Pontifications: Workforce plan for NMA to be announced soon

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 1, 2018, © Leeham Co.: The Choose Washington NMA task force said last week it will release this month recommendations for improving aerospace workforce activities in Washington.

It’s about time.

The task force was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to come up with a plan to persuade Boeing to choose Washington as the assembly site for its prospective New Midmarket Airplane, the NMA.

Two studies, one by the Teal Group and the other by Price Waterhouse Cooper, conclude Washington is the best aerospace cluster and location to build the NMA. The conclusions are unsurprising, given the maturity, size and scope of the cluster in Puget Sound (the greater Seattle area). No other place in the country has this level of aerospace activity.

But the reports failed to adequately address the top priority that Boeing has: the need for skilled workers and engineers.

At long last, the NMA council is getting there.

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How Boeing’s T-X and NMA are connected

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

October 1, 2018, © Leeham News.: Boeing and its partner SAAB Thursday won a $9.2bn U.S. Air Force T-X Pilot Training contract. It was a win for its Defense, Space & Security division, yet it will have major implications for Boeing’s Commercial Airplane (BCA) division and the NMA.

The NMA will change the way Boeing develops, produces and supports airliners. The T-X is the pilot for this change.

Loose concept of the Boeing NMA. Source: The Air Current.

Summary:
  • The focus of Boeing for the NMA is faster and lower cost development, cheaper production and an extended support offering.
  • The Military T-X program pilots the work practices needed to make this possible.

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Assessing 737 production rate interest to 70/mo

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Introduction

Sept. 27, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing hasn’t gone to a production rate of 57/mo for its 737 and studies have long been underway looking at a rate of not only 63/mo but also 70/mo, supply chain sources tell LNC.

Rate 57, up from 52, is scheduled for next July. Sixty-three has long been considered the maximum allowed for the current Renton (WA) factory, the sole location where commercial 737s are assembled.

But Boeing, in yet another step in its drive for more efficiencies, is analyzing how to push 70 airplanes a month through the same facility.

Summary
  • MAX 8 remains the staple of the 737 family.
  • MAX 10 helps family, stems bleeding, but A321 still outsells 737-9/10 by about 2:5:1.
  • 9/10 MAX represent 17% of MAX backlog. A321neo is 34% of neo backlog.
  • Boeing has more sales replacement potential than Airbus.

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Pontifications: Time for Odds and Ends

Sept. 24, 2018, © Leeham News: This week we catch up on Odds and Ends.

Boeing catching up on 737

By Scott Hamilton

Boeing has reversed the number of 737s piling up at Renton Airport and Boeing Field and is starting to burn off the “gliders” and other aircraft plagued by traveled work.

Although some aerospace analysts came away from the investors day this month skeptical that Boeing would clear the backlog by year end, barring another hiccup of size, it looks like the company will do so.

Spirit Aerosystems said it had caught up on the delivery of fuselages while Boeing told aerospace analysts at its investors’ day this month that delays were still causing issues.

How does this conflict of information converge?

It’s a matter of sequencing the fuselages back into the system, I’m told.

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Assessing A320 production rate interest in >70/mo

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Introduction

Sept. 17, 2018, © Leeham News: With the supply chain under major stress and Airbus and Boeing trying to recover from scores of “gliders” sidelined at airports without engines, each company nevertheless continues to study production rate increases for the A320 and 737 families.

Airbus publicly has said it’s looking at rate 70/mo. Boeing publicly acknowledges it’s looking at rate 63/mo.

Supply chain sources tell LNC Airbus is studying an even higher rate, into the “70s,” at early as 2020—a date that most consider out of the question.

Boeing is known to be considering a rate of 70/mo for its most profitable program.

Today, LNC looks at the A320 scenario. A future post will examine the 737.

Summary
  • Airbus is scheduled to deliver more A320 members in 2019 than production capacity. Some of these may be parked backlog airplanes.
  • 2020-2021 sold out at rate 60/mo, 2022-2023 nearly so.
  • Rate increase to 70/mo opens opportunities for Airbus, pressure on Boeing.

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Pontifications: Musical chairs at Airbus

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 17, 2018, © Leeham News: The surprise resignation last week by Eric Schulz as Chief Commercial Officer for Airbus re-opened the door for the man who should have been named in the first place, Christian Scherer.

Scherer spent the last two years as CEO of ATR, which is 50% owned by Airbus, but his lineage is pure Airbus.

His father, Gunter, was one of the original Airbus pioneers. He was a flight engineer on the early A300B2 test flights when Airbus was formed. Gunter died in May.

Christian joined Airbus in 1984. Since then, he was Head of Contracts, Leasing Markets and Deputy Head of Sales as well as Head of Strategy and Future Programmes. At Airbus Defence and Space, he headed Marketing & Sales. He was named CEO of ATR in October 2016.

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The Muddle of the Market aircraft (No, this isn’t a typo)

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Introduction

Aug. 30, 2018, © Leeham News: As time goes by, the Middle of the Market airplane appears to have become the Muddle of the Market.

Boeing can’t seem to close the business case on its Middle of the Market airplane, the New Midmarket Aircraft, or NMA.

And Airbus continues to stir the pot with talk of an A321XLR and the ever-present A321neo Plus.

Summary
  • Boeing’s been talking about the MOM for six years—an extraordinarily long time.
  • The aircraft evolved from a 757 replacement to a 767 replacement—something the 787 was billed to be.
  • The business case remains unclear.
  • The Airplane definition is still a matter of debate.
  • The MOM was defined by Boeing as above the 737-9 and below the 787-8—but now there’s the 737-10 at the small end, for capacity, and renewed interest in the 787-8 at the upper end.
  • Airbus is pushing the A321LR and nearing a decision whether to proceed with the A321XLR.
  • Engine makers remain cool to the NMA.
  • The supply chain is unenthused about the NMA because Boeing wants to capture the aftermarket and hold the intellectual property rights.
  • The supply chain is in melt-down.

Other than this, everything is fine.

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Can an Airbus A321XLR kill NMA’s business case? Part 2

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

August 23, 2018, © Leeham News.: Last week we examined the areas which limit the capabilities of the Airbus A321LR from addressing a larger part of what is called the Middle of the Market or the NMA segment.

We now discuss the changes Airbus can do which would make an A321XLR cover more of an NMA space.

Summary:

  • The A321LR needs more fuel tankage to fly longer.
  • Installing Additional Center Tanks, (ACTs) takes away critical luggage space and increases the aircraft’s empty weight.
  • We explore other ways around the problem and what these bring.

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Some suppliers consider sitting out Boeing’s NMA program

By Dan Catchpole

August 15, 2018, © Leeham News: If Boeing launches its New Midsize Airplane (NMA or 797), it is expected to use the cleansheet program to force new contract terms on suppliers. And that has some suppliers wondering if it is worth participating in the program at all.

Speaking on background, executives from several suppliers told LNC in recent months that they might not bid on NMA work if it means greater price concessions up front, as well as surrendering lucrative aftermarket sales to Boeing.

Bidding will depend, in part, on whether suppliers can pass cost cuts down to their own suppliers,  and if Boeing takes on more risk and development costs to offset lost aftermarket revenue. One exec wondered what it could mean for the company’s engineering capabilities if they have to bid for essentially procurement orders with Boeing holding onto the IP.

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Boeing cash flows generously, KC-46A snarfs up some of it

By Dan Catchpole

 July 25, 2018, © Leeham News: The cash keeps flowing at Boeing. The aerospace giant posted free cash flow of $4.3bn for the second quarter of the year, despite recording $426m in costs related to its delay-ridden KC-46 tanker program.

Despite posting strong earnings, the charge rattled investors, who drove Boeing’s share price down in early trading Wednesday.

Boeing continues to work on closing the business case for its New Midsize Airplane (NMA), a business case unlike any the company has done before, Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said in a conference call with reporters and investment analysts.

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