Forecast 2022: Airbus

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

January 3, 2022, © Leeham News: When the COVID-19 Pandemic started, it was tough to predict its impact on world air travel and how long the downturn would last.

The aircraft OEMs are at the top of a supplier pyramid of hundreds of companies and millions of parts. The prediction of airliner output at the end of this chain is critical for all, but most for suppliers. The suppliers have strained their liquidity to expand the production at the demand of the OEM.

A downturn in deliveries means less money, which forces sensitive suppliers into a liquidity crisis. Brake moderately, and the suppliers can handle it. Brake hard, and they can’t, or brake a bit and then harder, and it’s as bad.

Airbus managed the reductions well, and with an intact supplier chain, 2022 will be about how hard to step on the throttle as the Pandemic isn’t done yet.

Summary
  • With a competitive product range and an intact supplier base, 2021 is about the correct level of increase in deliveries, with the Pandemic a bigger worry than the main competition.
  • With Airbus’ in perhaps its relative strongest position ever, how much this shifts the market is more a supply issue than anything else.

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Engine OEMs pushing ahead for next airplane, even as Boeing pauses

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By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 1, 2021, © Leeham News: David Calhoun may not be anywhere near ready to launch the Next Boeing Airplane (NBA), but the engine makers are actively researching and developing engines to hang of whatever that NBA will be.

Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, repeatedly said the NBA will be more about reducing production costs through advanced design and production methods. For some time, Calhoun said the next engines available on the assumed timeline—to about 2030—will have only 10% better economics than today’s engines.

And 10% isn’t enough for the airlines or the commensurate reduction in emissions.

CFM/GE Aviation/Safran are developing an “open fan” engine that will reduce fuel burn and emissions by 20%. A target date for entry into service is in the 2030 decade. The open fan builds on R&D of open rotors that have been underway since the era of the Boeing 727 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80.

Pratt & Whitney sees an evolution of its Geared Turbofan engine. The GTF was under development for 20 years before an operating engine made it onto the Bombardier C Series (now the Airbus 220), the Airbus A320, and United Aircraft MC-21. The GTF also was selected for the Mitsubishi MRJ90, which launched the GTF program. However, Mitsubishi pulled the plug on the MRJ/SpaceJet program last year. PW remains committed to the GTF for future engines.

Rolls-Royce is developing the Ultra Fan and Advanced engines. GE’s Open Fan and RR’s engines adopt geared turbofan technology pioneered by PW but add new technology.

LNA takes a look at the new engines for the NBA or any other competing airplane in a series of articles.

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CFM announces the RISE engine program

June 14, 2021, © Leeham News: GE and SAFRAN took to the stage today to announce the extension of their CFM joint venture to 2050 and the CFM technology program RISE.

RISE stands for Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines, and it elevates previous work to new levels and introduces some news.

Figure 1. The RISE Open Rotor engine as presented by CFM. Source: CFM.

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The engine manufacturers worst hit by the pandemic

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

September 28, 2020, © Leeham News: The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is shaking the air travel and airliner manufacturing industries like no crisis before.

More than 9/11, the oil crisis of 1973 or 2005 or the financial crisis of 2008. The problems for the airlines and the airframe OEMs are on the front pages of the world’s media.

The part of the airliner industry that is not so visible but is perhaps hardest hit, is the engine industry. Its weird business model amplifies the effects of the crisis.

Summary

  • Airframe OEMs lose money on the first hundreds of aircraft produced.
  • When they announce “black numbers”, it means the per aircraft losses stop. It doesn’t mean the aircraft program is positive.
  • For engine OEMs, it’s worse. They never reach ‘black numbers” on engine production. Their only money makers are old engine programs that fly a lot.

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A lost decade for aircraft manufacturers, suppliers

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Introduction

By Judson Rollins, Bjorn Fehrm & Scott Hamilton

Sept. 21, 2020, © Leeham News: Commercial aviation is facing a lost decade due to COVID.

Yes, most forecasts target 2024-2025 as returning to 2019 passenger traffic and aircraft production levels.

However, LNA in July published its own analysis indicating full recovery may not occur until 2028. Breathless headlines notwithstanding, it will take years for vaccines to be widely available and considered safe by enough of the world’s population. Growing concern about vaccine production and distribution capacity through 2024 underscores this view. Even Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said earlier this month that business travel might not fully return for a decade.

Indeed, the 2020s may well be a lost decade for aircraft manufacturers and their supply chains.

Summary
  • Debt-laden airlines will have little money to order new airplanes
  • Interest in re-engined 787, A350 likely nil this decade
  • Airbus, Boeing, Embraer have little interest in launching new programs
  • Engine makers too financially stretched to develop new designs
  • Engineering talent, knowledge will be decimated by inevitable job reductions
  • OEMs must “play the long game” at a short-term cost to safeguard their futures

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Sunset of the Quads, Part 4.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

August 27, 2020, © Leeham News: After presenting Boeing’s and Airbus’ first 300 seater long-range widebodies, the 777-200ER and A340-300 in Part 3, we now fly them both on the route Paris to San Fransisco to understand their economics.

The A340-300 was first on the market, but when the 777-200ER arrived amid changed ETOPS rules, the four holer found the twin a difficult competitor. We use our airliner performance model to understand why.

Summary
  • The A340-300 has about the same payload-range performance as the later introduced 777-200ER.
  • Its economics is competitive with the 777-200ER, yet sales dried up when the 777-200ER became available. We explain why.

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Pontifications: New GE Aviation CEO will face big challenges

By Scott Hamilton

June 1, 2020, © Leeham News: The new chief executive officer for GE Aviation (GEA) will face huge challenges when he or she succeeds David Joyce when he retires this year, say industry sources. Joyce was named CEO in 2008.

Like other sectors of commercial aviation, the COVID-19 crisis hit GEA hard.

Initially, the workforce was cut by 10% in March. This was deepened to 25% in May. Non-essential spending was cut. A hiring freeze was implemented and other cost-cutting measures were put in place.

Summary
  • Demand for new airplanes tanked. The Boeing 737 MAX, powered by CFM LEAP engines, has been grounded since March 2019. No return to service is in sight. (GE is a 50% partner in CFM International, which makes the LEAP.)
  • LEAP engines on the 737 and the competing Airbus A320neo family fall way short of on-wing targets. Shop visits, under warranty, add to GE’s cost basis.
  • The Boeing 777-9, powered by the GE9X, is already a year late. A redesign of some critical parts of the engine was required.
  • COVID also decimates the engine aftermarket business, which is core to the OEM business model.

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Supply chain focus: Safran’ s first 2020 quarter

By Bjorn Fehrm

May 5, 2020, ©. Leeham News: Next out in our COVID19 supply chain focus is Safran Group.

Safran, together with GE Aviation, is the largest supplier of turbofan engines to the World’s airliners. Their success in the CFM joint venture is unprecedented. The first joint engine, the CFM56 has passed 30,000 deliveries, and the follow-up, the CFM LEAP, has 16,000 orders.

At the back of this successful business, Safran has expanded to a major aeronautical supplier for propulsion, systems, and cabins.

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Engine OEMs forecast big hit to aftermarket revenue

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By Scott Hamilton

May 5, 2020, © Leeham News: The COVID crisis will damage the aerospace aftermarket in ways that are only beginning to be understood.

As key companies report 1Q earnings, it’s clear that engine aftermarket revenue is going to take a major hit for years to come.

Engine companies like CFM, GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, rely on aftermarket sales as the key component of their business plans.

The research and development money that goes into an engine consumes such huge amounts of cash that the OEMs don’t recoup their costs for 10-20 years. The aftermarket for parts, maintenance, repair and overhaul is where they make their profits in the meantime.

But this is seriously threatened by the virus crisis.

“The aftermarket for key programs took 4+ years to return to 2008 levels out of the Great Financial Crisis, and that was with traffic decline at a fraction of the declines today,” Bernstein Research wrote in a May 4 note to clients.

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“We’re sick and tired of new technologies:” Avolon CEO

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Introduction

By Scott Hamilton

March 16, 2020, © Leeham News: “I can tell you from our perspective, we’re kind of sick and tired of new, new technology. It’s not proven to be the home run.”

This blunt assessment comes from the chief executive officer of the big aircraft lessor, Avolon.

Domhnal Slattery

Domhnal Slattery, the CEO, was giving his critique of whether Boeing should launch a new airplane once the 737 MAX crisis is over.

Boeing was on a path to decide whether to launch the New Midmarket Airplane when the MAX was grounded one year ago this month.

Airbus was waiting for Boeing to move before deciding how to respond.

Summary
  • Airbus and Boeing should “stick to their knitting.”
  • Focus on incremental improvements for now.
  • 2030s to 2050s will be the next big advance in technologies.

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