How Boeing is Rebuilding Engineering Excellence

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

June 9, 2022, © Leeham News: As described in our Monday article, Boeing is preparing for its Next Boeing Airplane (NBA). At the same time, the company is hard at work to ensure this will be no repeat of the 787 and 737 MAX program debacles.

The 2022 Chief Aerospace Safety Officer Report was issued two weeks ago. It gives insight into the work that shall ensure such failures won’t happen again. Here is what the report says about how Boeing is rebuilding its Engineering Excellence.

Summary

  • The 787 and 737 MAX failures came from a company culture where engineering excellence played second fiddle to short-term business objectives.
  • Boeing has now made changes from the board level to how it organizes its engineers. These changes go in the right direction, but will they be enough?

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 16. Thrust generation

April 22, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we examined propulsion system alternatives and their principal advantages and disadvantages. Now we go deeper into these alternatives.

All propulsion systems for aircraft use a propulsion device like a propeller or a fan to generate forward thrust. We use this article to understand how these work and their characteristics before we go into how we create the shaft power to drive them.

Figure 1. The propulsive efficiency as a function of speed for different thrust generating concepts. Source: Aircraft propellers, is there a future? MPDI document.

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Pontifications: The soup du jour

March 14, 2022, © Leeham News: You might call it the soup du jour.

By Scott Hamilton

EcoAviation is all over the place at aviation conferences these days. It was a key topic at last October’s Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Likewise at last month’s annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA). EcoAviation also was an element of the Speed News conference in Los Angeles early this month and at another event the following week. Investor Day events now routinely include ecoAviation discussion.

This is all well and good, but at last, some key members of the industry are putting caution and realism to the pie-in-the-sky stuff that is sucking up investment like the Dot Com era a few decades ago. Only a few ideas and technologies will be successful.

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A Boeing 787-10 HGW, how good is it?

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

February 24, 2022, © Leeham News: The CEO of Boeing Commercial Aircraft (BCA), Stan Deal, said at the Singapore Air show the company worked on increased gross weight versions of both the 787-9 and -10.

Target is to get the 787-10 to the range of the aircraft it shall replace, the 777-200ER and -300ER. It means more than 7,000nm of range against the 6,400nm of today.

How many tonnes of increased Gross weight does this mean, and what would be the performance compared with the Airbus A350-900? We use our airliner performance model to find out.

Summary
  • The 787-10 can grow to a range of over 7,000nm with a modest increase of its gross weight.
  • It will be competitive with the A350-900 but for the longest routes in such a variant.

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For next new airplane, Pratt appears to trail CFM for next new engine

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By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 21, 2022, © Leeham News: As Boeing ponders whether to launch a new airplane program and industry consensus seems to be that this must happen in 2023 or 2024, Pratt & Whitney seems to face a dilemma.

Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan engine. Credit: Pratt & Whitney.

Convinced that the Geared Turbo Fan technology is the path to future engines, nevertheless, public statements indicate that by 2035, the GTF in the conventional form will fall short of the Open Fan being developed jointly by GE Aviation and Safran. GE and Safran are 50-50 partners in CFM International, which will sell the engine.

Rick Deurloo, the chief commercial officer for PW, told LNA last October that by 2031 (at the time, 10 years in the future), the GTF will have a 10% improvement in fuel burn and emissions compared with today’s GTF. PW will have a 1% improvement by 2024.

GE’s Travis Harper, who is the program manager for the Open Fan “RISE” engine under development, told LNA earlier this month that the RISE will reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 20% and be ready for entry into service by 2035.

If the goals outlined by Deurloo and Harper are taken at face value and achieved, this means the GTF will be up to 10% short of CFM’s engine ready for EIS four years later.

This was the question LNA put to other representatives of GE and PW at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference Feb. 10.

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The new Boeing freighter, 777-8F, versus Airbus’ A350F, Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

February 10, 2022, © Leeham News: Boeing introduced the freighter version of the 777X last week, and we made a first article about how it stacks up against Airbus’ new freighter, the A350F. The Boeing freighter will be the market’s largest freighter when it enters the market in 2027, two years after the A350F.

We now use our performance model to fly the new freighters against the present Boeing 777 freighter, the 777F, to look at their operating economics.

Summary
  • Both new freighters handsomely beat the 777F on operating economics.
  • The race is much tighter between the 777-8F and A350F.

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CFM’s Open Fan targets mid-2030s for entry into service

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By Scott Hamilton

CFM RISE Open Fan. Credit: CFM.

Feb. 1, 2020, © Leeham News: GE Aviation appears confident the CFM open rotor engine—a concept that was flight tested back in the 1980s—is an engine whose time has come.

But it won’t be ready when the Next Boeing Airplane (NBA) is likely to be launched. Based on market intelligence, Boeing may launch its new airplane program in 2023 or 2024, for entry into service by the end of the decade. CFM’s open rotor, which it calls open fan, won’t be ready for application to an airliner until later in the 2030 decade.

Open rotors or open fans have the potential to be about 20% more fuel-efficient than today’s Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan or CFM’s LEAP engine. (GE is a 50% partner with Safran Aircraft in CFM.) The reduced fuel consumption results in a corresponding reduction in emissions. GE’s research and development program is called RISE, for Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines.

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Pontifications: Assessing the future of stand-alone GE Aviation

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 22, 2021, © Leeham News: GE Aviation’s (GEA) spin-off takes the corporate burden off its back and opens that way to move forward just as commercial aviation should be over the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Scott Hamilton

The engine unit will no longer be dragged down by, and cash diverted to, GE Corp.’s problems. It can raise money for research and development of new engines and for eco-aviation, without it being siphoned off for corporate or sister company uses.

GEA has challenges ahead, to be sure.

The business model for engine companies has been upended, requiring an entirely new approach to selling engines and services. Historically, engine makers often deeply discount engines—up to 80% or more in some cases—and contract maintenance, repair, and overhaul services to make their profits.

As the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely prompted airlines to retire older aircraft, maintenance, repair, and overhaul revenues and profits shrank, sometimes dramatically. And, with a new emphasis on eco-aviation, new planes have engines with warranties and extended on-wing time that pressure MRO revenues.

Breaking up GE Corp. into three major units will take a few years. When it’s over, chairman Larry Culp remains chairman of GE Aviation. John Slattery remains CEO.

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Engine OEMs pushing ahead for next airplane, even as Boeing pauses

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By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 1, 2021, © Leeham News: David Calhoun may not be anywhere near ready to launch the Next Boeing Airplane (NBA), but the engine makers are actively researching and developing engines to hang of whatever that NBA will be.

Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, repeatedly said the NBA will be more about reducing production costs through advanced design and production methods. For some time, Calhoun said the next engines available on the assumed timeline—to about 2030—will have only 10% better economics than today’s engines.

And 10% isn’t enough for the airlines or the commensurate reduction in emissions.

CFM/GE Aviation/Safran are developing an “open fan” engine that will reduce fuel burn and emissions by 20%. A target date for entry into service is in the 2030 decade. The open fan builds on R&D of open rotors that have been underway since the era of the Boeing 727 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80.

Pratt & Whitney sees an evolution of its Geared Turbofan engine. The GTF was under development for 20 years before an operating engine made it onto the Bombardier C Series (now the Airbus 220), the Airbus A320, and United Aircraft MC-21. The GTF also was selected for the Mitsubishi MRJ90, which launched the GTF program. However, Mitsubishi pulled the plug on the MRJ/SpaceJet program last year. PW remains committed to the GTF for future engines.

Rolls-Royce is developing the Ultra Fan and Advanced engines. GE’s Open Fan and RR’s engines adopt geared turbofan technology pioneered by PW but add new technology.

LNA takes a look at the new engines for the NBA or any other competing airplane in a series of articles.

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Pontifications: Engines drive timing of new Embraer TPNG

The first report appeared Oct. 18, 2021.

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 25, 2021, © Leeham News: Embraer appears marching toward launching a new turboprop aircraft next year with a targeted 2027 entry into service.

The timing will be determined by the engine. Pratt & Whitney, GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce have development programs. PW and GE are farthest along. PW is thought to have the best chance of winning Embraer’s business. (Pratt & Whitney supplies the engines for the E2 jet. GE supplied the engines for the E1.)

In an interview at the IATA AGM Oct. 3-5 in Boston, Arjan Meijer, the president of Embraer Commercial Aviation, said the competition remains open today.

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