Pontifications: Biden’s new “Buy American” policy may hit Lockheed Martin-Airbus plans to compete in KC-Y tanker bid

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 2, 2021, © Leeham News: A move by the Biden Administration may have unintended consequences in the KC-Y Bridge Tanker procurement by the US Air Force.

The Bridge Tanker is the Air Force’s second round to replace the aging Boeing KC-135 fleet. Between 140-160 airplanes will be purchased under KC-Y. The Air Force awarded a contract to Boeing in the previous KC-X procurement for 179 tankers based on the 767-200ER platform.

President Joe Biden announced last week that the US will adopt a rule under its Buy American policy that American content must be increased from 55% to 60% immediately and ultimately 75%.

If adopted, the rule appears to all but preclude an expected proposal by a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Airbus (LMA) to offer the KC-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). This is based on the A330-200 platform.

Lockheed Martin did not respond to a request for comment.

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Pontifications: Earnings previews for Boeing, Airbus

By Scott Hamilton

July 26, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing and Airbus report second-quarter/first-half earnings on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Boeing continues to have a rocky year. Although 737 MAX deliveries and production are picking up, 787 deliveries remain suspended. There are now more than 100 787s in inventory, with deliveries largely suspended since October. Production anomalies required rework and inspections combine to suspend deliveries.

The Federal Aviation Administration wants more detail about Boeing’s inspection and rework program. Even though the FAA restored on June 19 to Boeing what’s called “ticketing” authority to certify individual aircraft, the airplanes remain undelivered. The FAA continues to retain ticketing responsibility for the MAX deliveries.

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Pontifications: Two re-fleeting campaign give Airbus and Boeing each an edge

By Scott Hamilton

July 19, 2021, © Leeham News: There are two re-fleeting campaigns coming up that are significant and in which Airbus and Boeing each have the incumbent advantage.

The successor to Alitalia, Italia Trasporti Aereo (ITA), will restructure with a single aircraft provider. Airfinance Journal reported last week that ITA will begin operations with 52 aircraft: 45 single-aisle airplanes and seven twin-aisle aircraft, drawn from the Alitalia fleet. Another 26 aircraft will be added in 2022.

Airbus is the dominant incumbent aircraft provider. There are 12 Boeing 777 Classics that were with Alitalia.

This competition should be Airbus’s to lose.

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Pontifications: The reshaped commercial aviation sector

By Scott Hamilton

July 12, 2021, © Leeham News: With Washington State and the US open for business following nearly 18 months of COVID-pandemic shut-down, there is a lot of optimism in commercial aviation.

In the US, airline passenger traffic headcounts are matching or exceeding pre-pandemic TSA screening numbers. Airlines are placing orders with Airbus, Boeing and even Embraer in slowly increasing frequency.

The supply chain to these three OEMs looks forward to a return to previous production rates.

It’s great to see and even feel this optimism. But the recovery will nevertheless be a slow if steady incline.

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Pontifications: The WTO Airbus/Boeing standstill and pursuing China

June 28, 2021, © Leeham News: The US and European Union agreed on June 15 to a standstill in the 17-year old trade dispute over illegal subsidies to Airbus and Boeing.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) found each violated international rules. By the time all was said and done, the US was authorized to levy tariffs on $7.5bn worth of European goods. The EU received authorization to levy tariffs on $4bn of US goods.

Tariffs on goods went beyond Airbus and Boeing products. But it was 15% tariffs on Airbus planes imported into the US and Boeing planes imported into the EU that were the highest-profile and most costly.

Despite initial reports in some uninformed media that the long-running dispute was “resolved,” in fact, only a standstill was agreed. The US and EU now have five years to negotiate a permanent settlement to Airbus’ “reimbursable launch aid” and Boeing’s benefits from tax breaks and NASA.

The two sides also agreed to put China’s commercial aerospace industry in the crosshairs.

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Pontifications: MHIRJ prepares for narrowbody aftermarket business

By Scott Hamilton

June 21, 2021, © Leeham News: MHIRJ Aviation Group said last week its 100,000 sf expansion of MRO facilities is sized to accommodate narrowbody aircraft.

MHIRJ is the former Bombardier CRJ global product support system purchased last year by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The expansion, valued at $20m, was first disclosed by LNA in its May 31-June 1 one-year anniversary updates.

Related stories:

Ismail Mokabel, Senior Vice President, Head of Aftermarket, told LNA then that MHIRJ would be ready to diversify its aftermarket work beyond the CRJ regional jet after 2023. In a groundbreaking ceremony of the hangar expansion at its Bridgeport (WV) facility June 16, Mokabel disclosed that hangars will be big enough for narrowbody jets.

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Pontification: It’s time to replace the 737, says industry leader

By Scott Hamilton

June 14, 2021, © Leeham News: One of commercial aviation’s most influential leaders said last week Boeing needs to replace the 737 with a new technology airplane.

Steven Udvar-Hazy, chairman of Air Lease Corp., said in a CNBC interview June 9 the 737 is a good airplane, but the time has come for a replacement.

“Boeing has to look at the future. What kind of airplanes that airlines will need with all the environmental challenges, regulatory challenges? What is the airplane type airlines will need 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now?” Hazy said.

“Boeing needs to invest. The 737 is a wonderful airplane, but it’s been in operation since 1967. We have an airplane that its basic design has been around for 54 years. It’s time for a new technology airplane that will give airlines and the public greater efficiency, better economics, better environmental footprint so the airlines can make money with it and yet meet the challenges that we’re facing on the environmental front.”

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Pontifications: Qatar, United, Boom, Airbus and Aerion

By Scott Hamilton

June 7, 2021, © Leeham News: It’s been a busy couple of weeks in commercial aviation, with several reports last week alone.

  • Qatar Airways expresses interest in Boeing 777X-F and Airbus A350F.
  • United Airlines announces a “commercial agreement” with Boom Supersonic to purchase 15 Overture jets and option 35.
  • Boeing exploring reinventing the 757.
  • Airbus moves toward a new wing for A320 family.
  • Aerion Aviation terminates program, shuts down. May 21.

Some of these reports were new and interesting Others were over-hyped and fluff.

Let’s run them down.

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Pontifications: The Wing of Tomorrow and Airbus’ future

May 31, 2021, © Leeham News: It’s not as if Boeing doesn’t have enough challenges right now.

By Scott Hamilton

Airbus seems ready to up the ante by re-winging the A320 series, according to an article last week by Bloomberg News.

The “Wing for Tomorrow,” as Airbus calls it, has been in the works for years. It’s a composite wing, designed for a new production process. The process will be quicker, more efficient and less costly than the cumbersome, expensive autoclave used today.

Public discussion about an enlarged A321 has been around for years. Variously called the A321 Plus Plus or A322, the broad concept is a 12 seat stretch (Bloomberg suggests it could be 24 seats), more powerful engines and the new composite wing. Bloomberg wrote that the wing, with a wider span, could have folding wingtips.

This A322 would be a true Boeing 757 in terms of capacity. Range would be well into the “Middle of the Market” definition proffered by Boeing for the better part of a decade.

But what about the A320 and A319?

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Pontifications: Remembering an industry visionary

By Scott Hamilton

May 24, 2021, © Leeham News: In the 42 years I’ve in associated with commercial aviation, I’ve met lots of people. I became friends with some. Others were good business acquaintances.

Michael Chowdry fell into the former category. Jeff Cole fell into the second.

Both died in an airplane accident Jan. 24, 2001. Chowdry was CEO of Atlas Air, a pioneering ACMI operator.

Cole was the aviation reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Cole went to Denver to interview Chowdry about the ACMI operation. ACMI stood for Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance. The concept is common today. It wasn’t then.

As part of the visit, Chowdry decided to give Cole a ride in a Czech-built L-39 jet trainer he owned. Almost immediately after take-off, the flight ran into trouble. Chowdry, piloting the plane, never got higher than some 400 feet. He couldn’t keep the plane airborne. It crashed, killing himself and Cole instantly.

Now, 20 years later, Chowdry’s widow, Linda, published a biography called No Man’s Son, A Flight from Obscurity to Fame.

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