Dec. 1,2015: The last C-17 flew off the Boeing production line in Long Beach (CA) last week, ending aircraft
production at the former McDonnell Douglas plant that began delivering Douglas DC-8s at the start of the jet age.
It’s the end of an era that lasted six decades.
Prior to producing the DC-8 at Long Beach, Douglas Aircraft Co. built its long line of piston airliners at the Santa Monica (CA) Airport.
The DC-8 was followed by the DC-9, DC-10, the DC-9 Super 80 series, the MD-11, the MD-90 and the final commercial airliner at Long Beach, the MD-95/Boeing 717. The C-17 was the only military aircraft built here.
Here’s a photo array dedicated to this storied history.
Sept. 3, 2015: An air show this weekend at which about 60 aircraft will be on display, many taking part in flying, will begin Friday at Paine Field, Everett (WA), the home to Boeing’s wide-body production plants.
The Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) sponsors the event, which kicks off Friday evening with a dinner and dancing from the Big Band era of World War II.
Aircraft pre-dating the War will be flown at 10am Saturday. WW II era trainers fly at 11am. War Birds fly at 1pm and a Douglas DC-3 in Pan American World Airways colors flies at 5pm. Rides may be purchased on many of the airplanes on Saturday and Sunday.
WW II veteran fliers will be present to answer questions and talk about the vintage warbirds that will be on display. The DC-3 flew with the China National Aviation Corp. over the Hump, supplying troops in China from bases in India.
One of the veterans who will be present is Johnny Oberto, 93, who was a test pilot for the Navy throughout the war.
June 1, 2015, c. Leeham Co. The Paris Air Show begins in two weeks. One thing that won’t happen is the launch of the Airbus A380neo.
We still think it will happen, though at a later date.
Re-engining the A380 is highly controversial. The A380 is the plane critics love to hate. You can argue whether it should have been built in the first place. You can argue whether it was 10 years too soon. You can argue whether Airbus misjudged the size of the market. You can even argue its passenger appeal. I haven’t flown on the A380 yet, so I can’t speak from personal experience on the latter. I’ve previously discussed the other points.
You can argue whether the airplane should be re-engined. Leeham News concluded in January 2014 Airbus really had no choice but to re-engine the A380 if it wants to continue offering the model. If done inexpensively (a relative term, to be sure), it makes sense given the arrival around 2020 of the Boeing 777-9. It’s when design creep happens that trouble arises. Just ask Boeing on the 747-8.
Emirates Airlines says it will buy up to 200 A380neos if Airbus proceeds. Qatar Airways expresses interest. Lufthansa Airlines said a neo is needed to keep the A380 viable in the future, though it hasn’t taken the next step of saying it will buy more.
Re-engining is hardly new. Let’s take a look. Read more
14 May 2015, C. Leeham Co: In my ISTAT Asia reports, I wrote about how China will overtake USA as largest civil aviation market in 2030. Airbus China Group chairman, Laurence Barron, and I had a chat after his ISTAT presentation where he described China’s evolution as a civil aviation market and how Airbus gradually worked itself from a late and hesitant start to today’s split of the market with Boeing.
Barron provided his slides, some of which we will use to review how China grew from virtually no civil aviation after the Chinese revolution in 1949 to the world’s largest market by 2030. We will also look at what aircraft have made up this growth and finally describe how Airbus progressed from a latecomer in 1985 to sharing the market with Boeing today.
By Bjorn Fehrm
March 31, 2015: We have received an update for Avolon’s “Aircraft retirement and storage trends” whitepaper from September 2012. In the age of changing fuel prices it makes for interesting reading as the author, Avolon’s Head of Strategy Dick Forsberg, includes the effects of fuel price changes in his analysis.
The analysis uses data from Ascends database up until 31 Dec 2014 to make its conclusions:
– Retirement age for jets remain stable with 60% of mainline aircraft still active after 25 years.
– Regional jets retire earlier, the 60% active age is 20 years.
– Behind early retirements of certain aircraft is first of type versions which have limitations in airframe or engines.
– Old aircraft and those who are stored more than two years don’t make it back from the desert.
– With continued low fuel prices deferred retirements would increase but still constitute less than 10% of new aircraft production. Read more
Dec. 29, 2014: Now’s your chance to vote on what you think are the world’s dud airliners. Here are the parameters:
You may vote for more than one airplane.
787 donation: The Boeing Co. handed over 787 test airplane #3 (ZA003) to the Museum of Flight Saturday in an elaborate ceremony marking an unprecedented donation of a modern airliner to an aviation museum.
To be sure, the donation was made possible by the fact that ZA003 (and 002 and 001) can’t be sold due to the massive rework necessary, and these three airplanes have been written off for more than $2bn. But this doesn’t make the event any less significant.
Part 2 of two parts.
With multiples and multiples of billions of dollars at stake to develop new airplanes, and the billions of dollars of cost overruns at risk, it’s understandable the Airbus and Boeing are shifting to looking at derivatives and incremental improvements now for the lower-risk and ability to “harvest” technology across family lines.
This is hardly new. Airframers have been doing this since the Douglas DC-1 prototype begot the DC-2, which led to the DC-3. The Douglas DC-4 was the basis for the DC-6 and DC-7, for which there were A, B and C versions. Lockheed revamped the L-049 Constellation through several major upgrades (the -649, 749, 1049 and 1649, with several sub-sub-types in between). Convair created the CV-240 and revised it twice with the CV-340 and 440. The Martin 202 became the 303 (dumped after design issues with the 202) and the 404.
The trend continued into the jet age. Douglas created the DC-8-10/20/30/40/50 on the same basic airframe and really went to town with the DC-8 Super 60 Series. The DC-9-10 became the -20/30/40/50, the Super 80 (in four variants) and the basis for the MD-90 and MD-95. Boeing’s ground-breaking 707-120 became the 138/227/320B/C, the 707-020 (more commonly known as the 720), the C-135/KC-135 and a number of other military variants. The fuselage was the basis of the 727, 737 and 757. And so on. (Text continues below the photo.)
European manufacturers of the early jet age followed the same pattern. There were four commercial versions intended for the deHavilland Comet. The Hawker Siddeley came in multiple versions, as did the British Aircraft Corp. BAC-111.
This past weekend we attended a reunion of two of the living pilots, descendents, friends and interested public of the China National Aviation Corp. at the San Francisco International Airport.
We did a detailed write-up for CNN.com. This story and some photos are here.
There was a lot that didn’t fit into the CNN article, for space and for the thrust of the article. In a departure from our usual aviation coverage, we’re sharing the experience below.