Norwegian’s attempt to survive

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction

Dec. 12, 2019, © Leeham News: Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS), struggling to survive after years of over-expansion, took major steps over the last few weeks to overhaul its finances and strategy.

Major strategic shifts included the sale of the Argentinian subsidiary, the end of trans-Atlantic narrowbody operations, and exit out of long-haul markets in two Scandinavian capitals.

The airline appointed Jacob Shram, a former McKinsey consultant and Statoil executive, as a new CEO. Former JetBlue Chief Commercial Officer Marty St. George is also joining the airline on an interim basis.

After years of breakneck expansion, the airline vowed a shift in focus on profitability and business efficiency. In this article, LNA analyzes the various announcements and assesses whether NAS has a chance to survive in the long term.

Summary
  • (Finally) cutting the losses;
  • No stones left unturned to raise cash;
  • Drastically altered fleet plans;
  • Chances of working out.

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Understanding Rolls-Royce’s financials

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Dec. 2, 2019, © Leeham News: Rolls-Royce continues to be in the spotlight for the Trent 1000 durability issues, with no end in sight. The engine manufacturer recently increased the total disruption cost estimate to £2.4bn.

The engine-related charges and substantial research and development expenditures have raised questions about Rolls-Royce’s financial health. As of the end of 2018, the company had a net negative £1bn equity on its balance sheet.

However, the company has a market capitalization of around £14bn and holds a credit rating comfortably in Investment Grade territory.

This article analyzes the reasons for the disconnect between the company book value and market capitalization. Accounting differences between the USA’s GAAP and Europe’s IFRS play a significant role.

Rolls-Royce’s strategic choices in the early 2010s will have ramifications for engine development on future commercial aircraft programs.

Summary
  • A tumultuous history;
  • From cash cow to binge development spending;
  • Brexit and IFRS accounting paint bleaker pictures than reality;
  • Strategic decision bites back;
  • A lifeline and future engine programs.

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Several aircraft programs beset by engine woes

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By Judson Rollins

Nov. 25, 2019, © Leeham News: Nearly every manufacturer of jet engines is experiencing problems with various models, which is causing delays for several prominent Boeing and Airbus programs. The Airbus A220, A320neo, A330neo and Boeing 787, 777X are all experiencing engine-related setbacks.

Grounded 787s at London Heathrow. Source: Twitter / Alex Macheras.

Summary

  • Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF) operational limitations on A220, A320neo.
  • CFM LEAP said to be causing renewed A320neo delivery delays.
  • Multiple new airworthiness directives on Trent 1000, 7000.
  • GE9x component issues causing delays to first 777X test flight.

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Is re-engining the Boeing 767 a good idea?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

October 17, 2019, © Leeham News: FlightGlobal writes Boeing is investigating re-engining the 767-400ER with GE GEnx engines to produce a new freighter and perhaps a passenger aircraft as a replacement for the NMA project. Development costs would be lower and it would be easier to get a business plan which closes for the upgraded 767 than for the NMA.

We commented on the idea earlier in the week and here follows a technical analysis of what re-engining the 767 would bring.

Summary:

  • The 767 is 40 years old in its base design. We look at the fundamentals to understand the trades involved in extending its life with new engines.
  • We also compare the 767 technologies with those for the NMA to understand the compromises of an updated 767RE compared with a clean sheet NMA.

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A380 service life struggles

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction

Sep. 30, 2019, © Leeham News: It hasn’t been an easy year for the Airbus A380 program since the end of production was announced in February.

Lufthansa announced in March that Airbus would buy back six A380s in 2022/2023 as part of a follow up order for 20 A350-900s. Air France intends to retire its Superjumbo fleet by 2022. Emirates retired two aircraft that were less than seven years old.

A number of factors are leading airlines to prematurely retire their A380s.

Summary
  • Small MRO market increases maintenance costs;
  • (Prohibitively) expensive cabin refurbishments;
  • Operators struggling to operate profitably year-round;
  • A lack of secondary market;
  • No business case for engine PIPs.

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Opportunity and challenges of a 787-10ER, Part 3.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

September 5, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we examined how a longer-range model of Boeing’s 787-10 would look like. We designed a 787-10ER version (ER for Extended Range) by increasing the Maximum TakeOff Weight of the aircraft. We also did some other adjustments to accommodate the increased weight.

We now compare the resulting aircraft with its nearest competitor, the Airbus A350-900. How would a 787-10ER stack up against an A350-900?

Summary:
  • A 787-10ER is a narrower aircraft with a smaller wing than an A350-900. This affects passenger comfort but it also gives a lighter aircraft with less wetted area.
  • The later generation engines on the A350-900 closes the difference in operating costs depending on how the aircraft is operated.

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Pontifications: 50×2

By Scott Hamilton

June 3, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus and Embraer are 50 years old this year.

Airbus broke out the party hats last Wednesday. It arranged a formation flying of all its in-production aircraft, including the Beluga XL. It launched a website microsite with its history. A new book, Airbus, The First 50 Years, has been issued. A celebration is planned for the Paris Air Show.

Embraer’s anniversary is Aug. 19, so at this point, its party plans haven’t been solidified, but there will likely be something at the Paris Air Show. Embraer plans to have its new specially painted E195-E2 at the air show.

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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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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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Delta Tech Ops 5-year goal to double revenues

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Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines CEO.

April 9, 2019, © Leeham News: Delta Air Lines has the third largest third-party MRO company in North America and aggressively seeks to grow, in sharp contrast to its competitors.

While American and United airlines have limited their own maintenance, repair and overhaul, let alone seek third party business, Delta Tech Ops is a business unit and profit center. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said today that Tech Ops will achieve $1bn in revenues this year and has a goal of $2bn within five years.

Bastian was the lead-off speaker at the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference in Atlanta this week.

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