Southwest launches 737-8, bypasses 737-7 for now

Here is an article we did yesterday for Flightglobal Pro’s subscription service.

The Southwest Airlines order on 13 December launching the 737 Max programme is a launch of the -8 version. The carrier, which has substitution rights between the -7 and the -8, has chosen to bypass the -7 for now.

Brian Hirshman, SVP Technical Operations, told Flightglobal Pro on 15 December that the carrier is up-gauging its fleet, which it began doing this year with acquisition of the 737-800 for the first time. Southwest, throughout its history since is 1971 birth, has relied on the 737-200/300/500/700, preferring smaller sized aircraft and high frequency as its business model.

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Odds and Ends: Frontier Airlines, first 737 at rate 35, Embraer

Frontier Airlines: At the Paris Air Show, Republic Airways Holdings ordered 80 A319/320neos with CFM LEAP engines, and the order was touted as the death knell by some for the Bombardier CSeries–also ordered by Republic for Frontier (40+40). As we wrote at the time, the Airbus/CFM deal was clearly a financial bail out for Frontier, which leased Airbuses from GECAS and had maintenance agreements with CFM. The leases and maintenance agreements were restructured for the ailing airline, and Airbus agreed to contribute a modest amount of cash to the airline.

We were of the opinion then–and are more convinced now–that Frontier won’t survive t0 take delivery of either the Airbus or Bombardier orders. It’s squeezed between United and Southwest airlines at Denver and between Southwest and Delta at Milwaukee. This article in the Denver Post neatly summarizes the current situation.

Will Frontier’s likely demise kill off the CSeries? Not hardly. We would be willing to bet BBD is double-booking these order positions. Doing so against weak airline orders is common practice among the OEMs.

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Dubai Air Show review

The Dubai Air Show is over, with record orders being announced.

2 x B777F for Qatar

20 x A320neo for ACG

45 x A320neo/30 x A320  for Spirit (MoU)

50 x A320neo for Qatar with PW1100G-JM (+30 options)

5 x A380 for Qatar (+3 options)

ALAFCO announcing GTF for all A320neo

Emirates 50+20 777-300ERS

10 x CS300 for Atlasjet (LoI)

We took a bye on daily coverage because we weren’t there and the on-site reporters could do better than we could from afar. So we decided to do a post-show pontification.


Airbus and Boeing dominated the headline–no surprise there–but while Boeing had a blow-out order with 50+20 777-300ERs from Emirates Airlines, Airbus had another mind-xxxx from the mercurial Akbar “U-Turn” Al-Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways. Al-Baker is now the subject of a mocking Twitter account, @AkbarAlFaker, having a conversation with @MichaelOhReally.

This Bloomberg story gives a nice wrap.

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Embraer decides on re-engine, takes a pass on NSA

Embraer announced that it will take a pass on developing a New Small Airplane in the 130-155 seat class and instead re-engine the E-Jet series, possibly with stretch to 133 seats (smack in the middle of the Bombardier CSeries 100/300 size). Targeted entry-in-service (EIS) is 2018.

Aeroturbopower, which focuses on engine stuff, already has this back-of-the-envelope analysis.

As Aeroturbopower notes, EMB favors a one-stop, trans-continental airplane (2,000-2,200nm) over the full transcontinental range of the CSeries (although BBD offers a lighter-weight CSeries with 2,200nm range as well). About 90% of the US domestic flights are within this range but the E-Jet is 2×2 vs the CS 2×3 seating. Aeroturbopower concludes the E-Jet will have lower seat costs.

Aeroturbopower also compares the E-Jet with the Mitsubishi MRJ.

Boeing claims 737MAX better than each NEO

Here is a very clever photo shop of the Boeing MAX colors.

Here is an expanded version of a story we did for Commercial Aviation Online:

Boeing launched its 737 re-engined airplane Tuesday, calling it the MAX (for “maximum” performance, capability, economics, etc) with the -700/800/900 renamed the -7/8/9 and claimed that each model is better than its corresponding Airbus A320neo competition.

Boeing’s press release and press conference focused on the 737 MAX-8 vs the A320neo, “the heart of the market,” according to Nicole Piasecki, VP of Business Development and Strategic Integration. Boeing claims the 737-8 “will have the lowest operating costs in the single-aisle segment with a 7% advantage over the competition. The airplane’s fuel burn is expected to be 16 percent lower than our competitor’s current offering and 4% lower than their future offering,” the company said.

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Replacing 757s; Bombardier’s Scott and Delta; pricing engines

AirInsight, in a burst of prolific writing, posted three pieces of note today:

Embraer ponders new, 2,000nm airplane



Embraer is pondering a new, 2,000nm airplane in the 130-150 seat class. Here is the Flight Global story.

The interesting thing about this is that Bank of America’s Ronald Epstein characterizes the CSeries as having too much range with 2,950nm, which gives it US trans-continental operations. In fact, Bombardier offers two versions: the 2,950nm range XT and the 2,200nm standard.

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American is the launch customer for 737RE–but not the launch operator

American Airlines is the launch customer for the Boeing 737 re-engine, but it’s not the launch operator.

As American’s 10Q SEC filing revealed the day the order was announced, AA won’t take delivery of the first 737RE until 2018. EIS is planned for 2016 or 2017.

We asked American about this. Sean Collins, director of financial communications for the airline, confirmed American doesn’t want to be the first operator of the aircraft.’

“We don’t like to be the first in line for a new airplane,” he said. “There is a learning curve to be worked out. We like to let that process work its way out. That’s the approach we’ve taken.”

American’s status as the launch customer but not the launch operator is somewhat ironic. Bombardier came under a great deal of criticism for having launch customers but not launch operators for its CSeries (a point rectified at the Paris Air Show, with an unidentified network carrier placing an order to become the launch operator). In fact, Boeing’s Nicole Piasecki, VP of Business Development and Strategic Integration, made the same criticism toward BBD in Boeing’s pre-Paris Air Show press briefing.

While BBD’s critics point to the facts that the CSeries is an entirely new airplane, using new materials, production techniques and suppliers, the 737RE is intended to be a reasonable straight-forward derivative of a well-established airplane. That American is sufficiently wary of being the launch operator is a statement of some kind.

We’ll leave it to analysts and observers to make their own interpretations.

But American’s decision leaves Boeing in the position of being able to offer initial delivery slots to Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Southwest launched 737 derivatives -300, -500 and -700 and has been agitating for two years or more for Boeing to upgrade the 737 or, preferably, proceed with a new airplane. Delta is currently deciding on the 757 replacement, evaluating the 737-900ER and the A321neo. A re-engined -900ER should change the dynamics of this competition a bit.

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For Boeing: when one door closes, another door opens

There’s a saying that when one door closes on an opportunity, another door opens. This is the case with Boeing’s decision to proceed with a 737 re-engine. We first wrote about this in a previous post. Max-Kinglsey Jones of Airline Business picked up the theme in his recent blog.

There’s no question Boeing’s march down the path to re-engining was driven by Airbus, it was embarrassing and it was messy. Having said that, the re-engine frees resources and money to concentrate on getting the 787-9 right, launching the 787-10 and deciding what to do with the 777-300ER to meet the competition of the re-defined A350-1000.

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Odds and Ends, Post-Paris Air Show 2011

Here are our closing views of the PAS:


Boeing did very well at the show. We know the headlines almost universally say Boeing had a bad show (which it didn’t) and was trounced by Airbus (which it was), but people easily overlook comparing Boeing’s performance vs. previous air shows.

Boeing announced more than 140 orders worth some $22bn–about equal to the 2009 Paris Air Show. By anyone’s standards, this ain’t shabby. Boeing often announces low numbers at air shows, claiming it doesn’t hold orders for the shows and Airbus does. We regard this as so much poppycock, because we know customers drive announcements and both Airbus and Boeing hold announcements for air shows at customer requests.

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