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.
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).
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
March 21, 2019, © Leeham News: There are many estimates for how much flight delays and disruptions cost airlines and passengers. But everyone agrees the total number is big—possibly more than $1bn for each major US airline each year.
In 2017, delays cost airlines and passengers $26.6bn, according to the FAA/Nextor estimate. That total includes direct cost to airlines and travelers, lost demand and indirect costs. Congestion at the three major airports serving New York City directly cost air carriers an estimated $834m a year, according to a 2009 report.
Yet despite the high cost, flight on-time statistics are basically where they were 20 years ago. Moreover, there are no discernible positive trends in the data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Of course, airlines take steps to decrease or limit flight delays, and, of course, some things, such as severe weather, are out of anyone’s control.
At the same time, airlines have shown little interest in pushing for low-cost solutions to decreasing system-wide congestion. There is no clear or easy explanations for carrier’s lack of motivation. However, interviews with current and former airline executives, researchers and others highlighted a few key factors.
March 14, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus’ effort to slash supply costs for A220 production is “an ongoing exercise at this point,” Joe Marcheschi, Airbus’ head of procurement in North America, told LNA in an interview last month.
“There are no specific, let’s say, achievements yet,” he said. “We are working closely with our supply chain.”
It takes time to squeeze cost out of the supply chain, he said. “We only took over July 1. That’s when we got full knowledge of the existing contracts.”
In January, Philippe Balducchi, head of the Airbus-led venture overseeing production, told journalists that the aerospace giant aims to realize “significant double-digit” percentage cost reduction. He indicated that most of the savings likely would come from the supply chain, according to news reports.
“Look, the airplane is absolutely fantastic—it just costs a lot of money,” Marcheschi said. “Now, we have to find a way to reduce the cost.”
March 11, 2019, © Leeham News: Digital transformation is critical to Boeing’s evolving business model. But suppliers are in no rush to hand over their data to Boeing.
For more than a year, the airplane maker has been moving toward a new system for managing inventory and parts. As LNA noted last year, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ management expects the new system, known as SAP, will streamline parts delivery and cut costs for Boeing and suppliers. BCA has been pushing suppliers for more transparency of their own supply chains and production flows. It likely would not surprise many industry watchers if BCA moves to integrate its suppliers into SAP in some fashion down the road.
Managers and executives at several suppliers told LNA that they expect Boeing to push for greater access to their companies’ internal data in coming years. They expressed ambivalence between potential efficiency gains and loss of autonomy.