The future of regional jets is limited by choices, Scope Clause

By Judson Rollins
Introduction 

July 6, 2020, © Leeham News: The fallout from COVID-19 is beginning to intersect with the beginning of a wave of regional jet retirements globally. However, the market for smaller commercial jets today stretches the meaning of “regional” as most aircraft still in production have 100+ seats and can fly more than 2,500nm.

In the critical US market, both Embraer’s E175-E2 and Mitsubishi’s remaining M90 are too heavy to comply with the Scope Clause limits imposed by pilot labor agreements. These clauses restrict regional carrier flying to 76 seats and 86,000 lbs MTOW, while also capping the number of regional jets that can be flown by each carrier.

Delta Air Lines is limited to a total regional fleet of 450 aircraft, while American Airlines is capped at 75% of its single-aisle fleet and United Airlines is limited to 255 aircraft plus 90% of single-aisles in service. Earlier this year, American accelerated the retirement of some EMB-140s to maintain compliance with its limit.

Summary

  • Regional jet utilization will be lower in the near term due to higher unit costs and US Scope Clause fleet limits.
  • There will still be some replacement demand for regional jets over the next decade.
  • Scope Clause relief is unlikely to happen in the coming round of US pilot contract negotiations.
  • Lack of Scope relief will extend the life of Embraer’s E175-E1 through the 2020s.

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2020 Outlook for Airbus, Boeing, et al

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Introduction

By the  Leeham News team.

Jan. 2, 2020, © Leeham News: This will be a pivotal year for Boeing.

It will be a year of challenges for Airbus.

Embraer Commercial Aviation should disappear.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries faces final decisions for the SpaceJet.

Overhanging international trade is the US presidential election.

These are just some of the headlines to look for in 2020.

Leeham News and Analysis provides its annual outlook as the new year, and the new decade, begins.

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Pontifications: Heard around the Paris Air Show

June 24, 2019, © Leeham News: Heard around the Paris Air Show last week:

Airbus

Reporters long used to the entertaining and sometimes acerbic tongue former super-salesman John Leahy wondered how Christian Scherer would compare.

By Scott Hamilton

Scherer’s own sharp tongue began to emerge at the Airbus Innovation Days pre-air show briefing last month and got sharper at the executive round table the Friday before and on Day 1 of the international event.

On Day 2, Boeing and International Airlines Group (British Airways, et al) stunned the world journalists and Airbus with the LOI for 200 737 MAXes. On Thursday, Scherer expressed his displeasure.

The deal wasn’t unprecedented. In the 1990s, Boeing blindsided Leahy with an exclusive deal with American Airlines, followed by Delta and Continental airlines. “I was…pissed,” Leahy told LNA years later.

It seems Scherer is following in Leahy’s shoes in more ways than one.

The launch of the A321XLR was totally expected. The top question: does this kill the Boeing NMA? (LNA’s answer: Nope.)

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2019 Paris Air Show Preview

By Vincent Valery

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June 3, 2019, © Leeham News: The 2019 Paris Air Show kicks off in two weeks at the Le Bourget Exhibition Center.

In this preview, we will go over what to expect from commercial aircraft OEMs.

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Pontifications: By accident of timing, convergence of events, Mitsubishi is now well positioned to become major RJ player

By Scott HamiltonMay 13, 2019, © Leeham News: The regional jetliner industry is on the cusp of a major shift.

Bombardier is exiting commercial aviation. The company already is under contract to sell the Q400. It’s CRJ program is for sale, or lacking any, inevitably headed for termination.

Embraer agreed to spin off its Commercial Aviation division into a new joint venture with Boeing. Its E-175 E2, designed with changes to the US Scope Clause in mind, is too heavy to comply with contract restrictions. The predecessor, the E-175 E1, is Scope-compliant but it also is aging technology.

Neither the Sukhoi SSJ100 nor the COMAC ARJ-21 are serious competitors.

Mitsubishi, beset by five of delays that pushed its MRJ90 seven years behind schedule, has been dismissed by most as too little, too late, too heavy and not Scope compliant.

Yet MITAC, as Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp  is known, has quietly reworked the MRJ into a Scope-compliant “concept” aircraft that will be revealed at the Paris Air Show next month.

Officials said the aircraft, the name for which hasn’t yet been revealed, will be the only new generation, Scope-compliant aircraft, positioning Mitsubishi to become a key player in the regional aircraft industry.

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2019 Outlook: Irkut leads Russia’s airliner industry

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

January 3, 2019, © Leeham News.: The last year was a quiet year for the airliner side of Irkut Corporation (Irkut). It continued testing its two MC-21 single-aisle airliners and rolled out the third test aircraft.

Behind the scenes, there were larger changes. Irkut was handed the shares of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC), the designer and producer of the Superjet 100. The move is part of merging the Russian airliner industry into one company.

During 2018, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the parent of Irkut and SCAC, started the consolidation by moving all new airliner projects to Irkut, including the CR929 widebody project with China. The consolidation will continue 2019.

Summary:
  • Consolidating the disparate airliner projects within UAC makes sense. The competition is International, not Irkut versus Sukhoi, Tupolev or Ilyushin.
  • Will this improve the checkered fortunes of Russian airliner business? It’s the right move to get away from 70 years of Soviet isolation and rules of business. But it’s not the last change; more is needed.
  • The coming year will be crucial for the SSJ100 to find its model for how to support Western airlines. Interjet went half OK but CityJet didn’t. Will Adria be better?
  • It’s also an important flight test year for MC-21, which needs to pick up speed to certificate in 2020.
  • The CR929 widebody is now an Irkut project. Will the change improve the chance of keeping the time plan?

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Delays over for MRJ program, execs insist

By Dan Catchpole

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July 3, 2018, © Leeham News:   Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. executives insist the MRJ90 is past the seemingly endless delays that have dogged its development. It is on track toward type certification and first delivery in mid-2020.

MRJ90 flight test vehicles at Mitsubishi’s Moses Lake (WA) flight testing facility. Source: Mitsubishi.

The problem is when it arrives, the 81-seat MRJ90 will be the wrong fit for the US market. Program executives praised the plane’s advanced design during media briefings at the MRJ flight test center in Moses Lake (WA), but when they spoke about market opportunity, it was for the smaller MRJ70, which is at least three years away from entering service.

Starting in 2022, Mitsubishi expects a wave of 50-seat regional jet retirements in the North American market. And North America—specifically the United States—”is the most important market for us to make this business successful,” said Yugo Fukuhara, Mitsubishi Aircraft vice president and general manager of sales and marketing.

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Embraer ponders new, smaller jet

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Introduction

March 5, 2018, © Leeham Co.: News emerged last week that Embraer is considering a new jet family smaller than its current E2 line.

This would replace the E170, which Embraer decided not to upgrade to the E2. The E170 hasn’t sold wellin recent years, as the E175 became the preferred airplane in Embraer’s sub-90 seat market.

Embraer recognizes it needs a second family of airplanes to complement the E2. It’s been considering reentering the turboprop market, but demand is limited.

Restarting a sub-76-seat jet is not without risk, however.

Summary
  • Turboprop market is small over 20 years.
  • 60-99 seat market is a bit larger, but with competitors.
  • Business cases for each are challenging.

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Next Sukhoi Superjet is a 75 seater

By Bjorn Fehrm

February 7, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: The President of Sukhoi Civil AirCraft (SCAC), Alexander Rubtsov (who is also the Sales and Marketing Manager of the civil aircraft division of Russia’s United Aircraft, UAC), told Flight Global at the Singapore Air Show there has been a decision to develop a 75-seat version of Sukhoi SuperJet (SSJ).

Sukhoi and United Aircraft have studied whether to develop a larger or smaller version of the SSJ. A Russian order for 100 of the smaller model tipped the decision to the 75-seat model.

Figure 1. SSJ100/95 from Cityjet wetleased to Brussels Airlines. Source: SCAC.

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United Aircraft’s and COMAC’s eventful year

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 03, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: Both United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and COMAC got their single-aisle airliner projects into flight test during 2017. The MC-21 and C919 had their first flights within less than a month of each other, with the Chinese C919 first at 5th of May, followed by the Irkut MC-21 on the 28th of May.

Superficially the aircraft and projects are similar. Both are 150-220 seat single aisle projects in the mold of Airbus’ A320neo and Boeing’s 737 MAX programs. Looking a bit closer, they are different. One is extending the state of the art in several areas; the other is playing safe.

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