Farnborough Air Show preview


This is really expected to be a boring show from the perspective of orders. Airbus has been downplaying expectations following last year’s Paris Air Show blow-out of more than 1,200 A320neo orders. How can you match that? The answer is, Airbus can’t.

Boeing will certainly firm up hundreds of 737 MAX commitments, so this will be Boeing’s show. And there is the buzz that Boeing is partnering with Lockheed Martin and NASA (oh, another government subsidy?) to produce a 2,500 mph SST, with details supposed to come at the Air Show. Then there is the leak that the 787 will fly there, the first time in 28 years Boeing has an aerial flying display.

We’ve talked with several journalists and industry personnel who are skipping the Air Show this year. So are we, and we’ve been at the Farnborough and Paris air shows since 2008. We just don’t expect enough news this year that we can’t get from the press releases.

So here are our expectations for the show:

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Odds and Ends: 787 fuel savings at ANA; Airbus will benefit from Boeing

ANA 787s: Market Watch quotes an ANA official saying the Boeing 787-8 is saving 21% in fuel over eh previous airplanes. The article didn’t ID the previous planes, but they were the Boeing 767-300ER. Note, too, that the initial 787-8s are heavy and with Rolls-Royce engines that don’t initially meet specs.

Airbus to benefit from Boeing: The latter is closing its Wichita operations. The former will likely hire some of Boeing’s soon-to-be-out-of-work engineers. Here’s the article. Note that former Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who is now governor, was present garbed in Airbus colors. This is the same Brownback who couldn’t diss Airbus enough during the EADS-Boeing tanker competition. Now Airbus seems to be Brownback’s best friend.

China-EU showdown over ETS: China continues to refuse to comply with the European Union’s demand that carbon emissions information be provided. China, which already refused to firm up orders for 45 Airbus A330s, threatened to impound European airplanes if the EU retaliates against China’s refusal to comply.

Air Lease Corp to order MAX: Steve  Udvar-Hazy, CEO of the lessor, plans to order the 737 MAX within the next few weeks. Boeing wants to firm up orders from ALC, CIT Aerospace, ILFC, GECAS and Aviation Capital Group by or at the Farnborough Air Show.

Odds and Ends: 787 ramp up, ISTAT, Airbus, the price of oil in 1968

787 Ramp-Up: UBS Securities issued a research note Monday in which it reports that the 787 rate ramp-up to 10 per month–a goal Boeing’s to be by the end of 2013–has slipped to the first quarter of 2014.

  • More from UBS: Supply chain ahead of Boeing: We believe the supply chain is still ahead of Boeing given significant rework and a high level of component deliveries in 2009-10, although a pick up is expected soon. We understand Boeing now plans to ramp from current 3.5/mo to 5/mo in Q4 (had been Q1), 7/mo in Q2 2013 (had been Q4 2012) and 10/mo in Q1 2014 (had been Q2 2013).

ISTAT: We’re at the annual ISTAT AGM in Phoenix and we’ll be reporting throughout the event odds and ends (adding to this post initially, separate posts later on). So come back often.


  • 40% of Airbus 2011 deliveries were via lessors: 115 through direct sale to lessors, 95 via lessor purchase-leaseback
  • Lessor sees overlapping production of 737 NG with MAX, A320neo with CEO due to limited availability of production slots because of massive early neo/MAX commitments.
  • Congressional targeting Ex-Im Bank financing is short-sighted; cutting funding will harm Boeing, GE, Pratt & Whitney.
  • Airbus has delivered 10 A330-200Fs, four operators now.
  • Undercurrent buzz about 737MAX. Watch for developments in the next weeks and months.
  • Airbus about to start final assembly line for A350.
  • Flight tests of Trent XWB going well.
  • Airbus now advertising A350-1000 at 369 passengers, up from 350.

From Twitter, via Phil LeBeau of CNBC: @Boeing says it has NOT changed its goal of building 10 Dreamliners per month by end of 2013.

Back to ISTAT:

  • A321neo gains 600nm, A320neo gains 500nm.
  • Average oil price 1968 non-inflation adjusted was $3.18bbl (that’s per barrel, not per gallon!).
  • Airbus sold 448 A320ceo since launch of neo.
  • Airbus competes 99% of the time against Boeing, not new entrants, for sales. Barriers to entry for a new aircraft type very high rather than changing fleet type.

Side trip to Ex-Im:

Take a read of this column on the Ex-Im Bank financing controversy.

Back to ISTAT:


  • Mike Bair: We are in a march to put Airbus out of business in the twin-aisle space: 777 vs A340, 787 vs A330, 747-8 vs A380.
  • 787-10 will have  50% lower operating costs than A340-600, Boeing’s Bair claims.
  • 747-8I has turned out to be the darling of billionaires who have too much money–Bair.
  • New revenue opportunities for long, thin routes validate the 787 like San Diego to Japan. Opening new markets and opportunities for customers.
  • Boeing uses 162 seats in 737-800/8 vs A320ceo/neo 150 seat comparisons; Airbus uses 157 seats for the Boeing.
  • Every engine/airframe combination has a sweet spot, a bucket’s flat area with 3-4 inches of fan diameter. In MAX’s case, this means the 68.4  inch fan is the sweet spot.
  • Our intent is to build the MAX until the market decides it doesn’t want it any more.

Odds and Ends: Airworthiness Directives and sloppy headline writing

Airworthiness Directives: The New York Times has a good piece about ADs that should put many general assignment reporters to shame. The rhubarb over the ADs applied to the Airbus A380 spurred Nicola Clark’s reporting. This is a must-read not only for the general public to actually understand what’s going on in the world of aviation, it’s a must-read for the hysterical headline-writers who seem more interested in page hits than in facts.

787 Surge Line starts in June: Boeing’s 787 Surge Line begins operation in June. This is the line in Everett that is being created as risk mitigation for the new line in Charleston as the workforce there comes up on the learning curve. The two lines are intended to have a capacity of three per month, while Line 1 in Everett has a capacity of seven per month.

The Surge Line is supposed to terminate in May 2014, according to internal Boeing documents obtained by the IAM 751 in the now-defunct NLRB case. But we hope, and believe, the Surge Line could become a long-term line as Boeing considers ways to go beyond the 10/mo production rate goal by the end of 2013. We believe Boeing has to significantly go beyond this rate to catch up from delays that are hitting four years for some customers, as well as to open up slots for demand.

Rolls-Royce and the Trent XWB: Flight Global has a long article about RR’s engine development for the Airbus A350.

Dark Clouds over Asia: Aspire Aviation has a long piece about Asian airlines that are struggling. Asia has been a bright spot for Boeing and Airbus orders. Perhaps the bubble is about to burst.

Odds and Ends: Revisiting a 757 crash; Boeing-WTO appeal due this week

Boeing 757 Crash: In 1996 a Birgenair Boeing 757 crashed into the sea, following discrepancies with the pitot tubes speed indications. This story revisits the circumstances.

Boeing WTO appeal: The appeal of the WTO panel findings that Boeing received illegal subsidies is due Wednesday. The EU filed a technical appeal to start the clock while the US Trade Representative filed a substantive appeal. Both sides will claim victory, in yet another round of what we consider to be a meaningless load of [stuff]. Our disdain for the WTO is well known to readers of this column.

Rolls-Royce: Flight Global has an interesting piece on Rolls-Royce’s product strategy.

90-Seat Turbo-Props: Flight Global also has an article on the engine development for the prospective 90-seat turbo-props.

COMAC C919: China’s aerospace authority, CAAC, has taken a hands-off approach to the design of the COMAC C919–a development that isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of the project.

Southwest Airlines: A blog item from Terry Maxon of the Dallas Morning News lists Southwest operations at hub cities–and what’s interesting is that Chicago Midway Airport is one of WN”s least efficient city from an asset utilization standpoint. Look at the number of gates-to-flights in the charts.

Dubai Air Show review

The Dubai Air Show is over, with record orders being announced.

2 x B777F for Qatar

20 x A320neo for ACG

45 x A320neo/30 x A320  for Spirit (MoU)

50 x A320neo for Qatar with PW1100G-JM (+30 options)

5 x A380 for Qatar (+3 options)

ALAFCO announcing GTF for all A320neo

Emirates 50+20 777-300ERS

10 x CS300 for Atlasjet (LoI)

We took a bye on daily coverage because we weren’t there and the on-site reporters could do better than we could from afar. So we decided to do a post-show pontification.


Airbus and Boeing dominated the headline–no surprise there–but while Boeing had a blow-out order with 50+20 777-300ERs from Emirates Airlines, Airbus had another mind-xxxx from the mercurial Akbar “U-Turn” Al-Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways. Al-Baker is now the subject of a mocking Twitter account, @AkbarAlFaker, having a conversation with @MichaelOhReally.

This Bloomberg story gives a nice wrap.

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Embraer decides on re-engine, takes a pass on NSA

Embraer announced that it will take a pass on developing a New Small Airplane in the 130-155 seat class and instead re-engine the E-Jet series, possibly with stretch to 133 seats (smack in the middle of the Bombardier CSeries 100/300 size). Targeted entry-in-service (EIS) is 2018.

Aeroturbopower, which focuses on engine stuff, already has this back-of-the-envelope analysis.

As Aeroturbopower notes, EMB favors a one-stop, trans-continental airplane (2,000-2,200nm) over the full transcontinental range of the CSeries (although BBD offers a lighter-weight CSeries with 2,200nm range as well). About 90% of the US domestic flights are within this range but the E-Jet is 2×2 vs the CS 2×3 seating. Aeroturbopower concludes the E-Jet will have lower seat costs.

Aeroturbopower also compares the E-Jet with the Mitsubishi MRJ.

PW gains major wins in Rolls-Royce deals

Here are some additional thoughts about the Rolls-Royce/Pratt & Whitney deal announced yesterday.

PW is a real winner in this set of transactions.

  • Buying RR out of the International Aero Engines partnership gives PW far more latitude in making deals for the V2500 engines and the ability to connect V2500 transactions to transitions to Geared TurboFan orders. RR had no incentives to make connected deals, since there was nothing in it for them if a customer ordered the GTF instead of the V2500. CFM had the competitive advantage in offering the CFM56 for legacy airplanes and the LEAP for the A320neo. With PW now controlling the V2500 partnership, PW has come closer to leveling the playing field. Read more

Rolls-Royce, PW join forces for 120-230 seat engine–and to focus on GTF technology

It is a stunning announcement. Not so much the buyout of Rolls-Royce by Pratt & Whitney from the International Aero Engines partnership. This has been expected for more than a year.

What’s stunning in the new partnership RR and PW announced to develop engines in the 120-230 seat market and to focus on Geared Turbo Fan technology.

AirInsight has a commentary on the tie-up.

This is a major shift in the engine competition and a major endorsement of the GTF engine and techn0logy, creating a more formidable competitor to the dominate CFM International.

We’ll have more to say after we digest this a bit and talk with the market.