United Aircraft’s and COMAC’s eventful year

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 03, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: Both United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and COMAC got their single-aisle airliner projects into flight test during 2017. The MC-21 and C919 had their first flights within less than a month of each other, with the Chinese C919 first at 5th of May, followed by the Irkut MC-21 on the 28th of May.

Superficially the aircraft and projects are similar. Both are 150-220 seat single aisle projects in the mold of Airbus’ A320neo and Boeing’s 737 MAX programs. Looking a bit closer, they are different. One is extending the state of the art in several areas; the other is playing safe.

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Top 10 aviation stories of the year on Leeham News

Dec. 31, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Airplane development and the whimsicle made the Top 10 stories on LNC in 2017.

The Top 10 are a statistical listing of the most-viewed posts, not some judgment call on the part of LNC.

Here is the rundown.

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Top Airbus officials scoffed at Leahy’s 50% market share goal

John Leahy, the chief operating officer-customers for Airbus, will retire in January after 33 years with the company. LNC’s editor, Scott Hamilton, has known Leahy for most of this time. This is the second of a series of reports derived from interviewing Leahy about his pending retirement. The first article appeared Nov. 28.

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 14, 2017, © Leeham Co.: When John Leahy was promoted from his position as head of Airbus sales in North America and moved to headquarters in Toulouse,

John Leahy, COO-Customers Airbus. Reuters photo via Google images.

France, to assume the world-wide position as head of sales, he had an ambitious goal to achieve 50% market share by 2000.

He had a little over five years to go from low-double digits to this lofty goal.

The Airbus executive board initially laughed at him, Leahy recalls 22 years later.

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Analyst: Airbus could eventually terminate CSeries program

Nov. 7, 2017, © Leeham Co.: The Bombardier CSeries may go the way of the McDonnell Douglas MD-95, a Wall Street aerospace analyst suggests: that is, the program is likely to remain unprofitable and be shut down.

Doug Harned, the analyst for Bernstein Research, draws a parallel between Airbus’ acquisition of a majority stake in the CSeries program and Boeing’s 1997 acquisition of McDonnell Douglas in which the MD-95 joined the Boeing family of airplanes.

The 110-seat MD-95 was renamed the Boeing 717. Boeing attempted to market the airplane, without success. Production was terminated after 156 airplanes were built.

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Pontifications: 49 years ago, the first 747 rolled out

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 30, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Today is the 49th anniversary of the roll-out of the Boeing 747-100.

On Nov. 7, United Airlines operates its last 747 flight. Delta Air Lines ends it 747 service this year. Afterward, there won’t be a single US operator of the passenger model.

The 747 remains in service with US cargo carriers Atlas Air, Kalitta Air, UPS and a few others. Globally, British Airways, Lufthansa and Korean Air Lines are among those flying the passenger model.

Ted Reed, one of the writers of TheStreet.com, asked me earlier this month to give some thoughts about the 747. Below is what I gave him; he excerpted some for his column in Forbes. The focus was on US operators.

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Pontifications: Revisionist history

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 25, 2017, © Leeham Co.: The US Department of Commerce today is scheduled to release its decision on whether to impose tariffs on each Bombardier CS100 delivered to Delta Air Lines, starting this year. (The public announcement is tomorrow.)

The tariffs will be in two forms: one for dumping the aircraft at prices below that sold in the home market (Canada) and one for “injury” to Boeing.

LNC understands the total could be in the range of $32m per plane. We don’t know if this a correct figure.

Boeing told its investors conference last week it’s pursuing this complaint about Bombardier subsidies to avoid another Airbus emerging and destroying Boeing and the US aerospace industry—an idea included in Boeing’s filings with the US government.

In those filings, Boeing claimed Airbus led to the demise of Lockheed’s commercial aviation business and of McDonnell Douglas.

I think this is a bit of revisionist history.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Aircraft engine maintenance, Part 6


By Bjorn Fehrm

April 7, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: Last week’s Corner developed the overhaul shop visits per year for wide-body engines. We will now look at how the market develops around these overhaul opportunities.

How does the shop structure develop over a popular engine’s life-cycle? How much choice has an operator and when?

Figure 1. Principal picture of a three-shaft wide-body turbofan with station numbers. Source: GasTurb.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Aircraft engine maintenance, Part 4


By Bjorn Fehrm

March 24, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: After covering the maintenance market for single-aisle engines, time has come for the engines used on wide-body aircraft. The engine maintenance for a wide-body engine is a bit different to the single-aisle engine. The difference is caused by the longer flight times for the wide-bodies. This makes the flight time wear a more dominant maintenance driver than it is for the single-aisle engines.

The changes in overhaul work caused by the difference in flight profiles and the lower number of engines in the market (compared to the single aisles) will affect how the overhaul market is structured and who are the dominant players.

Figure 1. Principal picture of a tri-shaft turbofan for the wide-body market. Source: GasTurb.

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Boeing company uses A321 in website promo

Feb 23, 2017, (c) Leeham Co.: A Boeing company, Inventory Locator Service, yesterday posted an Evolution of Boeing graphic on its website that traces key points in Boeing’s history.

There was a problem, however: the airplane at the top of the graphic, which was photo-shopped with Boeing 737 identification, was an Airbus A321.

A Twitter storm immediately commenced after one person saw the Evolution and posted it on his Facebook page.

It isn’t the first time an Airbus airplane showed up in a Boeing-focused promo piece. The promo piece was still up last night, but may not be when the company opens for business in the Midwest today.

The graphic is posted below the jump in this post.

The A321 wasn’t the only problem. A 747-8 was used to represent the first flight of the 747-100. A 737NG freighter represented the first flight of the 737, which was the -100 series. A 787–which didn’t even exist at the time–was used to represent the 1997 merger with McDonnell Douglas. And a 777F was used to represent the first flight o the 78.

This isn’t the first time an Airbus A320 was used to promote Boeing.

In November 2013, the Washington Aerospace Partnership (“WAP,” as in upside the head, somehow seemed fitting) used an A320 in a full page Seattle Times advert touting the state as the best place in the US to do aerospace business.

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From zero to 10,000 in 50 years; can COMAC duplicate this achievement?

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 19, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Airbus delivered its 10,000 aircraft last week (Figure 1), an A350-900 delivered to Singapore Airlines.

Delivering the 10,000 aircraft after 50 years of start of project is impressive, especially as the competition, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), the late McDonnell Douglas Corp and Lockheed Co, fought Airbus every step of the way.

Figure 1. Airbus 10,000th aircraft for Singapore Airlines. Source: Airbus.

We have a new player starting its 50 years, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, COMAC. It’s on its eighth year and the competitions’ sentiments are: “It will take long before they can compete, decades!”

Let’s compare with the rise of Airbus and see what can be learned. Will COMAC deliver its 10,000th aircraft in 50 years? Or in a shorter time? Read more