Last year yielded a few surprises in an otherwise predictable year.
Jim Albaugh shocked the aviation world when he retired unexpectedly at age 62. He was expected to remain in his position as CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes until mandatory retirement at 65.
EADS CEO Tom Enders unleashed a surprise merger proposal with BAE Systems. The deal didn’t work due to German government opposition, but he ultimately accomplished a governance restructuring—a key objective of the merger—that will reduce government meddling in the future.
Those were about it. Boeing’s much-anticipated Authority to Offer the 777X didn’t happen. ATO for the 787-10 was stealthily granted. Airbus and Bombardier, to no surprise, delayed the A350 and CSeries by a few months. Boeing came roaring back to become sales leader for the first time in about a decade, on the strength of 737 MAX sales.
What’s ahead for 2013? Here’s what we see.
With the spurt of 737 MAX sales over, narrow-body sales competition between Airbus and Boeing should return to normalcy. Will twin-aisle sales become the next growth market because of the first flight of the A350 and the program launch of the 7870-10? Will ATO of the 777X evolve into a program launch as well? Will Bombardier’s first flight of the CSeries and subsequent testing validate its claims for the new technology airplane and finally spur a large number of sales of the “show me” crowd?
Here’s our OEM-by-OEM rundown.
Few little activity today.
Airbus: CIT Aerospace, 10 A330 (five previously undisclosed); China Aircraft Leasing, 28 A320ceo, 8 A321ceo–MOU.
Boeing: Avolon (lessors), commitment for 20 737 MAX 8/9 and 10 737-800s. The MAXes are part of the previously announced 1,000 Orders and Commitments, so this portion is not new, but rather a public disclosure.
ATR: Nordic Aviation, one ATR 42-600; Air Lease Corp., two ATR 72-600s; LAO Airlines, two ATR 72-600s, TransAsia, six ATR 76-600s.
Mitsubishi: SkyWest Airlines, LOI for 100 MRJs
CFM: Juneyao Airlines (China), CFM56 for five A321s; Aviation Capital Group, LEAP-1A for 18 A320neo family.
Pratt & Whitney: Finalize previously announced engine selection for GTF for 40 A320neo.
Airbus in Mobile: We doubt Boeing is really Sleepless in Seattle but this piece is pretty amusing.
Take that, Part 1: Boeing continues to whine about WTO.
Take that, Part 2: So’s your Old Man.
Here are a few final thoughts in advance of the Farnborough Air Show:
- It will still be Boeing’s show, with MAX orders or MOUs or Commitments or Love Letters amounting to the hundreds. Look for Air Lease Corp, GECAS, Aeromexico, perhaps some Chinese companies and others to announce.
- Airbus’ John Leahy has been tamping down expectations all year but Mr. Showman doesn’t like to be left standing on the sidelines. While you’re watching Boeing’s left hand, don’t be surprised if Leahy pulls a rabbit out of the hat with Airbus’ right hand and ends the show with several hundred orders of his own.
- Yes, we predict the Airbus-Boeing sniping will continue. And the sun will rise in the East and set in the West.
- Embraer isn’t even holding a press briefing. So we don’t expect much out of them this year.
- Bombardier may or may not have CSeries orders to announce. The market doesn’t expect (m)any, concluding that the countdown to first flight is what will begin bringing in orders.
- No new program announcements from Boeing (ie, nothing new on 787-10 or 777X). No announcement from Airbus, either, on A350 program developments or the prospect of a long-range, upgraded A330-300 (we think this could come at FAS but just as likely could be later in the year).
- No 90-seat turbo-prop from anyone.
- This is now Ray Conner’s coming out party as the new (and unexpected) CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Based on our limited contact with Conner, he’s not as affable as the departed Jim Albaugh. It will be interesting to see how aggressively engaging he is with Boeing’s nemesis, Leahy.
This is really expected to be a boring show from the perspective of orders. Airbus has been downplaying expectations following last year’s Paris Air Show blow-out of more than 1,200 A320neo orders. How can you match that? The answer is, Airbus can’t.
Boeing will certainly firm up hundreds of 737 MAX commitments, so this will be Boeing’s show. And there is the buzz that Boeing is partnering with Lockheed Martin and NASA (oh, another government subsidy?) to produce a 2,500 mph SST, with details supposed to come at the Air Show. Then there is the leak that the 787 will fly there, the first time in 28 years Boeing has an aerial flying display.
We’ve talked with several journalists and industry personnel who are skipping the Air Show this year. So are we, and we’ve been at the Farnborough and Paris air shows since 2008. We just don’t expect enough news this year that we can’t get from the press releases.
So here are our expectations for the show:
A320 v 737 Debate: This continues over at AeroTurboPower, where an analysis of fuel burn cost per seat has been undertaken.
Embraer reiterates futures plans: No plane in the 130-160 market segment. EMB will continue to concentrate on its 70-125 seat market.
ATR 1000: This is a very clever video by ATR celebrating its 1000th ATR turbo-prop.