Airbus, Boeing backlogs in US, EU and tariff exposure

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Introduction

April 25, 2019, © Leeham News: With the European Union now listing aircraft among the US products that will be subject to tariffs, in retaliation for the United States plan to levy tariffs on airplanes and other goods, Airbus faces a greater exposure than Boeing in a trade war.

The US proposes tariffs on aircraft, fuselages, wings and other components produced by the four Airbus member states: France, Germany, Spain and the UK.

Summary
  • Airbus has more aircraft in backlog to the US than Boeing does to the EU.
  • Delta Air Lines is the biggest Airbus US customer, followed by lessor GECAS.
  • Ireland, with its lessors and discount carrier Ryanair, is Boeing’s biggest customer in the EU.
  • The UK carriers are a distant second to Ireland, but Brexit muddles the picture.

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Latest engine problem means NMA EIS slides

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Introduction

April 22, 2019, © Leeham News: If there remains any doubt that Boeing’s prospective New Midmarket Airplane (NMA) won’t be ready for entry into service (EIS) by 2025, it should be dispelled by now.

The grounding of the 737 MAX March 13, which is likely to continue well into the summer, will delay any launch of the program—should Boeing proceed.

The Board of Directors is unlikely to approve Authority to Offer (ATO) the NMA for sale as long as the cash flow for the MAX is outgoing and not in-coming.

Although this has its own impact on the NMA timing, it’s not the critical factor.

Last week, it was revealed that the CFM LEAP engine on the MAX (and the Airbus A321neo) has a problem called coking, which led to the contained engine failure of a Southwest Airlines MAX being ferried from Orlando (FL) to Victorville (CA) for the grounding of the Boeing airplane (see here and here). It’s the latest in a long line of engine maker problems with their current generation of powerplants.

This issue is unrelated to the MAX MCAS grounding. It also affects some engines on the A320neo family.

Summary
  • CFM is considered the favorite to power the NMA.
  • All four engine makers remain under stress and recover modes.
  • Rolls-Royce dropped out of NMA competition in December.
  • LNA reported in March 2018 the engines needed to be the focus for the NMA launch. See here and here.

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Airlines must change tactics to attract maintenance workers

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Introduction

April 18, 2019, © Leeham News: Airlines need to create a pleasing work environment even in the industrial atmosphere of “wrench turners” if they are going to attract millennials to become maintenance workers.

Boeing forecasts a need of more than 600,000 mechanics over the next 20 years.

Some airlines, like Delta, faces an aging workforce, which will produce a surge of retirements.

JetBlue, with a young workforce, faces the challenge of attracting young workers who find better paying jobs in other industries.

Even KLM found it has to change the work environment to attract young employees.

Here’s how their stepping up to these challenges.

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Union asks Congress to intervene in Boeing inspection issue

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By Bryan Corliss

April 15, 2019, © Leeham News: As Boeing faces federal investigations, shareholder lawsuits, Congressional hearings – and possibly subpoenas – linked to the 737 MAX crashes, another issue flying low on the radar could further complicate the company’s relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration and the elected officials who oversee it.

The issue revolves around the company’s plan to end quality control inspections for several thousand tasks performed by Boeing mechanics in the factory.

That plan – first reported by The Seattle Times in January – involves the use of more “smart tools” to perform work more precisely so that inspections will no longer be required for thousands of tasks. Instead of doing quality checks 100% of the time, as Boeing inspectors have been doing for generations, inspectors will sample 1-in-100 tasks, or maybe less, Boeing executives told the newspaper.

Now, the union for inspectors whose work is going away is asking its influential supporters in Congress to intervene with the FAA. It wants a chance to show the agency data it says proves that the new process will lead to more downstream rework on the assembly line, more injured workers and more production delays.

Summary
  • Borrowing from the auto business
  • Union says bad decisions put deliveries at risk
  • Boeing says new system brings down defects
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Airlines show dramatic reductions in cancelations, squawks

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Introduction

April 11, 2019, © Leeham News: Airlines are showing dramatic reductions in canceled flights and aircraft maintenance squawks through its Skywise live diagnostics programs, the most recent of which was rolled out in the US with ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air in January.

Skywise Health Monitoring is the latest program in the Skywise suite of services offered by Airbus to carriers around the world. Skywise Health Monitoring (SHM) joins Skywise Reliability Services (SRS) and Skywise Predictive Maintenance (SPM).

Airbus announced Allegiant’s participation yesterday at the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in Atlanta (GA).

Summary

  • Allegiant cites examples pinpointing one problem misreported, identifying a looming part failure before it happened.
  • Delta Air Lines dramatically reduced maintenance cancellations.
  • $850,000 in savings in one example.
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How will MAX recertification affect future airplanes?

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Introduction

April 8, 2019, © Leeham News: The certification process and cooperation between Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration is under a microscope, subject to international scrutiny, a Congressional hearing, an inspector’s general investigation and another one by the Department of Justice with a Grand Jury.

What is this going to mean for future aircraft programs? And to the MAX?

Summary
  • Boeing 777X certification pace becomes an unknown. Analysts believe substantially longer time possible.
  • What of the certification of the MAX 7 and 10?
  • MAX’s future after grounding.
  • Grounding may extend into June.

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Green aircraft builder may need infusion of greenbacks

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By Bryan Corliss

April 4, 2019, © Leeham News: While one Western Washington electric aircraft company is charging forward with battery-powered flight, another may be encountering headwinds.

Zunum, which has announced plans to put a hybrid-electric-powered aircraft into the air before the year’s end, may need a cash infusion if it’s to stick to that time line.

Unlike MagniX – which announced March 26 a deal with Vancouver’s Harbour Air to start putting electric motors into the airline’s existing fleet of seaplanes – Bothell-based Zunum is pursuing a clean-sheet aircraft design.

Summary
  • Electric plane builder Zunum plans to fly hybrid test aircraft this year.
  • The company says it plans to announce a manufacturing site — or maybe an airframing partner — in 2020.
  • Reports say the company needs more investor cash to avoid schedule slips.
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Returning the MAX to service

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Introduction

April 1, 2019, © Leeham News: Returning the Boeing 737 MAX to services following its grounding should reasonably be a straight-forward affair, if past groundings were examples.

But, to mix a metaphor, there are plenty of unchartered waters with this grounding that stand ready to complicate matters.

Bloomberg reported Saturday that Europe’s FAA equivalent, EASA, skipped last week’s Boeing meeting of 200 pilots and regulators.

Summary:
  • US FAA is no longer the leader or gold standard.
  • EASA, Transport Canada want their own reviews.
  • China, the first to ground the MAX, also suspended plane-by-plane certification.

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MCAS upgrade requires half-hour of pilot training

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Introduction

March 28, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing 737 MAX pilots learning about the revised software upgrade to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) will need a half hour of computer-based training (CBT), the company told the media yesterday in a briefing.

Pilots of the 737 NG who have not yet made the transition to the MAX also have to be trained on the MCAS now. Boeing did not specify if this will take longer than those already trained on the MAX.

Summary
  • No estimate to MAX return to service.
  • Waiting for investigations of the crashes.
  • More information for pilots.

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Canada’s Harbour Air to fit electric engines on its plane

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Introduction

By Bryan Corliss

March 26, 2019, © Leeham News: A Seattle-area engine manufacturer today will announce a significant step toward actually getting an electric-powered passenger aircraft off the ground.

The company, MagniX, is set to announce a partnership with Canada’s Harbour Air to retrofit its fleet of 33 piston-powered de Havilland Beavers, Otters and Twin Otters with 750 hp electric engines.

Harbour Air will equip its fleet of 33 aircraft, including the de Havilland Twin Otter, with electric engines. Source: harbour Air.

The first electric-powered flight – in a six-passenger Beaver – will take place before the end of 2019, according to MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski. MagniX and the Vancouver-based airline plan to pursue a supplemental type certificate for the planes, with a goal of 2021 for EIS.

Modifications will take place at a plant in Vancouver, a spokeswoman said.

Summary
  • Overcoming skepticism.
  • Tested engine, proven airframe.
  • Short-haul routes.

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