Boeing took a hard hit on the Defense budget announced today by Sec. Robert Gates. The C-17 program will be canceled after the current contract is filled. The CSAR-X helicopter procurement is canceled. The Airborne Laser system based on the 747, is reduced to research only. The Next Gen bomber is off the table. There are other programs in which Boeing was involved that are gone, too.
This makes the recompete for the KC-X aerial tanker all that much more important. Gates said this will proceed in the summer.
Update: Defense Industry Daily has this superb recap of the winning and losing programs.
We did a podcast with Addison Schonland of IAG and George Talbot of the Mobile Press-Register about the implications for the tanker procurement.
Here is a link to Gates’ formal statement.
Following the annual ISTAT meeting in March, we published a piece about the Boeing view of the so-called funding gap for 2009: the financing shortfall seen by just about everyone except Boeing and Airbus as between $10bn and $25bn this year needed to pay for more than 1,000 airplanes due for delivery by the Big Two and Bombardier and Embraer.
Boeing believes the gap is $0-$5bn and Airbus, though not presenting at ISTAT, has a similar view.
We mentioned in our story that we have been invited to visit Boeing Capital officials to get detail about their methodology. We did, and we wrote that piece for Commercial Aviation Online, for which we are a regular contributor. That piece was published April 2. We can now reprint it below.
Update, April 3: The New York Times has this long piece on the prospect of a split procurement.
It is a subtle but major shift on the controversial proposal to split the KC-X aerial tanker contract between Northrop Grumman and Boeing.
KIRO TV (CBS) in Seattle interviewed US Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Boeing/WA), who throughout the previous competitions has been dogmatically in favor of a single contract to Boeing. Dicks is #2 on the House Appropriations Committee, where any funding bill will have to originate. The chairman of the committee is US Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who came out solidly in favor of a split contract as the only way to break the logjam over an award.
Airbus may scrap the troubled A400M program, according to this London Telegraph report of a Der Spiegel interview with Airbus CEO Tom Enders.
Peugeot Citroen fired Christian Streiff, who designed the Power8 restructuing program for Airbus but then resigned after three months in a power struggle. Here is the report picked up by The New York Times.
Update, 4:00 PM March 30: Airbus discounted the London Telegraph/Der Spiegel report and says the company remains committed to building the A400M. Here is the Reuters report.
The picture about the future of the A400M is about as clear as this one.
Update, March 26, 2:20PM PDT: Bloomberg News moved this piece in which ILFC’s CEO says he’ll get the lessor out from under AIG’s “cloud.”
Mega-lessor International Lease Finance Corp. filed its 2009 10K annual report March 25 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In it, the company discussed possibilities that could create what’s called a “going concern” situation.
In accounting-speak, the reference is all about bankruptcy. If a company or its auditors raise questions about the ability to continue as a “going concern,” this means there is a possibility the company could seek protection in the US bankruptcy courts. This almost always is a Chapter 11 reorganization filing rather than a Chapter 7 liquidation action.
Boeing is gearing up for a new fight over the KC-X tanker competition but out of the blue, it took a direct hit on the Airborne Laser program, which uses the 747 as the platform.
A California Member of Congress, and a Democrat at that (Ds generally tend to favor Boeing over Republicans), called the ABL program “insanity.” Politico, which covers politics but not usually defense items, gave this piece prominate placement on its website.
Since the first of the year, Boeing has issued WARN (job layoff notices) for 1,113 union jobs belonging to the International Association of Machinists.
Job security was a major goal of the IAM in last year’s 57 day strike that began in September and cost Boeing billions of dollars. The IAM touted the final agreement, preserving 4,500 jobs, as a major victory.
The countdown is underway for the outstanding order of 10 Airbus A380s by mega-lessor International Lease Finance Corp.
ILFC was an early customer for the super-jumbo jet and suffered two year delays along with the other customers when Airbus’ industrial production issues arose for the giant aircraft. As part of the restructured contract for the order as a result of the delays, ILFC obtained the option to cancel the orders in 2010.