Forecast 2022: Boeing hopes for the best on pandemic, 787, MAX

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By Scott Hamilton

Introduction

Dec. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: To say that last two years have been challenging for Boeing is an understatement.

But for the first time in a long time, officials appear optimistic that the worst is behind them. This is not to say that 2022 will be a cakewalk.

  • Boeing is slowly clearing the inventory of 450 737 MAXes produced during the grounding. New airplane production rates are slowing ramping up.
  • China’s recertification of the MAX appears around the corner.
  • Deliveries of the 787 to restart in a few months.
  • Widebody recovery still a challenge.

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Pontifications: EADS went ahead with tanker bid despite long odds against winning

Third in a Series

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: When EADS, then the name of the parent of Airbus, decided to go it alone and bid for the US Air Force contract for the KC-X aerial refueling tanker, officials knew it was an uphill battle.

Despite winning the contract in Round Two, with Northrop Grumman as the lead, the parameters of the competition changed. No longer would the A330-200-based tanker get credit for its greater capabilities that won it the contract in Round Two. Now, the ancient Boeing KC-135 was the baseline to meet. Any bidders—Boeing and EADS—would receive only a pass-fail rating for meeting the baseline.

If the bid price was within 1% of each other, then EADS would receive credit for the extra capacity afforded the A330 tanker over Boeing’s KC-767 offer.

The pass-fail approach caused Northrop to take one look at decide to withdraw from the competition. EADS officials made the decision to proceed anyway, knowing now that winning was unlikely.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 34. Wrap-up.

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca.

December 17, 2021, ©. Leeham News: As we wrap up the series where we look at the monumental work you have to do to get a new aircraft type certified, we will discuss how we need several aircraft variants, addressing different markets, if we shall survive as an aircraft manufacturer.

All successful aircraft manufacturers produce and market a family of aircraft. If you stay with only one variant, you will find it hard to keep good people as the development work ends.

Figure 1. Beech 1900, a 19 seater aircraft developed from the Super King Air 200 with 9 seats. Source: Textron Aviation.

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HOTR: Dropping Embraer comes back to bite Boeing

By the Leeham News Staff

Updated with details of Air France – KLM order

Dec. 16, 2021, © Leeham News: When Boeing decided to drop its joint venture plan with Embraer, there were good business reasons to do so.

The grounding of the 737 MAX was dragging on much longer than anyone ever expected, and there was no end in sight. The coronavirus infections exploded into a global pandemic the month before. Air transportation plunged as much as 95%. Airlines were grounding fleets and some, at that point, looked certain to go bankrupt or go out of business. Boeing was bleeding cash and debt exploded by more than $20bn. The company was in survival mode.

Embraer faced the same industrial and customer challenges Boeing did. And while none of its airplanes were grounded, the E175-E2 turned out to be an airplane with no customers because the US market for which it was designed disappeared. Restrictions in pilot contracts limiting the weight of airlines in regional operations killed the airplane.

Finally, Embraer’s market value at the time the joint venture was agreed was set at $4.5bn. By April 2020, it had fallen to $1.25bn. Given the business environment and the drop in value, why pay the higher price?

With Qantas Airways abandoning Boeing, we now know why going through with the deal may have been smart.

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One A380 departure of two 777-200ER alternatively 787-9? Part 3.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

December 16, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week, we discussed the economics for an airline that dispatches one A380 instead of two smaller widebodies on a trunk route with heavy traffic.

Our example modeled British Airways, which uses the A380 on its highest volume Heathrow departures. Now we finish the series by going deeper into the analysis, examining all cost and revenue aspects, including looking at slot values on congested airports.

Summary
  • The ultimate decision to fly one departure or two per departure wave on slot-constrained airports is the value of using one slot or two to transport x passengers on an airport like London Heathrow.
  • We develop the revenue and costs factors and discuss the airline’s intangible values around this dilemma.

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2022 Outlook depends largely on pandemic, Boeing recovery

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By the Leeham News Team

Dec. 13, 2021, © Leeham News: Attempting a forecast for the new year historically has been reasonably easy. One just started with the stability of the current years, and maybe the previous one or two years, and looked forward to next year.

Until the Boeing 737 MAX grounding, COVID-19 pandemic, and the Boeing 787 suspension of deliveries.

These events upended everything. Boeing’s outlook for 2020 depended on what happened to return the MAX to service. The grounding, initially expected by many to be measured in months, ultimately was measured in years.

The 2020 outlook for the rest of the aircraft manufacturers blew up that March with the global pandemic.

Then, in October 2020, Boeing suspended deliveries of the 787, exacerbating its cash flow crunch.

Commercial aviation began to recover some in late 2020. Airbus, which reduced but didn’t suspend deliveries throughout 2020, saw signs of hope for the narrowbody market—less so for widebody airplanes.

There is a lot of uncertainty, however, that makes looking even one year ahead challenging.

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Pontifications: Applying commercial production principles to the A330 MRTT

Second in a series.

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 13, 2021, © Leeham News: When EADS, the forerunner of Airbus Group, pondered whether to proceed on its own to compete with the A330 MRTT for the US Air Force’s aerial tanker competition, the factors went well beyond the tanker.

Plans for the Airbus A320 program, production ramp-up, and potentially a US final assembly line also were weighed.

“An assessment was made as a consequence of having been through the competition once before and learning from that,” said Sean O’Keefe. O’Keefe was CEO of EADS North America at the time.

Then, O’Keefe said in an interview with LNA in October, was the realization of what Airbus was doing to really ramp up production on A320s. Airbus had a plethora of things to figure out what that would take.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 33. Multi-country Certification

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam and Andrew Telesca.

December 10, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Our aircraft has now achieved its first deliveries and is Entering Into Service (EIS) with our launch customer. 

This covers one customer and one jurisdiction. As each country is sovereign in Airworthiness certification, we have work to do for each market we want to address.

Figure 1. A new 19 seater design, the Cessna 408 SkyCourier, started life as a cargo aircraft certified to US Part 23 standards. Here, the passenger version. Source: Cessna.

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One A380 departure or two 777-200ER alternatively 787-9? Part 2.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

December 9, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week, we checked the economics for an airline that dispatches one A380 instead of two smaller widebodies on a trunk route with heavy traffic.

Our example was modeled after British Airways, which uses the A380 on its highest volume Heathrow departures. We modeled flights where we only considered the passenger payload and looked at operating costs. Now, we add cargo to the mix and look at the generated on the flights.

Summary
  • The A380 was surprisingly competitive against the compared aircraft when we looked at passenger traffic.
  • As expected, when cargo is added, the A380 competitiveness declines. It’s now a matter of what a slot more costs on the departure and destinations airports.

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HOTR: A near $100bn Equity Hole to Fill

By the Leeham News Staff

Dec. 7, 2021, © Leeham News: LNA published an article last April highlighting the divergence in financial fortunes between airlines in lessors in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. While most lessors avoided heavy losses, airlines recorded losses more significant than during any previous downturn.

Many airlines hadn’t published their annual results at the time. LNA now updates the figures with the latest annual results.

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