2019 Outlook: Boeing’s decision on NMA is the headline to watch

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Introduction

Dec. 21, 2018, © Leeham News: It is a stretch to say 2019 is a pivotal year for Boeing.

There would have to be events of tsunami proportions to be pivotal for a company with revenues of more than $90bn.

But there is no doubt 2019 will be a very important year for Boeing.

Summary
  • The headline to watch will be the widely anticipated launch of the New Midmarket Aircraft, also called the 797.
  • The 777X begins flight testing next year. Sales are stalled for the newest airplane of the Boeing family.
  • The proposed new joint venture between Boeing and Embraer is expected to be consummated by the end of the year.

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2019 Outlook: leaving Airbus’ troubled year behind

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

December 19, 2018, © Leeham News.: Next year is a time when Airbus hopes to leave its troubled 2018 behind.

But 2018 was also when the company wanted to leave the troubles of 2017 behind it.

Not only did 2018 not improve. In a number of ways it turned worse.

Engineless A320neos at Toulouse Airport. Airbus hopes this is a thing of the past. Photo via Google images.

Turmoil in the management ranks brought back memories of the politically infested Airbus of 20 years ago. And there were other issues.

Production problems with the A320 continued. The A330neo was further delayed and the A380 order from Emirates to save the program took forever to materialize. The negotiations to fix the contracts for A400M couldn’t be brought to a close.

There were two bright lights in the year. The A350 was now out of its cabin supplier problems and delivering aircraft to plan. The other was the gift from Boeing’s suing Bombardier and its CSeries the year before. The top modern Bombardier CS100/300 became Airbus A220 on the first of July. Price tag; $1 for 50.01% of the program.

Summary
  • Changes in executives are almost over.
  • Pratt & Whitney’s engine delivery delays are caught up and CFM’s delays are diminishing.
  • Production ramp ups are peaking (for now) and deliveries should be at a record rate next year.
  • Airbus is waiting for Boeing to decide whether to launch the New Midmarket Aircraft.

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Lion Air threatens to cancel MAX order; no impact to Boeing seen

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Introduction

Dec. 17, 2018, © Leeham News: Lion Air’s co-founder is threatening to cancel an order for more than 200 Boeing 737 MAXes following what he says is Boeing’s blaming the airline for the Oct. 29 crash of Flight 610.

All 189 people aboard the three month old 737-8 died when the plane plunged into the Java Sea 11 minutes after take-off from Jakarta.

Calling a Boeing statement issued Nov. 27 a “betrayal,” co-founder Rusdi Kirana Dec. 3 threatened to cancel to big Boeing order. He amplified his remarks Dec. 11.

Summary
  • Lion Air has 229 MAXes scheduled for delivery between 2019-2026.
  • The carrier has 148 A320neos scheduled for delivery, believed intended for its leasing company.
  • Deliveries mostly overlap.
  • Another source of A320neos is apparently available.
  • Analysis of impact to Boeing

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Has the A380 worse economics than the 777-9 or A350-1000?

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Introduction

December 13, 2018, © Leeham News.: Last week we checked if the claims in media the Airbus A380 is more expensive to operate than a Boeing 777-300ER has merit. As so often, media compared apples with oranges.

Comparing like-for-like, the A380 does just fine if you configure it with equal comfort cabins. And if you can fill it. Now we compare the A380 economics to more modern alternatives, Airbus’ A350-1000 and Boeing’s 777-9.

Summary:

  • Configured to equal comfort standards the A380 is surprisingly competitive on seat mile costs to the A350-1000 and 777-9.
  • We then lowered the A380 seat count from Airbus’ latest proposals, to find the cross-over point. It’s pretty close to Emirates two-class A380s.

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Tanker wars may be back

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Introduction

Dec. 10, 2018, © Leeham News: The tanker wars may be back.

Airbus has teamed with Lockheed Martin to offer the Airbus A330-200MRTT to the Pentagon in a for-hire business model. The agreement also provides the prospect of “conceptualizing the tanker of the future.” (The press release is here.)

From 2001-2011, the US Air Force, Pentagon and even Congress were embroiled in controversy over recapitalization of the USAF aerial refueling tanker fleet.

The KC-135s, based on the Boeing 707, were aging, expensive to maintain and outdated.

After 9/11, Boeing proposed leasing 100 tankers based on the 767-200ER to the USAF. A scandal surrounding the USAF approval of this deal sent the air force’s procurement office and Boeing’s CFO to jail and resulted in the resignation of CEO Phil Condit. The lease deal was canceled.

Summary
  • Three rounds of tanker procurement were filled with improprieties, bitter charges and counter charges.
  • Boeing currently has a contract for 52 KC-46A tankers out of an initial procurement of 179.
  • The air force sees a need for 100 more tankers on an accelerated timeline.
  • Fee-based refueling is not unknown to the Pentagon.

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Is the A380 less economical than a 777-300ER?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

December 06, 2018, © Leeham News.: Our Monday article “A380 suffers new blow, future remains bleak” describes how Air France hands back five of their 10 Airbus A380-800 to their lessor with start next year.

The article details the reasons behind the returns. Other media writes the A380 are notably more expensive to run than a Boeing 777-300ER. As so often, this is a serious case of apples and oranges.

Summary:

  • To compare aircraft like-for-like, they need to be compared with the same rules for cabins and operations.
  • When this is done, the A380 is not more expensive to operate than a 777-300ER.
  • The caveat is: if filled to the same load factor.
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A380 suffers new blow, future remains bleak

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Air France is returning five of 10 A380s to lessors. Photo via Google images.

Dec. 3, 2018, © Leeham News: Air France will return five leased Airbus A380s to lessors next year and in 2020, citing high operating and crew costs compared with the Boeing 777-300ER that is the principal long-haul airplane in its fleet.

This is another blow to the world’s largest passenger aircraft program.

It underscores something Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in 2017: “If you fill it 80% or more, it is a money-making machine.”

Air France’s A380 load factor is not a matter of public record, but the airline itself has a general passenger-avoidance problem due to repeated strikes and generally poor service. The airline’s A380 interiors are dated and the business class is not on a par with even its own Boeing airplanes—nor competitors’ A380s. Read more

Is Airbus working on a 200t A330neo Regional?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

November 29, 2018, © Leeham News.: Bloomberg wrote in the week Airbus is bringing out a 200 tonnes version of the A330neo as a counterstroke to the NMA. Having checked the characteristic of such a version, we contacted Airbus for clarifications.

Here is what Airbus said and how any 200t A330neo fits into Airbus future deliveries.

Summary:

  • A 200t A330neo would not be an ideal version to take market share away from a future NMA. It would have a shorter range than even the shortest range NMA.
  • Airbus explained what they really said on Monday. A 200 tonnes A330neo was part of presenting the flexibility of the A330neo concept, including how this flexibility would work against a planned NMA.

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Airbus’ A320neo Plus, A350neo and new single-aisle airplane

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Introduction

Nov. 26, 2018, © Leeham News: There are few secrets that stay secret for long in commercial aviation.

Airplane concepts are discussed with customers. Information must be shared with suppliers. And then there’s the manufacturer’s own website.

Bloomberg News reported last week that Airbus is looking for help to design the A320neo Plus, an entirely new single aisle airplane and a re-engined A350, the A350neo. All this came from Airbus’ website, Bloomberg reported.

Some of this is old news.

Summary
  • The A320neo Plus concepts have been around for a few years.
  • The idea that Airbus has conceived a new single-aisle airplane is not new, either. It’s shown open-rotor and futuristic design concepts at air shows, conferences and earnings meetings for years (as has Boeing).
  • Although not mentioned in the Bloomberg article, a new wide-body airliner is also something Airbus conceived as a possible response to the Boeing New Midmarket Airplane—this isn’t new, either.
  • What is new is the prospect of an A350neo. The airplane has been in service only a few years, but if one stops and thinks about it, a neo is already a logical progression.

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Delta orders more A330-900, pushes out A350-900

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

November 22, 2018, © Leeham News.: Delta and Airbus announced Friday; Delta will increase its A330-900 order from 25 to 35 aircraft and push out 10 ordered A350-900 five years, to 2025-2026.

Why this change for Delta? Can the 10 added A330-900 replace the planned A350-900? If so, will other airlines do the same?Summary:

  • Delta is a large operator of A330. With the new order, it will grow to 60 aircraft in the next five years. Through its Delta TechOps operation, it has achieved low operating costs for the A330.
  • In its 251t version available from 2020, the A330-900 can cover most of Delta’s Asian destinations.
  • The A350-900 is now a sub-fleet of 15 aircraft until 2025. It will be reserved for Delta’s longest Asian destinations and where higher capacity is needed.

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