Oil doubles, it’s good for Airbus and Boeing

The price of oil has doubled off its low of only a few months ago, closing Friday (May 23) at around $61bbl. This is actually good news for Airbus and Boeing (and Bombardier and Embraer) as these companies struggle to protect their skyline (order backlog) over the balance of 2009 and in 2010.

Based on the forecasts that the airline industry will recover in 2010 and 2011, and on the hope that the financial markets will improve next year, Airbus and Boeing have been engaged in high-profile efforts to maintain production rates of the A320 and 737 lines in particular and the A330 and 777 lines as well.

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777 answer to A350

Flight International has a May 14 story we’ve just seen (we were out of town) about Boeing’s possible response to the Airbus A350-1000. This may be found here.

The most interesting thing to us is the timeline: within three-four years after Boeing gains clarity on the A350-1000, or perhaps by around 2018-19. Or, Boeing suggested, three or four years after the A350 EIS, currently forecast by Airbus as 2013 for the -900 model (the -1000 EIS is slated for 2015 and the -800 in 2014).

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787 program update

Boeing today (May 21) gave aerospace analysts an update on the 787 program at the annual investors’ day. Key points:

  • There are now more engineers working on the -9 than on the -8, a major change;
  • Executing the flight test program in 8 1/2 months will be a challenge;
  • Resources from across the Boeing enterprise will be required to meet the flight test timeline;
  • Certification with three regulatory agencies progressing well;
  • There will be “bumps in the road;”
  • The “sun never sets” on the 787 production system (a reference to the global industrial production system);
  • The -9 will speak to the “heart of the economic proposition” of this aircraft;
  • The key to the -9 is not to forget the lessons learned on the -8;
  • As the market conditions solidify, we’ll be moving into the -3 (some time after -9 EIS in 2013);
  • Firm configuration for the -9 later this year. Read more

Can split tanker buy save money?

Here is an interesting think piece about the controverisal proposal by some Members of Congress to split the KC-X tanker procurement between Boeing and Northrop Grumman.

Aviation Week reports the FAA has certified Boeing’s Wedgetail, the 737-based electronics airplane ordered by the Australian services. The program, which includes electronics from Northrop Grumman, is years behind schedule.

EADS surpasses Boeing

EADS, parent of Airbus, surpassed Boeing last year as the world’s largest aerospace company.

With revenues suppressed by the 57 day IAM strike, Boeing slipped to number 2 in a study of 67 companies by Deloitte.

If the name Deloitte sounds familiar, it should. Deloitte Consulting did the recent study that panned Washington State’s aerospace competitiveness, a key component in whether Boeing stays or goes in Washington. Another Deloitte firm is Boeing’s auditor. The consulting-auditor relationship led labor unions to charge the competitiveness study was tainted.

We wonder how the unions will explain away this study.

Nominated for Aerospace Journalist of the Year-2009 Awards

We were notified that we have been nominated for a Journalist of the Year Award for a 2008 piece we did for Aviation and the Environment magazine. The piece, Suddenly it’s very crowded out there, is about the proliferation of regional airliners.

The awards dinner will be Sunday before the Paris Air Show begins. There are 14 categories (our nomination was in Regional Aircraft). The full nomination list may be found here.

Among those nominated are journalists we know well: Jon Ostrower for his Flightblogger (three nominations); Geoff Thomas at Air Transport World; Aimee Turner, then of Flight International (now of Aviation Week); Jason Holland of Aviation and the Environment; Niall O’Keeffe of Airline Business/Flight International (two nominations); Mark Kirby of Airline Business; Guy Norris of Aviation Week (two nominations); and many others we don’t know.

A320 v 737

We’re back from two days at Airbus for its Innovation Days presentations, and the timing couldn’t have worked out better. Less than two weeks before we attended Boeing’s 737 enhancements day, followed by the 787 update day.

Both Airbus and Boeing events were highly informative. The 737 day announced things that we wrote about in December for Aviation and the Environment: an entirely new interior, based on 787 features; making standard Required Navigation Procedures (RNP) in the cockpit—80% of customers were already adding this as an option—and aerodynamic improvements that are intended to decrease drag and fuel consumption by 1%. Also announced was the next step in engine tweaks by CFM for the CFM 56-7B. This is project to provide for a 1% improvement in fuel burn.

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Enders on “internationalization”

Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus, vowed to continue “internationalization” of its production while protecting intellectual property rights and avoiding Boeing’s mistakes with the 787 program.

Speaking to a small group of the 90 journalists attending the Airbus Innovation Days in Hamburg, Enders told us that the international plan is “strategic” and that Airbus “will do this in a responsible way.”

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Airbus sees recovery in 2010

Airbus officials see a recovery in the global economy and passenger traffic next year, they said this week at the Airbus Innovation Days in Hamburg.
We were among about 90 journalists to attend the event, formerly known as the Technical Briefing and held in Toulouse.

There was little new technically to talk about-after all, what else is there to say about the A380, A350 and A400M programs that isn’t well known? (Just a few things, which we’ll get to later.) So the news really came from non-technical items.

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Eco-Aviation Conference May 26

Air Transport World and Leeham Co. have organized the second USA Eco-Aviation Conference in Washington DC. More information may be found here.