Airbus, Boeing nearing re-engining decision

Reuters has this report saying Airbus and Boeing will decide, probably next year, whether to re-engine the A320 and 737 families.

The AirInsight team of The Arvai Group, Innovation Analysis Group and Leeham Co., published the report below earlier this month that decisively predicted this will happen. The report may be purchased here.

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Dec. 15: First Flight is success

As everyone interested knows, the first flight of the Boeing 787 was a success. The flight time was cut short by nearly two hours due to deteriorating weather conditions at Boeing Field, the flight’s terminus. The airplane went over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the body of water between Washington State and Canada, rather than Eastern Washington.

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787 First Flight

Update, December 15 0445 AM (Yawn): We’re up and have already done one radio interview for first flight set for 10 am today. Weather is iffy. The hourly forecast has 60% chance of rain at 8am and 50% at 9 and 10 am. As noted below, there can be no standing water on the runway. We were with Boeing last night and a 5,000 ft ceiling and 5 mile forward visibility are the set parameters for first flight.

We joked with Boeing that the ceiling could be down to the cockpit windows and the test pilots would say it was just fine for takeoff. Boeing, which sometimes isn’t known for its Corporate Sense of Humor, got the joke but still felt compelled to deny it!

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COMAC chooses LEAP-X, Russians pick GTF

China’s COMAC selected the CFM International LEAP-X engine to power its new challenge to Airbus and Boeing, the C919 150-200 seat jet, two sources tell us.

Now comes news that Russia’s Irkut selected the Pratt & Whitney P1000G Geared Turbo Fan (GTF) to power its 150-200 seat jet, the MS-21. Both planes have a projected EIS of 2016.

This has implications for Airbus and Boeing. Both companies are pondering whether to re-engine the A320 and 737 families and are holding talks with CFM (Airbus and Boeing), PW (Airbus and Boeing), International Aero Engines (Airbus) and Rolls-Royce (Airbus). We firmly believe Airbus and Boeing will decide next year to re-engine the airplanes.

AirInsight is about to release a report on the re-engine prospect.

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United splits wide-body buy

United Airlines today (Dec. 08) ordered 25 Airbus A350s and 25 Boeing 787s with options for an equal number.

It’s clear why UA did this: the A350 is too big to replace the Boeing 767-300 and the 787 is too small to replace the Boeing 777 and 747-400.

Here is the press release.

A conference call with UA is to begin shortly. We’ll provide a running log.

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USAF used criteria GAO rejected in new DRFP: KC-30 backers

Update, December 8:

Bill Barksdale, Boeing KC-7A7 spokesman, emailed us with a response to this column. We have posted his note in the Comments section below.

Original Post:

The USAF used criteria in the current Draft RFP for the KC-X competition that had been rejected by the Government Accountability Office’s review of the Boeing protest last year, an analysis by prepared by EADS North America and Northrop Grumman asserts.

This unfairly tilts the current DRFP toward the Boeing KC-767 and is the basis Northrop why said it will not submit a bid unless major changes are made with the Final RFP.

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USAF RFP supports smaller airplane: Boeing

Bloomberg quotes the CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems as saying the USAF Draft RFP for the KC-X competition favors the smaller 767.

Bloomberg writes:

Boeing Says Tanker Request Favors a 767-Based Plane (Update1)
2009-12-03 16:13:59.557 GMT

By Gopal Ratnam
Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) — Boeing Co. defense chief Dennis Muilenburg said the U.S. Air Force’s requirements for a new aerial refueling tanker favor a 767-based airplane.

“It’s important for us to allow the customer to finalize the requirement, but if you look at the current request for proposals it would push us toward a 767-based plane,” Muilenburg said today at a conference sponsored by Credit Suisse Group AG in New York.
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No KC-30 means no A330 plant in Mobile

Airbus has said it before but it is worth reminding people that if Northrop Grumman follows through on its statement that it will not bid the KC-30 in the KC-X competition unless significant changes are made to the Draft Request for Proposals (DRFP), Airbus won’t build an A330-200F assembly plant on its own in Mobile (AL).

We checked with Airbus immediately after Northrop’s announcement and a spokesman confirmed that the company’s position has not changed: there is no “business case” for an A330F final assembly line (FAL) without the KC-30 tanker contract.

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Northrop says no bid on tanker unless…

Update, December 2, 3:00 pm: DOD Buzz reports that Rep. John Murtha, a powerful House member, says there has to be competition for the KC-X and doesn’t rule out Congress stepping in.

This is something we forgot to mention in our Update below. We fully expect an effort on the part of some Members of Congress to renew the effort for a split buy. As we have written many times before, we can think of many strategic reasons this makes sense, let alone the political solution. But this also only makes sense if the procurement is doubled from the 12-18 per year proposed by DOD to 24-36 a year. We also believe the KC-777 is the best replacement for the aging KC-10.

There is enough strategic need to go around for everyone. That this continues to be a political football should be an embarrassment to all concerned.

Update, December 2:

(See Original Post below the jump for background.)

The prospect that Northrop Grumman won’t submit a bid unless the Final RFP is changed to allow for the different sizes between the KC-30 and the KC-767 is very similar to what happened with the 2006 competition.

The USAF then initially did not plan an “extra credit” for larger capabilities exceeding the minimum requirements of the airplane. Northrop threatened to withdraw from that competition unless the FRFP allowed for extra credit–and prevailed.

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KC-30 MRTT refuels fighters through boom, drogues

EADS released these photos of the KC-30 MRTT refueling fighters. The company previously released photos of refueling as viewed through the 3D controller’s panel video screen. The MRTT has now “passed gas” (as we like to say, much to the consternation of the more straight-laced crowd) through the new flying boom from the MRTT.

Source: EADS North America

These delayed tests have been the target of much criticism from Boeing supporters, who pointed out that EADS has been delayed in meeting milestones for the Royal Australian Air Force deliveries, which are now 18 months late. About six months of the delay was due to customer change-order requests.