Pontifications: Critical step in Boeing MAX recertification target: May

By Scott Hamilton

March 30, 2020, © Leeham News: Barring further issues, the FAA Type Inspection Authorization for the MAX is targeted for the second half of May, LNA learned.

This is a critical step in recertifying the airplane.

Also barring more unexpected events in a year filled with them, Boeing should resume production of the 737 MAX in May, LNA confirmed.

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Pontifications: Getting around as airline service tanks

By Scott Hamilton

March 23, 2020, © Leeham News: There were times last week when the number of private airplanes in the air seemed to outnumber the airliners.

Periodic checks on FlightRadar24 of the skies around Seattle showed a dearth of commercial flights. By Friday, the US carriers already sharply pulled down operations. International flights were largely canceled.

Most cutbacks are likely.

With passenger traffic all but dried up—some flights had load factors of 20%-30% and others only one or two passengers—how might people get around while minimizing exposure to the coronavirus?

The private, general aviation airplanes are one choice.

Using corporate jets is another. But this option isn’t inexpensive, even when consolidating passengers.

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Pontifications: What kind of aid could US airlines get?

By Scott Hamilton

March 16, 2020, © Leeham News: Airlines in Europe already asked governments for financial aid as coronavirus forces massive schedule cutbacks and in some cases, complete service suspension.

In the US, talk of aid began in earnest last week.

Delta Air Lines, which is parking 300 airplanes and cutting 40% of its capacity, said it plans to seek US financial assistance.

There is increasing talk that the US may order a complete suspension of domestic air service. If so, this would be like 9/11, when for the first time in history the US shut down its skies.

Trans-Atlantic flights were diverted to Gander as 9/11 unfolded. Source: i.pinimg.com

That lasted only three days.

With federal officials saying the crisis hasn’t peaked in the US and it may be a couple of months before the crisis subsides.

US carriers will almost certainly seek government assistance.

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Pontifications: The nuts and bolts of air disasters

March 9, 2020, © Leeham News: Commercial aviation accidents are high profile news events.

By Scott Hamilton

These happen rarely. Many times, a lot of people are killed. (It should be noted that often survivors may outnumber those killed as safety improved.)

In this era of 24/7 cable news and minute-by minute social media, everyone wants instant answers as to causes.

Finding answers is not simple. A typical accident investigation usually takes 12-18 months before the investigators issue a final report with a probable cause.

One reason for this is that sometimes, the cause of an accident comes down to a single bolt, or even a single cotter pin.

This is where the new book, Flight Failure, Investigating the Nuts and Bolts of Air Disasters and Aviation Safety, serves to remind us of just how intricate accident investigation is.

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Pontifications: EU appears to be holding Boeing-Embraer JV hostage

Feb. 24, 2020, © Leeham News: I bet you’d never get an official of the European Union to go on the record.

By Scott Hamilton

But there sure seems to be plenty of anecdotal evidence that the approval of the proposed Boeing-Embraer joint venture is being held hostage.

The EU is plenty vocal about being pissed at the Trump Administration’s trade war against Europe. It’s also unhappy with Trump’s tariffs on Airbus jets imported into the US.

Trump initially levied a 10% tax on the planes, last October. Next month, this goes up to 15%.

As of last week, the US collected more than $277m in tariffs related to the Airbus complaint. The Trump Administration has WTO authority to levy 100% taxes, up to $7.5bn. Industries and countries that have nothing to do with aerospace are penalized in addition to Airbus.

It’s unclear from public information how much of the money collected so far is from Airbus imports.

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Pontifications: In chaos there is opportunity for Boeing during MAX grounding

Feb. 17, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing executives said that while the 737 MAX production is suspended, efficiencies are being implemented on the assembly lines.

By Scott Hamilton

At a Cowen & Co. conference last week, EVP and CFO Greg Smith outlined some of the efficiencies that are being put in place.

But another area that could be improved, not addressed by Smith, while the lines are shut down is supply chain tracking. This has huge ramifications for cost savings and streamlining. It’s part of the business plan for the next new airplane, whatever this is.

This process is called ERP, or Enterprise Resource Planning. Boeing is transitioning to a more advanced method, called SAP, or Systems Applications Projects.

Boeing Australia and Boeing Global Services have made the transition. But Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ transition is stalled due to middle management inertia, said several people who attended the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance annual conference Feb. 4-6.

Boeing should use the production halt and slow ramp up to implement SAP, they said.

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Pontifications: A few rays of sunshine emerge in MAX crisis

Feb. 10, 2020, © Leeham News: The was plenty of angst among suppliers last week at the annual Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference.

By Scott Hamilton

Worries about the production shutdown, its duration and lack of communication from Boeing prevailed.

But there were in fact rays of sunshine beginning to break through the dark clouds of the last year.

Some suppliers—not many—reported that they’ve been told to begin shipping parts and components as early as March 1.

This gives hope that production will resume in April.

To be sure, the good news is mixed with a lot of bad news for suppliers. Some laid off workers and more layoffs are yet to come.

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Pontifications: 777X certification, MAX market deficiencies, NMA and what’s an insider

  • Certification of 777X will be impacted by MAX crisis.
  • Market sees “deficiencies” in Boeing’s narrow-body product line.
  • Reopening new airplane study doesn’t mean NMA is necessarily dead.
  • The SEC considers Calhoun to be an insider, even if he doesn’t.

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 3, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing has said very little about how the MAX certification review will affect the 777X.

The Federal Aviation Administration has said nothing at all.

But David Calhoun, the new CEO of The Boeing Co., gave a hint in a recent call shortly after assuming office Jan. 13.

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Pontifications: Boeing Board needs major shake-up

Jan. 13, 2020, © Leeham News: Today is David Calhoun’s first day as the president and CEO of The Boeing Co.

To say that he’s got his work cut out for him is an understatement.

By Scott Hamilton

I’ve put together a list below, which probably is only half of the important tasks at hand. Most of this list is obvious and doesn’t need any additional reporting because of all the coverage in 2019.

This column is focused on another task that should be, and in the view of many, must be done.

Boeing’s Board is preoccupied with the MAX crisis, but on the theory it can do more than one thing at a time, it need to also turn its attention to some introspection.

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Pontifications: Airbus almost certain to be hurt by MAX crisis

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 6, 2020, © Leeham News: This may be the year that Airbus is hit with the negative consequences of the Boeing 737 MAX crisis.

Most observers see Airbus benefitting with greater A320 family sales while the MAX remains grounded.

In LNA’s 2020 Outlook last week, we pointed out that the long-running trade war between the US and European Union could be coming to a head this year. Airbus and the EU are waiting for the World Trade Organization’s authorization to impose tariffs on US products. This decision is expected in May or June. Boeing is expected to be the first target. The Trump Administration last year imposed a 10% tariff on Airbus aircraft.

The MAX crisis could ratchet up tariffs on Airbus aircraft.

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