By Scott Hamilton
March 21, 2022, © Leeham News: A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800 (Flight number MYU5735) crashed today while enroute to Guangzhou. All 132 people on board were killed.
For those likely to jump the gun, it is important to note that this 737 was a Next Generation model, not the MAX. The accident airplane was delivered new to the airline in 2015.
According to flight tracking radar images, the flight was at cruising altitude when it nosed over into a vertical dive. A photo circulating on Twitter shows the airplane in a vertical position moments before the crash.
No conclusions may be drawn about the cause of the crash based on the sketchy information available. As a matter of routine investigative procedures, the following will be areas of inquiry, in no particular order:
March 21, 2022, © Leeham News: Eyes are focused on Ukraine and the Russian War. In our corner of the world, commercial aviation, the stakeholders follow the fallout from the war: sanctions placed on Russia which affect overflights, supply chains, oil to Europe (fuel), and Russia’s confiscation of about $10bn worth of airliners from Western lessors and lenders.
But there is another drama playing out on the other side of the world, too. This one involves China and one of its commercial aviation companies, AVIC.
AVIC is a major aerospace company in China. It also has a variety of none-aerospace companies. It’s one of these that caught our eye last week.
The Wall Street Journal on March 14 reported that AVIC subsidiaries involved in solar energy filed for bankruptcy to avoid an $85m judgment after allegedly absconding with intellectual property from two US companies. The firm had to settle for 30 cents on the dollar.
It’s another example of China companies simply ignoring international IP laws.
By Scott Hamilton
Jan. 17, 2022, © Leeham News: COMAC, the Chinese aerospace company developing the C919, suffered yet another setback last year.
It hoped to deliver the first aircraft, designed to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800/8, to China Eastern Airlines by year end. Not only didn’t this delivery take place, but the program is also only about 15% through the certification flight testing.
At this rate, certification, and delivery this year is questionable. LNA’s forecast for EIS is in 2023 or 2024.
COMAC’s other airplane, the regional jet ARJ21, landed its first order outside China (other than from lessor GECAS years ago).
By Bjorn Fehrm
October 14, 2021, © Leeham News: Over the last weeks, we’ve seen that the present cargo crunch and high yields will influence what aircraft variants airlines purchase. Models that are too large passenger-wise for years to come will be paid for by a longer belly that can take more cargo.
This trend will remain as long as cargo prices are high. Will the high cargo yields also affect what aircraft to keep stored and which to fly of an existing fleet? We apply the analysis to an airline with a fleet of Boeing 777s.
By Scott Hamilton
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.
July 12, 2021, © Leeham News: With Washington State and the US open for business following nearly 18 months of COVID-pandemic shut-down, there is a lot of optimism in commercial aviation.
In the US, airline passenger traffic headcounts are matching or exceeding pre-pandemic TSA screening numbers. Airlines are placing orders with Airbus, Boeing and even Embraer in slowly increasing frequency.
The supply chain to these three OEMs looks forward to a return to previous production rates.
It’s great to see and even feel this optimism. But the recovery will nevertheless be a slow if steady incline.
Now open to all readers.
July 7, 2021, © Leeham News: China’s government policy of operating commercial aircraft that generally are no more than 12-15 years old means the carriers face a replacement bubble that the home market can’t possibly meet.
According to data reviewed by LNA, there are just 303 COMAC C919s on order. Delivery is supposed to begin this year with one airplane. Currently, the peak year for deliveries is 2027 with 55 aircraft scheduled.
There are about 1,116 Boeing 737 NGs built between 2008-2018 operated and stored by Chinese carriers. China has just 296 737 MAXes on order—a deficit of 820 aircraft needed for replacement of these aging airplanes. (Boeing’s website shows just 104 outstanding orders, but Chinese-owned lessors aren’t included in this tally.)
By Scott Hamilton
There are 263 MAXes in storage that appear to be previously delivered airplanes. This number is artificially inflated by the 95 MAXes that are grounded in China. China’s regulator hasn’t recertified the MAX, a move widely considered political due to the long-running trade war between the US and China initiated by the Trump Administration.
When the MAX was grounded in March 2019, there were 387 in service. The math indicates 147 MAXes were delivered from inventory or new production since the airplane was recertified by the Federal Aviation Administration in November 2020 and other regulators shortly afterward.
There were 400 MAXes in inventory at the end of the first quarter, down from 425 at the end of the year. Boeing resumed production in the single digits. Boeing does not reveal its rate, but it is believed to be about 10-14/mo going to 16/mo in the third quarter.
In contrast, there are 106 A320neos and 38 A321neos in storage as of last Friday.
By Judson Rollins
May 6, 2021, © Leeham News: In a media briefing this week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed a deep contrast between the airline landscapes in the US and China versus the rest of the world.
The two countries together delivered 55% of the world’s domestic passenger traffic in March, with Chinese domestic capacity approaching 100% of pre-pandemic levels. China’s three largest carriers – Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines – are matching their US peers by deploying A350s and 787s on domestic routes, as most international routes to/from China remain closed.
However, first-quarter data continued to paint an ugly picture as unit revenue, or revenue per available seat-kilometer (RASK), was down at every publicly-traded carrier. Some of this was due to reduced load factors in January and February, but a key driver is the ongoing sale of “all you can fly” passes on most Chinese airlines.
By the Leeham News Team
China Southern’s report issued this week indicates 48 MAXes will be delivered next year. Another 44 are shown to be delivered the following year. This compares with five A320 series this year and none next year. Only 15 A320s were delivered in 2020.
Five 787s and one 777s are scheduled for delivery to China Southern this year. Four A350s are scheduled for delivery this year and next.