Bjorn’s Corner: China’s civil aviation, from nothing to world’s largest in 2030


By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

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.

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Pontifications: the A380, Airbus and Boeing

Hamilton (5)

By Scott Hamilton

May 4, 2015, c. Leeham Co. Of all the things we write about, nothing stirs responses and readership than news–of any kind–about the Airbus A380.

Last week I wrote about Malaysia Airlines putting a large number of its Airbus and Boeing wide-bodies for sale or lease. MASCargo’s entire fleet of Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A330Fs is on the chopping block. Some Boeing 777-200ERs are, too. The six A380s (all of those in the MAS fleet) are also being offered for sale or lease.

Holy crap. This news headlined not only international press but sent the social media into a frenzy. Within 12 hours it had become our second most read story of 2015. In less than 36 hours, it became our top story of the year so far.

I also wrote last week about the 10 year anniversary of the A380. It was a mixed review: the plane is a technological success, if by now a bit dated, but sales continue to be poor. I talked about the prospect of an A380neo and how Boeing is rooting for Airbus to proceed, sucking up money and resources in the process. I wrote about the urban legend that Boeing tricked Airbus into launching the A380 program as a way to divert money and resources.

And then I suggested that Boeing’s own failed strategy, ineptitude and arrogance prevented the company from taking advantage of Airbus’ focus on the A380.

787 CNN 2 had this on its home page Saturday. Even though there are more than 250 Boeing 787s in service, the strategic industrial and early design blunders continue to dog the airplane.

You’d have thunk I dropped a skunk at a lawn party.

One reader suggested I was part of the Airbus PR department or Airbus’ John Leahy ghosted the article. Never mind that the day before I wrote a strong defense of the Boeing 787 and suggestions that “everyone” was deferring the 787; and gave an equally strong defense of the 787 in Perhaps Boeing’s Randy Tinseth ghosted my article and impersonated me to The Street.

I didn’t go into detail in my article about Boeing’s “failed strategy, ineptitude and arrogance” because I thought after all these years, these were pretty obvious. Apparently not. So I’ll hit some highlights. Read more

Pontifications: Remote control of airliners a bad idea

Hamilton (5)

By Scott Hamilton

March 30, 2015: In the aftermath of what a French prosecutor said was the apparent suicide-mass murder of 150 people on Germanwings 9525, there have been some calls for and questions of creating a system of allowing ground controllers to assume command of airborne airliners in the event rogue pilot situation develops.

This is a bad idea. Read more

Boeing’s dedicated freighters views an improving market

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By Scott Hamilton and Bjorn Fehrm


Feb. 22, 2015: An improving global freight market gives Boeing hope that air cargo demand will support the production of two new main-deck freighters a month for years to come. Boeing is struggling to sell 747-8Fs to keep the 747 line alive and needs to sell the 777F to support its goal of maintaining the current 777 production rate of 100/yr through the transition in 2020 to the new 777X.

Randy Tinseth, VP Marketing for Boeing included the projection as a passing reference in remarks Feb. 11 to the 14th Annual Conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance in Lynnwood (WA). The following week we spoke at length with Tom Crabtree, Boeing’s Regional Director, Airline Market Analysis, Marketing & Business Development, about the long-suffering global cargo market and Boeing’s forecast for recovery.


  • Increasing reliance on belly capacity doesn’t negate need for large main deck freighters, Boeing says.
  • Boeing sees need for two new-build, large freighters per month.
  • Accepting Boeing’s demand forecast, Leeham Co. sees another production rate cut for the 747-8.

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AirAsia update, Dec. 30: Key questions in the investigation

Dec. 30, 2014: With the apparent discovery of the main wreckage of AirAsia Flt 8501 in about 100 ft of water, recovery of the airplane and its black boxes should be a relatively straight-forward operation.

Our previous posts have outlined general areas of inquiry. With this post, we drill down into some of the flight and airplane questions that will be part of the inquiry. We talked with an Airbus A320 captain for a major US airline in forming these issues. This captain has been flying for US carriers for 30 years and is rated on Boeing 737s, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and the A320.

Key points:

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World’s dud airliners: a poll of your choices

Dec. 29, 2014: Now’s your chance to vote on what you think are the world’s dud airliners. Here are the parameters:

  1. Post World War II.
  2. A commercial airliner that entered service–not a prototype or a concept or a mock-up.
  3. “Dud” is defined as poor sales (typically fewer than 100, but it could be more) or something with a technological fault, or both.
  4. The final lists below are gleaned from our original post and choices, and some of the suggestions by readers. Not all suggestions have been incorporated and we’ve added a couple more.
  5. In our Honorable Mentions, we’ve included derivatives of successful airplanes that turned out to be sales duds.

You may vote for more than one airplane.

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New and Derivative Airplanes: Some good, some not: Part 2

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.)

Later this month, we will unveil a new, updated Leeham News and Comment with a combination of paid and free content. Watch this space for more information.

Later this month, we will unveil a new, updated Leeham News and Comment with a combination of paid and free content. Watch this space for more information.

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.

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Overlooked possibilities for the A330neo

There are overlooked possibilities for the Airbus A330-800 and A330-900 New Engine Options.

What, you may ask, are these?

The A330neo might give new life to the poor-selling A330-200F program and, perhaps more importantly better position Airbus to compete for the next round of the USAF Air Force Tanker competition, the KC-Y program.

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OEMs are ramping up services as profit centers

Original Equipment Manufacturers are ramping up their focus on services to increase these as profit centers for company financial performance.

The news April 10 that Boeing will relocate its Commercial Aviation Services unit from Seattle to its fading facility in Long Beach (CA) is another example. After-market support services for all DC- and MD- models and the out-of-production 7 Series airplanes previously were relocated to Southern California. Now, support for the in-production 7 Series (except the 787), the 737-based P-8A Poseidon and the forthcoming KC-46A will shift to SoCal. The 787, 737 MAX and forthcoming 777X support will be in Seattle.

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MH370, Day 12: 10 theories, courtesy of BBC

To no surprise, we’re still wondering where Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 is.

The BBC has an excellent review of 10 theories about the flight’s mysterious disappearance, which beat us to it; we had planned to take this approach now that we’re done with the ISTAT conference.

One theory that recently surfaced is the fire-in-the-cargo-hold, destroying all communications. We point out once more that there are five radios on the plane plus two transponders. The last cargo hold fire we can remember was the ValuJet DC-9 accident on May 11, 1996. But these pilots had time to radio before being overcome by smoke. Despite plunging nose first into the Miami Everglades, there was still some debris–small though it was. We discount this theory.

The more telling bizarre twist is the revelation that Thailand military had detected an unidentified blip but waited 10 days to present the information–because it hadn’t been asked.

One would have thought that someone might have taken the initiative to volunteer this information before being asked.

The Thai and Malaysian militaries need to hold joint maneuvers in incompetence.