Bjorn’s Corner: LED runway lighting causes problems

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

August 19, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: I described in my Corner from 5th of August how a forward looking IR camera could add Enhanced Vision capabilities to a pilot’s tools for safe landings. The camera can pick up the infrared heat radiation from temperature differences in the nature down to a tenth of a degree. It can therefore see things that the naked eye can’t see.

Figure 1 is from a trail that FedEx did before equipping several of its freighters with Enhanced Vision Systems. The Infrared camera (right) can clearly see all heat-emitting objects around the runway, including the fields; the naked eye looking through the cockpit window (left) can’t see anything.

Enhanced Vision

Figure 1. Naked eye (left) versus IR camera (right) when landing on a foggy day. Source: FedEx presentation.

This all works fine as long as the landing and runway lights emit heat, i.e., are standard incandescent types. But these are now replaced more and more with LED lights where there is no heat and therefore no appearance on the Enhanced Vision!

Will Enhanced Vision crumble before it took off? Luckily there is a solution. Read more

Union leaders stall contract vote for Republic

Republic Airways Holdings appeared to resume its downward trajectory toward a potential bankruptcy when the leadership of its pilots union refused to put the company’s last, best and final and final offer for a new pilot contract.

Republic subsidiaries provide regional airline service to American, Delta and United airlines.

Republic says pilot shortages caused it to reduce operations. Pay raised, benefits and working conditions have been at the heart of the protracted contract negotiations between the company and the Teamsters, which represents the pilots.

Republic previously restructured one of its smaller subsidiaries outside bankruptcy, but with pilot shortages and reduced revenue to support debt service, the situation is worse now than it was then.

Republic also has billions of dollars worth of aircraft orders, with nearly $2.7bn due next year. This includes the first of 40 Bombardier CS300s and a number of Embraer E-Jets.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Airbus’ and Boeing’s first quarter

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

30 April 2015, C. Leeham Co: Airbus Group presented their first quarter results today Thursday, a week after Boeing presented theirs. It is a good occasion to look at how these companies performed. We will focus on commercial aircraft for Airbus and compare its performance with Boeing’s commercial aircraft and then comment on other Airbus activities more summarily.

In a later article we will look at Embraer, who also published their results Thursday, and compare with Bombardier’s first quarter which they announce on May 7th. Read more

Airliner retirement age in the wake of low fuel prices

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

Bombardier CS300 analysis vs A319neo, 737-7

By Bjorn Fehrm

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March 29, 2015, c. Leeham Co: Bombardier’s big bet in the aeronautics sector, CSeries, is well into flight testing, now more than half way toward the 2,400 hours required by Transport Canada before certification can be granted. The first aircraft to be certified will be the smaller 110 seat CS100 but the market is most interested in the larger 135 seat CS300, which has 63% of present orders and commitments, Figure 1.


Figure 1. Cseries largest model, CS300. Source: Bombardier.

Bombardier’s new CEO, Alan Bellemare, told reporters last week that the CS100 would be certified during 2015 with entry into service slipping into 2016. The CS300, which is a direct challenger to Airbus’ A319neo and Boeing’s 737-7, should follow six months after CS100. With the CS300 in flight testing and going into service next summer, we decided to have a deeper look at CS300 and its competitors.


  • A319 and 737-7 are shrinks of the market’s preferred models, A320 and 737-8, and as such not the most efficient models.
  • The CS300 is the series center-point and it shows. The modern design beats the Airbus and Boeing designs on most counts.
  • Part of the modern concepts in CSeries is the well-conceived Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan.
  • PW’s 73 in fan version of the PW1000G for CSeries is slightly less efficient that the 81 in version for A319neo but CS300 lower weight makes sure this is more than compensated for.

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Regional operations with the Turboprop, propjet or Jet; Part 2.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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15 Feb 2015: In Part 1 of this article series we started comparing the alternatives available for turboprop short haul services in the 70 seat segment; ATR72-600 and Bombardier Q400. We also included the closest regional jet, CRJ700 from Bombardier, to compare costs and see where a jet would be leehamlogo copyright 2015 small 210_87 pixelsneeded to keep trip times within reason.

In Part 1 we went through the capacity of the aircraft and their basic characteristics. We also did a first check of their typical fuel consumption on a standard mission of 300 nautical miles.

We will now look closer at the economics of the aircraft; we fly them over different sectors with different speed profiles. We will also dissect their Cash Operating Costs (COC) and Direct Operating Cost (DOC). Having done all this we will look at the crossover points; for what market is ATR72 the choice and where does Q400 fit. And finally, what route sectors require a jet?


  • The ATR72-600, Bombardier Q400 and CRJ700 are quite different aircraft. The monikers turboprop, “propjet” and jet fit them well.
  • The positioning of the end of the scale products are clear, the intriguing aircraft is the Q400. When does it makes sense and has Bombardier positioned it correctly?
  • How does one explain its recent meager sales? Wrong aircraft at wrong time? Weak sales force? Wrong markets?

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E-Jet, the project that shaped Embraer

By Bjorn Fehrm


In a recent visit to Embraer in Brazil we got a thorough brief on the background and decision making around the E-Jet and E-Jet E2 programs. We have written about these programs before but we will now cover how they came about, what was the program objective when the decision was taken and how it panned out. Both programs have had and will have a profound influence not only on Embraer but the whole civil aviation segment between 70-150 seats. It is worth looking into how Embraer, once an also-ran in the regional market, rose to the top three spot in civil aviation after Airbus and Boeing and how EMB intends to stay there.


  • American Airlines was part of changing history in regional jets, long before in single aisle.
  • E-jet started as a product program and soon put Embraer on a steep learning curve how to support an E-jet in the market above 50 seat regional jets.
  • Embraer today rates their support second only to Boeing and Airbus.
  • The requirements for the mid-life update of their E-jet, the E2, is all about delivering a mature product. This has shaped all aspects of the program, from cooperation with suppliers to how testing and qualification is done.

KLM E-jet

Figure 1. KLM Cityhopper E-jet taking off. Source: KLM

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Busy Week ahead: First flights; and Odds and Ends:Lufthansa to split order; Embraer tells of upgrades

Update, 2:30PM PDT: Boeing confirms that Tuesday is the target day for 787-9 first flight, time TBD and subject to weather and other factors.

Update, 3:30pm PDT: Bombardier says 9:30 EDT Monday is the scheduled first flight for CSeries. Twitter follow is #CSeries

Original Post:

It looks like it will be a busy week in aviation news. Bombardier plans the first flight of the CSeries tomorrow, weather permitting (it looks good). Exact time hasn’t been announced. Reuters reports Boeing plans the first flight of the 787-9 Tuesday, though we haven’t seen notice from Boeing on this yet. And we’re waiting any day for Lufthansa Airlines to announce its long-awaited wide-body order.

Lufthansa said to split order: Lufthansa Airlines reportedly will split its order for widebody airplanes between Boeing and Airbus, according to this Bloomberg report.

Embraer EJet improvements: Flight Global has this story about the improvements and another about production rates.

Air Force One: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a 42 slide photo display of Air Force Ones, past to present, that’s quite interesting.

Update: “Small Airbus:” If you listen carefully, someone at the end of the video notes that the CSeries “looks like a small Airbus 320.” We couldn’t help but chuckle at this.


Odds and Ends: Airbus will “win” the Air Show; AvWeek’s McNerney interview; 747-8 vs 747-400

Airbus will “win” the air show: We did this preview for CNN International.

Jim McNerney Interview: Aviation Week has this long one.

Dominic Gates of The Seattle Times will be blogging from the Paris Air Show. You can follow him here. He has several reports worth reading.

Meantime, he reports that the Boeing 787-10 may be built in South Carolina, not Boeing’s main plant at Everett.

NYC Aviation has an interesting pilot perspective on flying the Boeing 747-400F and the 747-8F.

Odds and Ends: PNAA Aviation Conference; AA-US merger review; UAVs in USA; SPEEA-Boeing; 2013, Part 2

PNAA Conference: The Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance holds its annual conference Feb. 12-14 in Lynnwood (WA), north of Seattle. This event is now the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and the first or second largest of its kind on the West Coast. The top airframe manufacturers present, along with key aerospace analysts (including the ever-entertaining Richard Aboulafia) and key suppliers. There is a Suppliers Fair and this year for the first time a focus day on the airline industry. Follow PNAA @pnaalliance on Twitter.

American-US Airways merger review: This should be concluded within weeks, says AMR CEO Tom Horton.

UAVs in USA: Rules on the use of UAVs within the US are emerging and vary widely throughout the world.

SPEEA and Boeing: A reminder that SPEEA contract negotiations resume with Boeing next week on January 9. Based on conversations with SPEEA, we don’t expect things to go well. SPEEA told us–and pretty much anyone else–that it believes the gap between it and Boeing is so wide that it expects talks to break off quickly. A strike vote will follow and a target date for a strike is February 1. SPEEA filed another Unfair Labor Practice complaint this week over Boeing taking pictures of SPEEA marchers at the Everett plant.

The year ahead, Part 2: Earlier we posted our look at 2013. Here’s what we did for, in a somewhat broader look.