Mitsubishi and ANA show MRJ commitment

June 18, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) CEO Shunichi Miyanaga and the Vice Chairman of ANA Holidings, Osamu Shinobe, gave the full backing to the MRJ program today, when presenting an ANA liveried test aircraft at the Paris Air Show.

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A view around the Paris Air Show

June 17, 2017, (c) Leeham Co.: It’s surprising that many hall and chalet exhibits are still in a state of construction as LNC walked around the Paris Air Show Saturday, but we’ve noted this before.

Meanwhile, here are a few photos:

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Paris Air Show Preview

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Introduction

May 22, 2017, © Leeham Co. The Paris Air Show begins June 17, and few in the industry expect much in the way of orders this year.

The order cycle is on the downward side of the bell curve. Sustaining the 2,000, 3,000 or nearly 4,000 gross orders announced 2011-2013 simply couldn’t be achieved. The “order bubble” had to break, and it did. Last year, Airbus and Boeing reported some 1,400 orders between them.

Airbus guides that it will tough to achieve a 1:1 book:bill this year. Boeing is running about 1:1 book:bill so far but it also guides conservatively. Still, LNC thinks Boeing might surprise this year–and some of this could be at the Paris Air Show.

Leeham Co.’s new publication, Commercial Aviation Report, provides a Focus Report on the Air Show. This encompasses the expectations for Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer, COMAC, Irkut, Mitsubishi, CFM, GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce into one easy-to-read package.

The pre-airshow press briefings by the OEMs begin next week. We don’t expect any earth-shattering news from these and we wanted to get our views out ahead of these briefings.

Summary
  • Boeing wants to launch the 737-10 MAX at the Paris Air Show. This could spur a group of orders that would give Boeing a rare win in the headlines vs Airbus on the latter’s home ground.
  • Mitsubishi plans to have its MRJ90 at the Air Show. One airplane entered the paint shop for ANA colors–this might be the one making the appearance.
  • Embraer expects to have its KC-390 there. Will the E195-E2 also make an appearance?

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Regional aircraft for US Scope clause operations. Part 2.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

May 11, 2017, © Leeham Co.: In the first article about the US regional aircraft market, we described the special rules that apply for outsourced regional airlines, operating for a mainline carrier. The mainline pilots limit the outsourcing via Scope clauses in their Union agreements to aircraft with 76 seats and 86,000lb Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW).

We identified potential aircraft that fit these restrictions in the first article. Now we examine their load carrying capability.

The MTOW limit sets a hard limit on how large aircraft can be used to house 76 seats. The mainline carriers want the regionals to mimic their domestic cabin classes in their aircraft. There shall be no disruption for a First class or Premium economy passenger whether on a mainline flight or on a feed flight to/from the hub.

The challenge is to accommodate the seating standard in the aircraft that come in question.

Summary:
  • Mainline airlines want to replicate their three class cabins for all sectors of a network.
  • This means the regional aircraft cabins shall offer First class, Premium economy and Economy sections.
  • Only the larger aircraft we study can offer a three class cabin with 76 seats.
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Regional aircraft for US Scope clause operations

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

May 4, 2017, © Leeham Co.: The US regional aircraft market changed shape last year. Most players expected that the negotiations between mainline pilots and the airlines would allow larger and heavier aircraft going forward.

But no, the present limits of 76 passengers and a Max Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 86,000lb remained. Next negotiation round will be 2019 (United Airlines) and 2020 (American and Delta Airlines). By now, most observers expect the present limits to stay beyond 2020.

Figure 1. United Express Embraer E175. Source: United Airlines.

The non-moving limits surprised manufacturers. They expected their new aircraft could fit under new rules, allowing heavier aircraft.

With the changed situation, we go through which aircraft fit the present rules and which does not. And what are the options, should the rules not change come 2020.

Summary:

  • The present scope clause-compliant aircraft are the CRJ700 and CRJ900 from Bombardier and E175-E1 from Embraer.
  • These aircraft will be joined by the new MRJ70 from Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation at the turn of the decade. The MRJ90 will arrive as well, but is too heavy for Scope-restricted airlines.
  • We use our performance model to dive into how these aircraft operate under present and future Scope clause rules.
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Spirit AeroSystems, the world’s largest aerostructures company

A feature report.

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 15, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: Spirit AeroSystems is the world’s largest aerostructures supplier, with main facilities in Wichita (KS). I visited Wichita early March and was given a guided tour of the factories. It was a tour of contrasts.

In production hall two, the Boeing 737 fuselages are riveted together in much the same way as the Boeing B-29 Stratofortress was produced there during World War II. “Rosie the riveter” is replaced with a robot, but the hall still has a busy charm.

Figure 1. Hall two, the main 737 production area. Source: Spirit AeroSystems.

In another hall, the production is silent. The winding of the Boeing Dreamliner’s forward fuselage from rolls of tape is made with a swooshing sound. There are few people around; the machines rule.  Everything is mega large; tape-layers, tools, autoclaves, the lot. Read more

New Airbus-Japan venture aims for new aircraft

March 14, 2017, © Leeham Co.: A new partnership, still in the Memorandum of Cooperation stage, between France and Japan aims to expand a relationship that could lead to joint development of advanced aircraft for Airbus.

The MOC was signed between the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan (METI) and the Directorate General for Civil Aviation of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy (MEDDE) of the French Republic.

“An Airbus-Japan Ad Hoc Civil Aeronautical Industry Working Group will be established, and it will meet on a regular basis to discuss technology fields that could be considered for cooperation between Airbus and Japan such as material, aircraft system and equipment, or manufacturing technologies for the development of future Airbus aircraft,” Airbus said in a March 1 press statement announcing the MOC.

Airbus sales historically trailed Boeing badly in Japan, although the current backlog leans slightly in the European OEM’s favor: 87 to 74.

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Boeing Services expansion wise, necessary move

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Introduction

March 6, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg wants the company to participate in the aftermarket aircraft services business and set a goal of $50bn in revenue in the coming years.

He looks at Boeing’s current business, the former Boeing Commercial Aviation Services (CAS), and sees a single-digit market share in a worldwide trillion-dollar market potential. Muilenburg understandably wants a greater share of this.

But LNC believes there is an additional driver: the intensely competitive commercial airliner business faces even greater competition in the coming years. Prices are under pressure today. China is developing its own aerospace industry, which will eat into sales by Boeing (and Airbus) in the home market. Russia has ambitions to renew its home-market airliner industry.

Boeing’s new Global Services unit is a hedge against the prospect of falling profits at Boeing Commercial Airplanes as these factors converge.

Summary
  • Airbus, Boeing single-aisle prices under pressure.
  • A330/350 keeps 787 pricing down.
  • Boeing’s NMA business case may depend on after-delivery services contracts.

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Assessing the SSJ100 future

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Introduction

Feb. 20, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Sukhoi is Russia’s attempt at reentering the commercial airliner business. The SSJ100 regional jet is, by most accounts, an attractive

SSJ100 in CityJet colors. CityJet is one of two Western operators for the Russian-made airplane. Photo: Superjet International.

and efficient aircraft.

But it’s hampered by erratic production and questionable product support (largely due to the overhang of the Putin politics).

The aircraft was grounded briefly in December when a fatigue issue was found in the tail section during a routine inspection.

Summary
  • Nearly 100 SSJ100s are in service.
  • Two key Western customers.
  • Small customers base.
  • Captive Russian customers.

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Bad weather slows MRJ90 flight testing

Feb. 14, 2017, © Leeham Co.: When Mitsubishi announced that it would conduct nearly all the flight testing for its new MRJ90 in Moses Lake in Eastern Washington State, one of the reasons was its history of good weather.

  • Mitsubishi presents today at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference in Lynnwood (WA).

Hitoshi Isawa, EVP of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. Photo via Google images.

It turns out that this is the worst winter there in 20 years. Snow storms became blizzards, shutting down nearby Interstate 90, sometimes for days. Driving to Moses Lake from Seattle, where part of Mitsubishi’s engineering force is located, became impossible when three mountain passes were closed due to avalanches, rock slides and fallen trees. Temperatures reached an all-time low in Moses Lakes in two decades.

“I never experienced this kind of cold weather in Japan,” said Hitoshi Iwasa, Executive Vice President, Operations Support, in an interview with LNC last week. “Many people in Moses Lakes told me this is the coldest weather in 20 years.”

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