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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Pontifications: Boeing wins certification of KC-46A; B-52 MRO model may be key to profits

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 10, 2018, © Leeham News: While Boeing Commercial Aircraft grapples with more than four dozen unfinished 737s clogging the space at Renton Airport and Boeing Field, Boeing Defense had some good news last week:

The KC-46A received certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the first delivery is due for late October.

Final military certification is still to come and the wing-pod drogues need certifying, but at long last, Boeing can move forward.

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Pontifications: Supply chain melt down to get worse, says manufacturer

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 3, 2018, © Leeham News: There is more evidence the aerospace supply chain is in meltdown—and it’s going to get worse, a manufacturer tells LNC.

The OEM requested anonymity to speak frankly.

As aerospace analysts gather this week in Seattle for their annual investors day at Boeing, based on the research notes I see, there’s little indication they recognize the magnitude of the evolving problems with the supply chain.

Although the focus recently has been on Boeing and analysts will visit Boeing Wednesday, the issues affect all the OEMs.

I wrote about this 30 days ago. Since then, another Boeing supplier last month acknowledged late deliveries of key parts, reports the Puget Sound Business Journal.

This was followed by a Bloomberg report that Lufthansa Airlines continues to have shortages from Pratt & Whitney for the GTF engines powering the A320neo.

Since then, I’ve had my own additional conversations with the supply chain. The production ramp ups that already have been announced and those being contemplated are in peril and all manufacturers are being affected.

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Pontifications: Boeing aid to Jet Airways uncommon but not unusual

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 27, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing is giving financial help to India’s Jet Airways, according to a news report.

This doesn’t come as a surprise.

Jet Airways has 225 737 MAXes on order (50 direct, the rest listed via lessors). It’s also in what appears to be dire financial straits.

Media reports indicated the airline was possibly going to be out of business in 60 days and it deferred releasing its financial results “indefinitely.” The government is going to probe the airline, according to a press report.

The Boeing aid is not common but it’s not unknown, either.

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Pontifications: Workforce shortage hurts entire supply chain

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 20, 2018, © Leeham News: A growing shortage of workers is exacerbating pressure on suppliers as they struggle to meet current aircraft production rates, even as Airbus and Boeing want to raise them even more.

Add to this the thousands of retirements facing the OEMs in the next 5-10 years, and you can see the strain facing Airbus, Boeing, the engine makers and the suppliers feeding into them.

It also partly explains the shifting trend toward automation. Setting aside the obvious benefits of automation—quality control, accuracy, boring repetitive work, etc—the supply chain in simply facing a growing shortage of workers for which there is no easy answer.

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Pontifications: Horizon Q400 theft spurs thoughts about solo pilot idea

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 13, 2018, © Leeham News: The bizarre theft of a Horizon Airlines Bombardier Q400 at Sea-Tac Airport Friday night by a 29-year old employee will take some time for investigators to unravel.

The employee, a ramp agent, appeared to have no other motive in mind other than a last joy ride before ending his life.

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Pontifications: Supply chain meltdown

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 6, 2018 © Leeham News: It happened to Airbus. It sort of happened to Boeing. It was bound to happen in a much bigger way to Boeing, and it has.

Some 40 737s are now sitting around the Renton assembly plant in a major supply-chain meltdown.

This follows the highly publicized, two-year long supplier meltdown at Airbus as Pratt & Whitney and CFM fell down on engine deliveries and technical problems for their GTF and LEAP-1A engines, respectively.

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Pontifications: thyssenkrupp’s international expansion

By Scott Hamilton

July 30, 2018, © Leeham News: thyssenkrupp, the German supplier, is a mouthful to say.

Even its name is different, using the small “t” rather than a capital “T”.

Being from Chicago, I suitably butchered it when I met at the Farnborough Air Show with its CEO, American Laura Holmes.

I won’t even attempt to write how I mangled the name, but I didn’t feel too bad when I later discovered there is a 15 second YouTube video on its pronunciation: two-sen croup (in German) or tiss-in krup [as in pup] (in English).

Regardless, the company is in an expansion mode internationally—including in Africa.

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Pontifications: Digital transformation picks up steam

By Scott Hamilton

July 23, 2018, © Leeham News, Farnborough: Digital technology, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Thread and Digital Factory technologies continue to gain momentum for aerospace production as companies throughout the supply chain strive to cut costs.

The consulting firm Accenture, in advance of the international air shows in Paris or Farnborough, identifies that it sees as the key stories that will come out of the show.

Accenture was on target for Farnborough.

Indeed, the show was low energy, with fewer orders than many past shows. The largest orders came from that ubiquitous company, Unidentified (though more than 200 airplanes are believed to be destined for China).

Some companies sent smaller delegations or didn’t come at all.

The headline out of United Technologies was about digital. It was just one example of the digital stories at Farnborough this year.

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Pontifications: Final Farnborough forecast

Special Sunday edition of Pontifications.

By Scott Hamilton

July 15, 2018, © Leeham News: The Farnborough Air Show officially starts tomorrow, when airframers begin their public relations presentations and orders are announced.

As this is written on July 13, I’m doing a final update of what to expect from the show. It’s always risky making predictions. If they are overly optimistic or pessimistic, the predictor can look foolish.

But here goes.

LNC took its first forecast look June 25.

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