Pontifications: Boeing 737-9 roll-out–Nothing Special in the Air

By Scott Hamilton

March 6, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing rolls out its 737-9 MAX tomorrow.

Last week, I received a call from one of the network/cable news organizations asking, What’s special about this airplane?

The answer is: Nothing.

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Assessing the SSJ100 future

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Feb. 20, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Sukhoi is Russia’s attempt at reentering the commercial airliner business. The SSJ100 regional jet is, by most accounts, an attractive

SSJ100 in CityJet colors. CityJet is one of two Western operators for the Russian-made airplane. Photo: Superjet International.

and efficient aircraft.

But it’s hampered by erratic production and questionable product support (largely due to the overhang of the Putin politics).

The aircraft was grounded briefly in December when a fatigue issue was found in the tail section during a routine inspection.

  • Nearly 100 SSJ100s are in service.
  • Two key Western customers.
  • Small customers base.
  • Captive Russian customers.

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Assessing the MC-21 future

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Feb. 9, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Russia’s Irkut designed a mainline jet to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families that, from a passenger experience

Irkut MC-21 at roll-out. Photo via Google images.

viewpoint, is the best in class.

The MC-21 has a wider fuselage than the A320 (which is wider than the 737). Seats and the aisle are the widest in the class. The overhead bin space is plentiful.

But the airplane is hampered by its environment: Russia itself.

  • EIS planned for next year, but first flight hasn’t happened yet.
  • Few orders, small customer base.
  • Russia itself presents an overhang to the MC-21 program.
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Pontifications: Boeing’s risk if Trump goes wild

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 6, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing officials must be downing antacids by the bushel about now.

President Donald Trump has the Mexican president pissed off. Trump’s spokesman says the immigration ban (or pause, or suspense, depending on the day it’s described) may be expanded to other “terrorist” nations.

Trump threatens a 45% tariff on Chinese imports and a 25% tariff on Mexican imports.

Why do Boeing officials probably have upset stomachs and flaming heartburn?

Because Boeing has more than 1,200 orders from countries that are in Trump’s crosshairs.

Nearly 770 of them are 737s. More than 300 are 777s. Nearly 170 of them are 787s.

And these are just the identified customers. There’s no telling how many of the 1,101 737s, 16 777s and 76 787s (at Dec. 31) were ordered by Trump’s target and potential target countries.

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Boeing to decide this year 787 production rate of 14/mo

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing CEO

Jan. 25, 2017: Boeing today reported slightly lower revenues for 2016 vs. 2015.

Revenues were down 2% to $94.6bn vs $96.1bn.

Net profit was down 5% year-over-year, reflecting the lower revenues and after charges on the KC-46A tanker and 747-8 programs. Operating profit was $5.8bn vs $7.4bn.

Net profit under GAAP accounting was $4.4bn vs $5.2bn.

Boeing took a pre-tax $312m charge on the KC-46A in the fourth quarter. Charges are now approaching $2bn.

The full press release is here.

Note that officials will make a decision this year whether to increase 787 production to 14/mo by the end of the decade (see Highlights).

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Airbus, Boeing deferrals may indicate slowing global economy

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Boeing 737 flightline at Boeing Field: 737s awaiting delivery. Seattle Times photo via Google images.

Boeing 737 flightline at Boeing Field: 737s awaiting delivery. Seattle Times photo via Google images.

Nov. 17, 2016, © Leeham Co.: The deferral by United Airlines of 65 Boeing 737-700s announced Tuesday caused some observers to conclude this has a negative impact on the manufacturer, but this may well overlook a larger issue.

UAL is the latest “quality” airline to announce deferrals to reschedule capital expenditures or because of not needing the aircraft now.

Softening yields, particularly among US airlines, indicate over-capacity despite load factors of 85% or more, say industry observers.

While the backlogs of Boeing and Airbus remain solid today, do the actions of several major airlines indicate the leading edge of a global economy that’s beginning to soften?


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US, EU ignore Chinese, Russian subsidies

Nov. 15, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Government subsidies to commercial aircraft companies appear to be increasing despite the 12-year disputes before the World Trade Organization between Europe and the US over Airbus and Boeing aid.

Yet the US and Europeans appear to be doing little to try and curb the subsidies to new competitors.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The Engine challenge


By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 21, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In our Corners on East bloc aeronautical industries, we could see that the hardest part to master in a new civilian airliner is the engine.

Both new airliners from Russia and China (Irkut MC-21 and COMAC C919) start their lives with Western engines.

Why is this so? What are the challenges that make engines harder to create than aircraft?


LEAP-1C which will be standard engine on COMAC C919. Source: COMAC.

We will spend several Corners on the main reasons that airliner engines are harder to do than aircraft. Read more

From zero to 10,000 in 50 years; can COMAC duplicate this achievement?

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 19, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Airbus delivered its 10,000 aircraft last week (Figure 1), an A350-900 delivered to Singapore Airlines.

Delivering the 10,000 aircraft after 50 years of start of project is impressive, especially as the competition, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), the late McDonnell Douglas Corp and Lockheed Co, fought Airbus every step of the way.

Figure 1. Airbus 10,000th aircraft for Singapore Airlines. Source: Airbus.

We have a new player starting its 50 years, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, COMAC. It’s on its eighth year and the competitions’ sentiments are: “It will take long before they can compete, decades!”

Let’s compare with the rise of Airbus and see what can be learned. Will COMAC deliver its 10,000th aircraft in 50 years? Or in a shorter time? Read more

Bjorn’s Corner; The Engine Research Institutes


By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 14, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In our Corners on East bloc aeronautical industries, we will now look at the role of the Research Institutes in Russian and Chinese civil aircraft engine development.

The Russian engine industry is organized similarly to the aircraft industry. It has a powerful research organization which has a much larger role than research organizations in the West.

A large part of fundamental design work and testing is done at the research institute and not at the design bureau level, Figure 1.


Figure 1. PD-14 engine altitude testing at the Central Institute of Aviation Motor Development (CIAM) in Moscow. Source: CIAM.

The Chinese organization of the engine industry is similar, the difference being that the research organizations are organized within the giant AVIC (Aviation Industry Corporation of China) grouping, rather than reporting to the state via a research organization path. Read more