Pontifications: Doubts continue over Boeing NMA launch

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.

By Scott Hamilton

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.

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Transcript: RR told Boeing before end of 2018 it’s out of NMA competition

Feb. 28, 2019, © Leeham News: The announcement today by Rolls-Royce that it has withdrawn from the competition to provide an engine for the Boeing New Midmarket Airplane came as a surprise.

Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce. Source: Youtube.

This leaves CFM and Pratt & Whitney as the remaining competitors.

RR’s withdrawal wasn’t the only surprise.

CEO Warren East revealed Boeing had been notified shortly before the end of 2018.

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Airbus appears poised to launch A321XLR

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Introduction

Feb. 25, 2019, © Leeham News: The longer Boeing dithers on launching the New Midmarket Airplane, the harder it is to close an already difficult business case.

News last week that Airbus finally, at long last, is appears about to launch its Xtra Long Range A321XLR this year is overdue. Doing so will make Boeing’s NMA business case more difficult to close.

The aircraft should have been launch in late 2017, an insider told LNA recently. But the corruption scandals enveloping Airbus disrupted plans and drove executives to indecision. Launching the A321XLR was put on hold.

Summary
  • Killing the NMA.
  • A321XLR details.
  • Narrow market.
  • Engine down select soon.

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Pontifications: March is a critical month for engine OEMs

By Scott Hamilton

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.

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Pontifications: Which airplanes are revolutionary or evolutionary?

By Scott Hamilton

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.

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Pontifications: 787-10 engines too small for Emirates

By Scott Hamilton

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.

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Key customers shrug off Boeing’s 2020 NMA launch date

Jan. 30, 2019, © Leeham News: Key customers and suppliers shrugged off Boeing’s announcement today that a program launch for the prospective New Midmarket Aircraft won’t come until 2020.

If Boeing goes ahead with the NMA, a decision yet to be made, an announcement was widely expected at the Paris Air Show in June.

Authority to Offer (ATO) the airplane for sale may still come as early as March or April.

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UTC-Collins merger creates super-supplier

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By Bryan Corliss

Jan. 28, 2019, © Leeham News: You might have missed it over the holidays, but something happened about the time you polished off the last of your Thanksgiving leftovers that just might have changed the balance of power between the major players in our industry.

That something was the closing of the merger between United Technologies Corp. and Rockwell Collins.

The deal, which formally closed on Nov. 26, created a new super-supplier that rivals Boeing’s Commercial Airplane division in size, outstrips it in terms of profitability and has the potential to upset the multi-tiered supply chain pyramid the industry has grown used to over the past few decades.

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Countdown to decision on Boeing’s NMA, Part 3: Engine selection

By Dan Catchpole

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Introduction

January 21 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing number crunchers are feverishly working through engine bids from Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney and CFM International, the partnership of Safran and General Electric (GE), the three competitors vying to power Boeing’s New Midmarket Airplane (NMA). Boeing is expected to ask for a best and final offer by the end of January, with engine selection planned in February.

That gives Boeing enough time to get authority to offer from the board of directors, likely in March or April, and to launch the NMA (likely as the 797) at the Paris Air Show in June.

Boeing faces big challenges in closing the business case, though. The process has slogged on far longer than company leaders had expected. Even so, Boeing executives’ relentless optimism about the NMA business case stands in sharp contrast to the skepticism of many industry insiders. At least two of the engine makers, for example, think market demand is about half of Boeing’s public forecast.

Each of the three engine makers vying to get on the NMA have some significant liability. The industry insiders and analysts interviewed for this article say is the decision really comes down to Pratt and CFM. Given the pressures on NMA business case, many see a scaled-up CFM Leap as the front runner. It offers the least risk, even if it also has the least upside.

Summary:
  • CFM: The LEAP has performed well since going into service, but GE’s financial troubles could weigh down its bid.
  • Pratt & Whitney: PW’s GTF is a great fit for NMA requirements, but the engine maker has a full plate with the GTF on five new airplane programs.
  • Rolls-Royce: The NMA would be an opportunity to launch Rolls’ UltraFan, but does Boeing want to bet on a completely new engine?

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Airbus new A220 is more of a match for the A320neo than Airbus says

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

January 17, 2019, © Leeham News: It’s all about the new Airbus A220 on the North America press tour Airbus is hosting this week. Airbus got this top modern aircraft as a windfall after Boeing tried to block its sale on the US Market in 2017.

While the tour presents the A220 in the best of lights, it can’t shine brighter than Airbus’ own A320neo. The graph from the tour which positions them in capacity and range shows a clear little brother-large brother relationship. The reality, when comparing apples to apples, is another.

Figure 1. Airbus payload-range chart with the new A220-100 and -300 placed as shorter ranged than the A320neo and A321neo.

Summary:

  • The ideal positioning of the A220 and A320 is when the larger models are higher in capacity and flies further. They cost more and shall, therefore, be better.
  • But the comparison is not made with the same yardsticks. Use the same rules and the result is another.
  • The more modern A220-300 can then give the A320neo a match both in range and fuel consumption per passenger.

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