March 20, 2019, © Leeham Co: I’ve been covering or employed in commercial aviation since 1979. I’m an aviation historian buff.
I’ve read all about the groundings of the Douglas DC-6, Lockheed Constellation, Martin 202 and de Havilland Comet. I read about how the Federal Aviation Administration didn’t ground the Lockheed Electra, choosing operating restrictions instead.
I lived through the grounding of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Boeing 787. As a reporter, I walked through the debris of the American Airlines DC-10 crash that led to the grounding. I went to the crash scene of the Delta Air Lines Boeing 727 at D/FW Airport and I’ve covered many, many crashes through reporting and as a commentator.
I’ve never seen anything evolve in air accidents as has evolved in the Boeing 737 MAX investigations.
March 18, 2019, © Leeham News: There’s a saying that history repeats itself.
When it comes to the crisis of the Boeing 737 MAX, I’m reminded of the crisis Lockheed faced in 1959-1960 when the Electra propjet crashed in September and the following March, killing all aboard both airplanes.
The Electra entered service Jan. 12, 1959, with Eastern Airlines. It was considered a pilot’s airplane. Coming off decades of piston engine aircraft and early in the jet age, the Electra was the only airplane that was over-powered, piston or jet. Timing, however, was poor and crashes soon overtook the euphoria.
March 11, 2019, © Leeham News: It’s late. There have been creeping delays. There’s been design creep. There were unknown unknowns. It’s way over budget.
No, it’s not a new airplane program, though the parallels are quite apparent.
It’s our new house.
After a three year process, including changing builders, going through the city twice, hitting expensive unknowns and facing rising costs, today is finally, finally, moving day.
It’s been a horrible experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
This will sound familiar to Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Mitsubishi, Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney and, to a lesser extent, GE and CFM. Only Embraer can say it finished on time and on budget.
March 4, 2019, © Leeham News: Another week, another NMA story.
For an airplane that doesn’t exist, the prospective Boeing NMA continues to dominate much of the aerospace news.
Last week’s announcement by Rolls-Royce that it withdrew—in December, as it turns out—from the competition to power the NMA prompted a flurry of stories in aerospace media, including LNA.
Some stories suggested RR’s withdrawal meant Boeing was getting closer to launching the airplane.
Boeing, in January, said Authority to Offer might come this year and program launch had moved from 2019 to 2020.
Two prominent consultants predicted at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference last month the odds were 60-40 or 65-35 Boeing would proceed.
Maybe, but I have to tell you that conversations I had last week in the wake of the Rolls announcement are not encouraging.
Feb. 25, 2019, © Leeham News: Even as Boeing put off a decision whether to launch the New Midmarket Aircraft until 2020, next month could be an important milestone—not only for the program but especially for the engine makers.
Unless delayed, engine down-select is supposed to be made in March.
This is a critical decision that could have huge implications to one of the engine OEMs—Rolls-Royce.
Feb. 18, 2019, © Leeham News: Last week’s column about the revolutionary Boeing 747 prompted some Twitter interaction asking what other commercial airplanes might be considered “revolutionary.”
I have my views. Let’s ask readers.
There are also three polls below the jump in addition to the usual comment section. Polling is open for one week.
Feb. 11, 2019, © Leeham News: Few airplanes truly can be called revolutionary. Most are evolutionary.
The Boeing 747 was one of those that falls into the former category.
Just as the Boeing 707 revolutionized air travel, so did the 747.
The spaciousness and, after a period of engine difficulties, the economics put the 747 into a class by itself.
Feb. 4, 2019, © Leeham News: There is more to Emirates Airline’s renewed its interest in the Airbus A350 and the potential swap-out of Airbus A380 orders than meets the eye.
The Airfinance Journal Dublin conference is worth attending for the program, but the real news is often generated on the sidelines. This is where I picked up noise about the Emirates interest in swapping the A350 for the A380.
The renewed interest, and growing disaffection with the A380 (over the engine issues) was part of it.
But Emirates’ interest in the A350 stems more from a realization the Boeing 787-10 won’t do the job the airline wants, according to the sideline conversation at the conference.
Jan. 28, 2019, © Leeham News: Launch by Boeing of the New Midmarket Aircraft (NMA) is pretty much a given, despite a still undecided business case, say people on the sidelines of the Airfinance Journal’s Dublin 2019 conference.
Here is a potpourri of information picked up at the conference, which is attended by about 2,000 people.
Jan. 21, 2019, © Leeham News: Last week’s Airbus North America Tour (#AirbusNATour on Twitter) was a whirlwind 2 ½ days encompassing Montreal Mirabel, Columbus (MS) and Mobile (AL).
To those who don’t follow Airbus Americas closely, the Mississippi stop might be a puzzle. I’ll come back to this to explain why an international group of media, including me, made this trek.
Let’s start with Montreal.