Holiday publishing schedule

Dec. 23, 2019: Except for 2019’s Top 10 Stories, LNA is going to try and take off publishing from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day.

The Enchanted light maze at T-Mobile Park (Seattle Mariners) Field. Seattle Times photo.

However, if there is breaking news, we’ll report it.

Boeing hiring for key mechanic roles even as production cuts rumored

By BRYAN CORLISS
Dec. 16, 2019, © Leeham News
— Even as Boeing’s board of directors met this weekend to discuss a potential 737 MAX production reduction or freeze, the company has continued to hire workers it will need desperately once it finally gets the go-ahead to resume deliveries of the grounded jet.

So far this month, Boeing hired more than 250 new mechanics at its Puget Sound plants. Insiders also tell LNA managers are talking to their recent retirees–among others- about coming back to work.

This is extremely unusual for Boeing. Historically, hiring at the company all but dries up after Thanksgiving, largely because of a provision in its contract with its union touch-labor workers that makes December a lucrative month to be a Machinist–but an expensive month for Boeing.

Two factors could be driving the hiring: a need to quickly install mandated updates on nearly 800 grounded MAXes once the grounding is lifted, and a long-term global shortage of exactly the kinds of workers who have the necessary skills to do those jobs.

  • No end in sight for MAX grounding;
  • December hiring unusual at Boeing;
  • Boeing may need to lock down certain mechanics now;
  •  Last 777X bonus.

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Airbus faces challenges for A330neo

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Aug. 26, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus faces near-term challenges with its production skyline for the A330, even at a reduce rate of 4/mo, an analysis shows.

Looking forward from next year, when there are slightly more deliveries scheduled than production rates—a function of some leftover 2019 builds—Airbus faces an easily-filled gap in 2021 but huge production gaps beginning in 2022.

Even if Letters of Intent and options were fully converted to firm orders, big production gaps will exist.

A production rate cut seems inevitable in the near future.

Summary
  • Key Emirates order not yet firmed up.
  • Big, 200 unit A330-200R LOI no longer appears in data.
  • Why keep the A330neo in the product line?

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Digital transformation critical to Boeing

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Introduction

 March 11, 2019, © Leeham News: Digital transformation is critical to Boeing’s evolving business model. But suppliers are in no rush to hand over their data to Boeing.

For more than a year, the airplane maker has been moving toward a new system for managing inventory and parts. As LNA noted last year, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ management expects the new system, known as SAP, will streamline parts delivery and cut costs for Boeing and suppliers. BCA has been pushing suppliers for more transparency of their own supply chains and production flows. It likely would not surprise many industry watchers if BCA moves to integrate its suppliers into SAP in some fashion down the road.

Managers and executives at several suppliers told LNA that they expect Boeing to push for greater access to their companies’ internal data in coming years. They expressed ambivalence between potential efficiency gains and loss of autonomy.

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Airbus appears poised to launch A321XLR

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Introduction

Feb. 25, 2019, © Leeham News: The longer Boeing dithers on launching the New Midmarket Airplane, the harder it is to close an already difficult business case.

News last week that Airbus finally, at long last, is appears about to launch its Xtra Long Range A321XLR this year is overdue. Doing so will make Boeing’s NMA business case more difficult to close.

The aircraft should have been launch in late 2017, an insider told LNA recently. But the corruption scandals enveloping Airbus disrupted plans and drove executives to indecision. Launching the A321XLR was put on hold.

Summary
  • Killing the NMA.
  • A321XLR details.
  • Narrow market.
  • Engine down select soon.

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A380 end opens opportunity for A350-2000

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Introduction

Feb. 18, 2019 © Leeham News: Airbus’ decision to end the A380 program clears the path, if chosen, for a plane that was studied three or four years ago: the stretch of the A350-1000 to the size of the 777-9.

Will the termination of the A380 open the way to stretch the A350-1000? Source: Airbus.

A 400+ passenger “A350-2000” would have encroached too closely on the A380’s 500+ passengers. Officials feared the A350-2000 would hurt the sales prospects of the A380.

With the A380’s last delivery now planned for 20xx, this becomes a moot point.

The prospect of a new, Rolls-Royce Ultra Fan engine for the A350 around 2025 will give the -2000 significantly superior economics to the 777-9 and a longer range, a preliminary analysis by LNA shows.

Summary

  • An A350-2000 with RR Ultra Fan engines is superior to the 777-9.
  • However, Boeing has a big head start with orders for 340 777Xs, most of which are for the -9.
  • The market demand for a 400-450 seat airplane is increasingly iffy.
  • But the A350-900/1000neo helps business case.
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Rolls-Royces sees NMA “addressable” market as 4,000-5,000, same as Boeing

Jan. 22, 2019, © Leeham News: Rolls-Royce sees an “addressable” market for the Middle of the Market Aircraft at between 4,000 and 5,000 over 20 years—the same size Boeing sees.

But at the Airfinance Journal annual conference today in Dublin, an executive declined to be specific about the details of this assessment.

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Leeham News and Comment is now Leeham News and Analysis

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 21, 2019, © Leeham News: As Leeham News begins its 11th year, we’ve undertaken some changes consistent with the rebranding of our affiliate, Leeham Co. Leeham Co. celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Our rebranding research last year illuminated an important distinction that led to a name change. Leeham News and Comment is now Leeham News and Analysis (LNA).

The new name more accurately reflects Leeham News’ approach to covering commercial aviation news by drawing on our expertise to tell you what it means.

Because we believe there’s more to real news than publishing a news release, we serve our readers with higher value news by spotting emerging trends, adding historical perspective and delving into the analysis behind the headlines.

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Pontifications: The Airbus North America Tour

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 21, 2019, © Leeham News: Last week’s Airbus North America Tour (#AirbusNATour on Twitter) was a whirlwind 2 ½ days encompassing Montreal Mirabel, Columbus (MS) and Mobile (AL).

To those who don’t follow Airbus Americas closely, the Mississippi stop might be a puzzle. I’ll come back to this to explain why an international group of media, including me, made this trek.

Let’s start with Montreal.

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