Corporate Site update/wk May 21

Our Corporate website has been updated.

We have an interview with John Leahy, the COO of Airbus, from May 20 and a recap of Wednesday’s investors’ conference with Boeing. We also have some new stuff on the tanker that’s part of the Leahy PDF file.

Japan’s KC-767 hits turbulence

ASDF’s in-flight refueling plane damaged during checkup at base
NAGOYA, May 21 KYODO
An in-flight refueling airplane sustained damage and was unable to fly in early March during a checkup shortly after it was deployed in late February as Japan’s first plane of its kind at an Air Self-Defense Force base in Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, base officials said Wednesday.
The engine covers on both wings of the KC-767 tanker were damaged March 5 as leading edge flaps on the wings suddenly lowered when a worker was checking the plane in a hangar at the base.
An ASDF member who was in the cockpit said the slats lowered after the electrical system for the slats suddenly came on when the officer was replacing an electric bulb for the hydraulic pump switch, they said.
The base suspects there was some operation error behind the incident.
Two KC-767s, jets developed based on the Boeing 767, have been deployed at the base and were involved in test flights. They are scheduled to be put into full operation in late fiscal 2009, which ends in March 2010.
In-flight refueling planes help to extend the flight range of fighters.
==Kyodo

May 21, 2008 12:19:15

You read it here first: 767 production boost

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports today that Boeing plans to double production on the 767 line to accommodate airlines affected by the delays in the 787 program. We reported this back on April 15.

The P-I reports production will double to two a month sometime next year. We reported that the boost would come in 2010 and could be a doubling to 24 a year or even somewhat higher, to 27-30 a year.

We’ve also reported that lessor Aircastle may swap some Airbus A330-200F positions for A330 passenger slots to take advantage of 787 delays. We can now report that lessors Intrepid Aviation and Guggenheim are also thinking of swapping out early A330F slots for A330P positions, adding to their orders for A330s instead of a pure swap. Additional freighter orders would be placed with early positions being switched to the passenger model.

We’ll have more details in an update of our Corporate Website later today, delayed so we can include information from Boeing’s investors day conference this morning.

Sen. Murray faces off with SecDef Gates

US Sen. Patty Murray (D-Boeing) faced off with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates over the USAF contract award of the KC-45A to Northrop Grumman. Northwest Cable News of Seattle has this good report, along with video.

Update, 9PM PDT Tuesday: Here’s another take on the same story from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Corporate website update wk/May 20

We’ll delay the update of our Corporate Website one day this week to May 21. Boeing’s investors’ day conference is Wednesday and we want to include reports from this in our bi-weekly update. Look for the Corporate Website update late Wednesday.

Boeing abandons current 737RS effort: report

Guy Norris, one of the best aerospace reporters in the world, reports in the current issue of Aviation Week that Boeing has given up on its current round of efforts to design a successor to the 737.

According to Norris and co-author Robert Wall, Boeing is going back to the drawing board because technology is not there yet for a replacement.

The full story may be found here. It’s a great read.

EADS’ ex-lobbyist quits McCain campaign

It generated a lot of headlines at the time of the USAF aerial tanker contract award to Northrop Grumman when it was revealed that a campaign adviser to Republican presidential candidate US Sen. John McCain one time had EADS as a client.

EADS, of course, is partnered with Northrop to offer the KC-30 tanker to the USAF. EADS is parent of Boeing’s arch-enemy, Airbus, and the KC-30 is based on the commercial A330-200 which essentially put Boeing’s 767 commercial airliner out of business. Boeing’s KC-767 is based on the commercial 767-200, with parts from the 767-300 and 767-400.

After Boeing lost the tanker award, critics of the decision blamed McCain for the loss, a position we find preposterous, but that’s neither here nor there. When it was discovered that a top McCain adviser was once a lobbyist for EADS, the conspiracy theorists really went to town.

We thought that the entire round of accusations was poppycock, and still do. (Disclosure: although we’re defending McCain on this one, we have no connection to his campaign and aren’t even for him; we liked Ron Paul in the primary and Barack Obama in the general.)

But with the McCain campaign adopting its own rules on ethics, conflicts of interest and lobbyists, the former EADS lobbyist quit the campaign.

A wire service story on the action may be found here.

Boeing loses another defense contract

Make it four. That’s the number of defense contracts Boeing has lost this year. This AP story outlines them.

Maybe it’s just coincidence, but Boeing certainly hasn’t done very well since protesting the first loss, that of the KC-45A tanker program. Maybe there’s no retaliation going on with the Pentagon. Maybe we’re just being cynical. But we can’t help wondering if there’s a connection.

Government R&D for A350 wing

The Financial Times reported today (May 15) that the UK government will help fund the research and development for the composite wing for the Airbus A350.

An excerpt:

Aerospace groups are joining forces with the government and regional development agencies to fund research and development aimed at strengthening the UK’s leading position in the manufacture of wings for commercial jets.

They are planning to invest £103m ($200m) in a three-year programme to develop and manufacture wings out of carbon-fibre composites, rather than aluminium. The R&D programme will be led by Airbus, the European aircraft maker, which has its wing design and manufacturing operations in the UK at sites near Bristol and in north Wales.

The full story may be found here, but it’s Subscription Required.

Our immediate thought, of course, was about that old bugaboo, government “subsidies” and the entire WTO/EU/USTR/Boeing/Airbus/USAF tanker series of fights.

This will only add fuel to the fire of the complainers over Airbus “subsidies.”

The Airbus response, of course, will be that Boeing gets plenty of R&D and “subsidy” support from NASA and the US Department of Defense.

Embraer ponders new turbo-prop

In a sign of just how bad things are getting with fuel prices, Embraer is evaluating whether to launch a new 50-seat turbo-prop by 2015. This would challenge the derivatives offered by Bombardier on the Q400 and ATR’s new revamped series.

The AirInsight team of Addison Schonland and Scott Hamilton talk with Flight International’s Mary Kirby in this 13 minute podcast. (Subscription required.) We also discuss the P&W GTF and UDF potential.