Pontifications: A fresh look at the world’s worst aviation accident

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 19, 2018, © Leeham News: Collision on Tenerife is a new book that dissects the worst accident in aviation history, the collision between two Boeing 747s operated by Pan American World Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

The accident on Tenerife Island on March 27, 1977, killed 583 passengers and crew on the two airplanes. Only 61 survived, all on the Pan Am flight.

It was the worst death toll of any aviation accident. Read more

Pontifications: Writing had been on the wall for years for Q400 sale; CRJ is next

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 12, 2018, © Leeham News: The writing had really been on the wall for the past few years, regardless what the corporate line was: Bombardier was one day going to sell the Q400 program or shut it down.

Better to sell it and get at least some money out of it, no matter how small.

Bombardier agreed to sell the program to British Columbia-based Viking Air for a mere $300m–$250m, net of fees.

Ditto the CRJ program. It’s on life support. It’s a design dating to the 1980s, the passenger experience has long been eclipsed by the Embraer E-Jet and it will be also by Mitsubishi’s MRJ when this jet finally comes on line in 2020. Read more

Pontifications: Pilots train for instrumentation mismatches

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 5, 2018, © Leeham News: It was a week ago that Lion Air JT 610 crashed into the sea, just 13 minutes after takeoff.

The crash was the first involving the Boeing 737 MAX (in this case, the -8 model). The airplane was virtually new, having been delivered to the airline in August. Lion Air was not new to the 737, having flown the NG models for years.

Because the airplane crashed into the sea, recovery of the black boxes was not quick. The flight data recorder was recovered several days later but the cockpit voice recorder is still missing. The FDR data apparently has not yet been downloaded for a preliminary read. At least nothing has been made public, if it has. Read more

Pontifications: Engines, engines, engines

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 29, 2018, © Leeham Co.: Engines, engines, engines.

News emerged last week that Rolls-Royce admitted its continuing problems with the Trent 1000 that powers the Boeing 787 now bled over to the Trent 7000.

RR will fall short of delivering the number of engines need to Airbus for the A330neo, meaning fewer deliveries of the airplane this year.

Boeing said it is clearing its inventory of 737 MAXes, but CFM LEAP engines are still late, slowing the effort.

Pratt & Whitney’s GTF engine deliveries to Airbus are caught up, but technical issues still plague in-service engines. CFM still has technical issues as well, though not as severe or persistent as with GTF, with its LEAP engines. Read more

Pontifications: Market Intelligence from NY

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 22, 2018, © Leeham News: I was in New York City last week for a series of meetings. Here’s what “the street” is talking about. I make no judgment calls about whether the thoughts are on target or not. Read more

Pontifications: “We will develop and actionable plan to develop supply chain”

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 15, 2018, © Leeham News: “With your help, we will develop actionable plans to develop the supply chain.”

This was the leading message from the 5th Annual South Carolina Aerospace Conference and Expo, held Tuesday and Wednesday last week in Columbia (SC).

Conference officials also said they are “exploring a national aerospace coalition.”

SAVE THE DATE

Second Annual Southeast Aerospace & Defence Conference

Organized by Leeham Co. and Airfinance Journal

April 14-16, 2019

Francis Marion Hotel

Charleston, SC

The South Carolina Council on Competitive/SC Aerospace already have a Letter of Intent with Washington State’s Aerospace Futures Alliance “for the purpose of advancing the aerospace industry across the US. The LOI will serve as the platform for exploring the creation of a national aerospace Coalition (Coalition) with the objective of strengthening and growing commercial aviation, space, and unmanned aerial systems in the US through a variety of activities.”

Read more

Pontifications: Amazon’s quiet plans to grow its airline

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 8, 2018, © Leeham News: Amazon, the giant on-line retailer, continues to move quietly to expand its Amazon Air cargo carrier, with plans to grow the airline to a size that could rival FedEx, market sources tell LNC.

Amazon’s contracting with Atlas Air, ATSG and others for Boeing 767F services is well known.

So are plans for a $1.5bn cargo center at the Cincinnati (OH) airport (which is really across the state line in Kentucky). This expansion will support more than 100 airplanes. Operations are targeted to begin in 2020.

Prime operates about 40 through its airline partners and is in the market for 10 more, LNC is told.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Read more

Pontifications: “Enterprise P&L” key to NMA business case

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 4, 2018, © Leeham News: A consensus appears to have developed among aerospace analysts that the business model for the prospective Boeing New Midmarket Aircraft is about much more than the profit-and-loss case for a stand-alone airplane program.

It’s something that Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has alluded to many times on earnings calls and elsewhere.

But now, as Boeing moves toward a decision to launch the NMA program next year, the business model has fundamentally become defined.

Note that I say, “toward a decision,” not “if the program will be launched.” I’m convinced Boeing will greenlight the NMA.

Read more

Pontifications: Workforce plan for NMA to be announced soon

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 1, 2018, © Leeham Co.: The Choose Washington NMA task force said last week it will release this month recommendations for improving aerospace workforce activities in Washington.

It’s about time.

The task force was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to come up with a plan to persuade Boeing to choose Washington as the assembly site for its prospective New Midmarket Airplane, the NMA.

Two studies, one by the Teal Group and the other by Price Waterhouse Cooper, conclude Washington is the best aerospace cluster and location to build the NMA. The conclusions are unsurprising, given the maturity, size and scope of the cluster in Puget Sound (the greater Seattle area). No other place in the country has this level of aerospace activity.

But the reports failed to adequately address the top priority that Boeing has: the need for skilled workers and engineers.

At long last, the NMA council is getting there.

Read more

Pontifications: Time for Odds and Ends

Sept. 24, 2018, © Leeham News: This week we catch up on Odds and Ends.

Boeing catching up on 737

By Scott Hamilton

Boeing has reversed the number of 737s piling up at Renton Airport and Boeing Field and is starting to burn off the “gliders” and other aircraft plagued by traveled work.

Although some aerospace analysts came away from the investors day this month skeptical that Boeing would clear the backlog by year end, barring another hiccup of size, it looks like the company will do so.

Spirit Aerosystems said it had caught up on the delivery of fuselages while Boeing told aerospace analysts at its investors’ day this month that delays were still causing issues.

How does this conflict of information converge?

It’s a matter of sequencing the fuselages back into the system, I’m told.

Read more