No new turboprop from Embraer for now

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May 27, 2019, © Leeham News: Embraer is not going to launch a new 70-90 seat turboprop now or at the Paris Air Show next month, the CEO of its Commercial Aviation unit said today at the company’s pre-air show briefings in Brazil.

Speculation has been rising since word leaked last year that Embraer began showing a conceptual turboprop airliner to potential customers. But John Slattery, CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation, said the business case has yet to be closed, information still needs to be gathered and analyzed, and studies of the engine technology—including hybrid electric—still must be done.

ATR and Bombardier are the leading global manufacturers of turboprop airliners today. ATR has an overwhelming majority of the backlog, between 80%-85%. Bombardier neglected sales of the Q400 during the development of the C Series. The company last year agreed to sell the program to Canada’s Viking Air. The transaction is expected to close this summer.

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Tariff threats, China certification issues slow A220 sales

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May 23, 2019, © Leeham News, Toulouse: Airbus took over majority interest the Bombardier C Series July 1 last year. The company immediately announced 120 orders for the CS300, renamed the A220-300, at the Farnborough Air Show, but the deals had been in the works with Bombardier before the takeover.

Another flurry of orders was announced at the end of last year.

Since then, virtually nothing.

Tuesday at the Airbus Innovation Days, Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer said the threat of tariffs in the US and the lack of certification in China effectively shuts out two thirds of the world market to the A220.

Monday, tensions between Canada and the US eased a bit when the Trump Administration removed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. But Airbus remains a Trump target at the World Trade Organization over outstanding claims against Airbus for the A380 and A350.

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Airbus has the “rock” and “hard place” for Boeing NMA

#AirbusID

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May 21, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus has a “rock” and a “hard place” facing any manufacturer that might want to bring a new airplane to the market.

So says Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer of Airbus, who made the declaration at the first day of the Airbus Innovations Days pre-Paris Air Show briefings today.

He called the A321neo the “rock” and the A330-800 the “hard place.”

His oblique reference to another manufacturer was, of course, Boeing and its prospective New Midmarket Airplane, or NMA.

Boeing was widely expected to announce Authority to Offer the NMA for sale during the Paris Air Show next month. The 737 MAX crisis understood to put off this decision until the MAX is returned to service.

In the Middle of the Market, there “isn’t a one solution fits all. Airbus has by far the most competitive solution,” Scherer said. In this market space, a flexible solution is required,” he said.” The A320/321 offers single aisle economics approaching wide-body range. The A330-800 is re-engined, providing Airbus a left-hook, right-hook solution.

These mature programs give Airbus the pricing flexibility.

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FAA prepared to act alone to lift MAX grounding

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Introduction

May 9, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing hopes that the Federal Aviation Administration will lift its grounding order for the 737 MAX as early as next month. It is prepared to act alone, LNA has confirmed, rather than waiting for a consensus from global regulations.

Some airlines and aerospace financial analysts, as well as others like LNA, consultants and observers, wonder if global regulators will agree with the FAA or move more slowly.

The FAA already initially concluded simulator training won’t be necessary for pilots to understand the now-infamous MCAS system and its upgrades. After one round of comments for the proposal, which is common in the FAA process, the agency is accepting a second round of comments.

Transport Canada, however, already indicated it wants simulator training before lifting the grounding order affecting nearly four dozen MAXes at Canada’s two largest airlines, Air Canada and Westjet.

Other agencies haven’t publicly weighed in.

There were some reports the FAA may wait for all regulators to agree before lifting the grounding order.

But LNA confirmed the FAA will act on its own review, while fully briefing global regulators, who will make their own decisions.

Summary
  • “Regulatory power grab” in focus, writes aerospace analyst.
  • Some hope for early lifting of grounding order, others don’t see return to service until September.
  • Is the Joint Authorities Technical Review panel the precursor to a new global regulator for certification?

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The decline and fall of Bombardier

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Introduction

May 6, 2019, © Leeham News: Bombardier was once the leader in providing regional airliners to the industry.

Today, it’s all but exited the industry.

With the announcement that its Belfast manufacturing facility and a smaller one in Morocco are for sale, only the CRJ regional airliner remains.

Expectations are that that, too, will be gone before too long. Bombardier has been weighing its “strategic options” of the CRJ since last year, when it agreed to sell the Q400 turboprop to Canada’s Viking Air. This deal is to close mid-year.

Here’s a look back how Bombardier went from a leader to an also-ran.

Summary
  • Bombardier pioneered the regional jetliner and dominated the turboprop sector.
  • Embraer surpassed the former and ATR the latter.
  • A bold move to jump into the lower end of the market dominated by Airbus and Boeing, coupled with bad management and over-extending the balance sheet, nearly bankrupted the company.

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MAX impact on Boeing NMA beginning to emerge

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Introduction

May 2, 2019, © Leeham News: There was indication last week Boeing’s decision on whether to approve the New Midmarket Airplane program will slide.

CEO Dennis Muilenburg said on the company’s first quarter earnings call the focus is returning the grounded 737 MAX to service.

A decision on authorizing the sales force to offer the NMA for sale is ambiguous. For the first time, targeting 2025 for entry into service appears to be acknowledged as iffy.

The statements confirm LNA’s analysis and our reports that the 2025 EIS is unlike.

Summary
  • Advanced manufacturing is key to NMA production, but all elements need to fall into place—a “production moonshot.”
  • For more than a year, LNA and others predicted the NMA EIS in 2025 is not possible.
  • Engines won’t be ready by 2025 EIS. See here and here from March 2018.
  • Latest woes from CFM on the LEAP add to uncertainty; CFM is the favorite for NMA. See here.
  • Engine selection by Boeing put off until after MAX problems solved, grounding lifted.
  • Authority to Offer for sale at Paris Air Show unlikely and 2025 EIS now in doubt.

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Impact of MAX grounding emerges with earnings reports

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Introduction

April 29, 2019, © Leeham News: With first quarter financial results beginning to be reported, the impact of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX is beginning to emerge.

Boeing 737 MAXes stored at Everett Paine Field. Photo by Jennifer Schuld.

The first out was from Boeing itself, followed by a few of the airlines that operated the MAX before it was grounded March 13.

Boeing reported the grounding cost it about $1bn, for just the two weeks the airplane has been on the ground.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, which was using the MAX on new trans-Atlantic services, lost millions of dollars.

American Airlines will take a $350m hit from the groundings.

Southwest Airlines surprised many with a stronger-than-expected first quarter despite having 34 MAXes on the ground and a cost of $200m.

Air Canada extended the removal of its MAX fleet from its schedules another month, to Aug. 1.

Summary
  • JP Morgan doesn’t predict deliveries resuming until the fourth quarter.
  • The investment bank sees 200 MAXes in inventory accumulating and cash losses of $1.5bn per month while the plane is grounded.
  • Wall Street hopes that 2020 will be a normalized year.
  • If simulator training is required by regulators before the MAX can return to service, JP Morgan estimates more than 4,400 pilots need to be trained.

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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

#MROAM

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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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