July 15, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing can’t catch a break.
Some may argue it doesn’t deserve one, given what’s come out about the 737 MAX development. And the sloppy production of the 787 at the Charleston (SC) plant. And the FOD issues with the KC-46A at the Everett (WA) plant.
To be sure, Boeing has gotten a lot of bad press it’s deserved. But last week, two pieces of news had connections to the MAX that were (1) overwrought and (2) unwarranted.
July 8, 2019, © Leeham News: When a company authorizes or sponsors a book about some major event, the book is usually a puff piece meant for the coffee table in reception.
Airbus authorized the book, Airbus: The First 50 Years, but it’s no puff piece. It’s an honest, candid accounting of how the company came to be, navigating through country and corporate politics, face offs with rival Boeing, reporting the insider trading allegations and ending with the as-yet unfinished corruption scandal investigations.
Nicola Clark, the aerospace reporter for the International Herald Tribune, did a superb job up to her usual reporting standards while avoiding the puff pieces that usually come with an authorized book.
July 1, 2019, © Leeham News: During the Airbus Innovation Days, and in other forums, officials promoted the idea of a 10-abreast coach-class in the A350 XWB.
Compared with the 10-abreast Boeing 777X, officials said the economics of the A350-1000 are unbeatable (along with other claims).
Boeing claims the 777-9 is 25% more economical on a per-seat basis than the A350-1000.
This is an unfair comparison, of course, because the -9 seats about 40 more passengers than the -1000 at nine abreast. Hence, the push for a 10-abreast A350.
All well and good, except a 10-abreast A350 totally busts the XWB brand built up so carefully since it was launched some 10 years ago.
June 17, 2019, © Leeham News: The Paris Air Show opens today and the elephant in the room is the Boeing 737 MAX.
There is no telling when the airplane will get FAA approval to return to service. According to some news reports, Boeing will hasn’t turned over the MCAS revisions to the FAA for review, testing and approval.
The acting administrator of the FAA said he expects the MAX to be back in the air by the end of the year. Some leapt to the conclusion this means December—and it may, but let’s remember September, October and November are before the “end of the year,” too.
There’s no telling how other global regulators will act, and when, to conduct their own review and approvals. Airlines would like a global action. It’s tough to tell customers one country sees the airplane as safe but others don’t.
June 10, 2019, © Leeham News: Embraer is 50 years old Aug. 19.
This must be the classic case of mixed feelings. By the end of the year, if regulators approve, the marquis business unit, Commercial Aviation, will be spun off and the Embraer name for it disappears into Boeing Brasil-Commercial (BB-C).
Boeing will own 80% of the new joint venture and Embraer retains 20%. Boeing has the governance and chairman. Embraer’s CEO of Commercial Aviation becomes president and CEO of BB-C, but the direction now will clearly be set by Boeing.
Sixty percent of Embraer’s services unit goes into BB-C.
Embraer and Boeing also created a second JV, for the KC-390 program. Embraer retains 51% and Boeing gets 49%.
Embraer retains full control over the remaining defense and business jet units.
Officials put a “best face” on the pending changes at Embraer’s pre-Paris Air Show briefings May 27-29, but they really could not mask the uncertainties and, to some degree, resignation about the future.
May 27, 2019, © Leeham News: Airlines are increasingly going public with desires to be compensated by Boeing for the grounding of the 737 MAX.
Norwegian Air Shuttle and Spice Jet said shortly after the MAX grounding March 13 they were going to seek compensation from Boeing.
Compensation for delivery delays is also a risk to Boeing. This already has reached $1bn, one aviation lawyer estimates, and stands to climb by billions more, depending on how long new deliveries are delayed.
But Boeing is preparing to take a preemptive defensive move against these latter claims.
So says Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of The Boeing Co.
As stories drip, drip, drip out in The Seattle Times, New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other media about Boeing’s development process of the 737 MAX, one can’t help but wonder otherwise.
Pilots weren’t told of MCAS. Switch functions were changed. Warning lights were inoperative, but the pilot manuals indicated otherwise. Boeing discovered one problem but didn’t tell the FAA for a year. A single point of failure. The absence of information about the MCAS in the pilot manual. A second software glitch is found in the flight control system. Boeing said it didn’t want to “inundate” pilots with information. Blaming the pilots for the accidents.
But nothing is Boeing’s fault. There was no failure, no gap, no technical problem. Or so says Muilenburg.
Yet within one week of the Lion Air accident, in which Boeing pointed the finger at the pilots, Boeing was diving into the MCAS design.
It goes on and on.
If “safety is our top priority,” it’s time for Boeing to man up and do the right thing, regardless of the legal liabilities.
It’s time to back simulator training on MCAS before pilots can fly the MAX. Read more
Bombardier is exiting commercial aviation. The company already is under contract to sell the Q400. It’s CRJ program is for sale, or lacking any, inevitably headed for termination.
Embraer agreed to spin off its Commercial Aviation division into a new joint venture with Boeing. Its E-175 E2, designed with changes to the US Scope Clause in mind, is too heavy to comply with contract restrictions. The predecessor, the E-175 E1, is Scope-compliant but it also is aging technology.
Neither the Sukhoi SSJ100 nor the COMAC ARJ-21 are serious competitors.
Mitsubishi, beset by five of delays that pushed its MRJ90 seven years behind schedule, has been dismissed by most as too little, too late, too heavy and not Scope compliant.
Yet MITAC, as Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp is known, has quietly reworked the MRJ into a Scope-compliant “concept” aircraft that will be revealed at the Paris Air Show next month.
Officials said the aircraft, the name for which hasn’t yet been revealed, will be the only new generation, Scope-compliant aircraft, positioning Mitsubishi to become a key player in the regional aircraft industry.
May 6, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing has a big job ahead of it to restore faith in the 737 MAX with flight crews and the flying public.
Recertification is still weeks or perhaps months away. The return to service may be anywhere from July to August or even longer, depending on how global regulators proceed with review and approval of the revised MCAS software and pilot training.
Pilots at airlines seem split whether a “simple” computer training protocol is sufficient or whether a flight simulator training is required.
Let’s set all this aside on the safe assumption this will work itself out, whether sooner or later.
So, the question then becomes: how does Boeing repair the MAX brand—and its own.
April 29, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing got roundly thumped for blaming the pilots in the Lion Air flight 610 crash involving the 737 MAX last October.
It took months before Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued a video in which, among other things, he said, “We own it.” He was referring to safety of the MAX.
This was widely interpreted as Boeing stepping up and taking responsibility for at least some of the causes of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.
Last Wednesday, he took it all back.
On the first quarter earnings call, Muilenburg denied there was any “technical slip or gap” in designing the now famous MCAS system. He said “actions not taken” contributed to the crash, a thinly veiled reference once again to pilot error. (More on this below.)