By the Leeham News Team
Dec. 13, 2021, © Leeham News: Attempting a forecast for the new year historically has been reasonably easy. One just started with the stability of the current years, and maybe the previous one or two years, and looked forward to next year.
Until the Boeing 737 MAX grounding, COVID-19 pandemic, and the Boeing 787 suspension of deliveries.
These events upended everything. Boeing’s outlook for 2020 depended on what happened to return the MAX to service. The grounding, initially expected by many to be measured in months, ultimately was measured in years.
The 2020 outlook for the rest of the aircraft manufacturers blew up that March with the global pandemic.
Then, in October 2020, Boeing suspended deliveries of the 787, exacerbating its cash flow crunch.
Commercial aviation began to recover some in late 2020. Airbus, which reduced but didn’t suspend deliveries throughout 2020, saw signs of hope for the narrowbody market—less so for widebody airplanes.
There is a lot of uncertainty, however, that makes looking even one year ahead challenging.
Aug. 30, 2021, ©Leeham News: The agreement last week between IAI and Etihad Airways to open a Boeing 777-300ER P2F conversion line in Abu Dhabi gives a major boost to the burgeoning program.
In addition to the history-making tie-up between an Israeli company and the United Arad Emirates, and a commitment by Etihad to convert 777s to freighters with IAI, the move is a major coup for IAI to win other Arab airline business.
IAI and the former GECAS, which was acquired by AerCap, launched the first 777 P2F program in 2019. GECAS ordered 15 conversions of the -300ER and optioned 15 more.
March 29, 2021, © Leeham News: Aviation stakeholders’ attention understandably focuses on Airbus and Boeing as the industry works its way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Embraer gets less attention than the Big Two.
But two other OEMs must be considered as well: ATR and De Havilland Canada.
Outside of China and Russia, whose home-grown industries sell only to these markets, ATR and DHC are the only manufacturers of turboprops in the 50-90 seat sectors.
LNA revealed on Jan. 12 that DHC would suspend Dash 8-400 production after the small backlog rolled off the assembly line. The privately held company delivered 11 airplanes last year due to the pandemic.
About 900 aging regional turboprop aircraft need to be replaced in the coming years.
By Scott Hamilton
According to data reviewed by LNA, there are 17 Dash 8s scheduled for delivery to customers this year. There are two more that don’t have identified customers. It is unclear if these will be built.
DHC notified suppliers to stop sending parts and components to avoid building whitetails.
De Havilland assembled the Dash 8s at the Toronto plant previously owned by Bombardier. The lease on the facility expires in 2023. There is no decision whether to move the final assembly line to Western Canada, where DHC is headquartered.
By Judson Rollins & Bjorn Fehrm
Jan. 11, 2021, © Leeham News: COVID-19 may ultimately prove to be a net positive for turboprop manufacturers. Near-term orders will be pinched just as for jets, but a long-term loss of business travel and the resulting impact to airline yields will make turboprops’ superior unit costs appealing for shorter missions.
Turboprop engines create their thrust with a very high bypass ratio. The result is 30% better fuel economy than a jet. But it also means 30% lower speed. This limits turboprops to stage lengths to about half that of jets.
The market-dominating ATR and De Havilland Canada (DHC) turboprops use this base efficiency to compete against newer regional jets despite having designs which are 20 years older.
Jan. 4, 2021, © Leeham News: Beginning today through next week, Leeham News presents its annual Outlook series for the coming year.
We’ve been doing this for years. In recent years, the Outlook reflected continued growth in commercial aviation. The industry had the longest upward tick in the more than three decades I’ve been involved in the sector.
Not this year. As I wrote before the Christmas-New Year’s holiday period, 2020 was the worst year for commercial aviation I’ve ever seen in 41 years.
This year is the beginning of the end of the COVID crisis. Yes, the vaccines began distribution in December, but large spikes in COVID cases began simultaneously and are predicted to climb higher through the first quarter.
Over the coming days, as LNA provides its Outlook for 2021, readers will see what we believe will happen.
Dec. 7, 2020, (c) Leeham News: Embraer studies whether to develop a new generation turboprop to compete with and replace the ATR-72 and De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400. Both of these airplanes were designed in the 1980-90s, although each went through updates and modernization.
Developing a new turboprop has lots of challenges. Not the least is the size of the market.
LNA’s Scott Hamilton and Bjorn Fehrm discuss the Embraer “E3” concept in the next installment of the “10 Minutes About” series of podcasts.
Seventh and final in a series.
By Judson Rollins
Jet manufacturers typically introduce a new airplane every 15 years or so.
Commercial turboprops have not innovated to nearly the same extent as jets, with rival manufacturers ATR and De Havilland Canada (and predecessor Bombardier) having produced nearly 95% of the world’s in-service fleet. Although order volume has slowed in recent years, more than 300 aircraft are still on order.
Both manufacturers sell aircraft based on 30+ year old designs. However, the market’s size is probably capped because of turboprops’ relatively low cruise altitude and speed, making them limited alternatives to regional jets beyond roughly 500nm. This limits the return on investment from a clean-sheet design, either from aerodynamic improvements or the use of carbon composites.
Emerging threats lie on the horizon as China’s Xian MA700 nears its first flight and Embraer deliberates re-entering the market with a new design. Given sufficient market acceptance, either would constitute a significant threat not only to ATR and DHC, but potentially also the smaller end of the regional jet market.
By Judson Rollins
Earlier this week, LNA examined the potential for a shakeout among European carriers as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to the continent.
Five European countries now rank among the ten hardest hit – travel demand is plummeting nearly as rapidly as after the September 11 attacks in the US.
On Thursday, UK-based Flybe went into bankruptcy after long-time financial struggles. The airline had 54 De Havilland Canada Dash-8-400s and nine Embraer E175-E1s in its fleet, more than half of which were leased from Nordic Aviation Capital and HEH Aviation Management.
LNA reviewed aircraft ownership data to understand top manufacturer and lessor exposure to European carriers, particularly those with known profitability issues and high debt loads.
In last week’s analysis, LNA examined which airlines in greater China and the rest of Asia may be in imminent risk of financial distress due to the growing coronavirus outbreak. We found that airlines from Malaysia to Japan have significant exposure to the Chinese market. Several have shaky balance sheets and were already losing money prior to the outbreak, most notably AirAsia, AirAsiaX, Thai Airways, Nok Air, Malaysia Airlines, and Asiana.
The coronavirus outbreak has now spread to Europe and the Middle East, but we are continuing our focus on Asia as it’s been most greatly affected so far. Additional analysis focusing on Europe will follow, with particular attention to the potential for further airline consolidation on the continent.
LNA reviewed ownership and operating data on aircraft to understand top manufacturer and lessor exposure to greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Macau, and the rest of East Asia.