and ATR’s new revamped series.

The AirInsight team of Addison Schonland and Scott Hamilton talk with Flight International’s Mary Kirby in this 13 minute podcast. (Subscription required.) We also discuss the P&W GTF and UDF potential.