Odds and Ends: Air France v Rolls-Royce for A350; Virgin America rejigs; Last A340s sold; Heading South with SPEEA
Air France v Rollsr-Royce: The saga continues-see this Bloomberg story. We understand there is more to it than just maintenance. Rolls wants AF to order the Trent 1000 for the 787 order, too.
Virgin America: This airline, headquartered in San Francisco, has been an airline in search of a business plan. Its operations don’t have a niche and didn’t fill a void (like jetBlue created and filled at NY-JFK). It’s lost hundreds of millions of dollars. And, finally, the losses have caught up. Bloomberg has this story about aircraft order deferrals and cancellations. The deferrals are Airbus A320neos (note to Alabama: VA was going to take the first neos from the new Airbus Mobile plant in 2016).
Virgin is seeking to restructure aircraft leases, according to two industry sources. Failing to do so could lead to a Chapter 11 filing, the sources say.
Last A340s Sold: The remaining two Airbus A340-500s, originally destined for ailing Kingfisher Airlines, have been sold.
SPEEA and Boeing: Things appear to be heading south with SPEEA. This could affect Boeing’s year-end push to deliver as many as 50 787s as well as the other 7-Series.
Taking airplanes in on trade: Much is being made of Boeing taking five Airbus A340-600s in on trade to secure an order for 20 777-300ERs from China Eastern. While trade-ins are not common, neither are they unknown. Boeing has done this before, including what was then a particularly controversial deal: taking brand-new A340s off the hands of Singapore Airlines even before they had been delivered as part of a 777 deal. Those A340-300s went straight to Boeing from Airbus, much to the consternation of John Leahy at the time.
The OEMs don’t like to take airplanes in on trade; after all, they are in the business of selling new airplanes, not used ones, but Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier all have active used airplane units to remarket aircraft they have in their own portfolios–usually originating from their customer financing.
Bombardier wins Q400 deal: WestJet of Canada will order 20 Q400s and option 25 more in what was a hotly contested deal between ATR and Bombardier. Although many believe this was a slam-dunk for Bombardier, the competition was intense; WestJet sent the parties back to re-price the deal late in the game.
This order gives BBD 28 firm and 45 options for the Q400 so far this year, compared with a mere seven in 2011.
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming! Boeing imports Russian engineers to work in the Seattle area, much to the consternation of SPEAA, Boeing’s engineer’s union. Now the practice has caught the attention of a US Senator.
Outsourcing is a sore point for Boeing’s unions. While Boeing says it does so to reduce costs and to offset work in exchange for sales, there is a larger issue: the US simply doesn’t produce enough engineers to meet demand, and 50% of Boeing’s engineers reach retirement age in the next five years or so. We don’t like Boeing using Russian or Chinese help to produce airplanes–after all, these two countries are developing competitors to Boeing aircraft and it strikes us as pretty silly to help your competitor (why not hire French or German engineers, for Pete’s sake?). But the USA’s failure to place a high priority on developing engineers is a national disgrace and Boeing has to find the help where it can get it.
There has been an active discussion in the comment section on the “Rate 35” post and the relative merits of appraisals and appraisers with respect to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737NG.
We’ve been involved in the airline business since 1979 and from 1990, when we co-owned Commercial Aviation Report (CAR), have followed the appraisal business. Given the discussion in “comments,” we think a dedicated post is worthwhile.
CAR created the industry’s first commercial appraisal conference in 1990. ISTAT–the International Society of Transport Aircraft Traders–at that time was still largely a small, professional organization, far difference than what it is today.
CAR’s first conference brought together nearly every appraisal company then in existence in the US to compare and discuss appraisals of what was called Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificates (EETCs) and appraisals published by the firms.
Another in the continuing reports from the Airbus Innovation Days….
Airbus provided an A330/A340 market update during its Innovation Days presentations in Hamburg earlier in May.
The A340 has become irrelevant to the new airplane market, with only a handful of new orders remaining and virtually none forthcoming in the last several years. Airbus is tweaking the A340 with some aerodymic improvements designed to reduce fuel burn by 1%. Along with maintenance procedure changes to the A330, the A340 increases the interval on the A Check to 800 flight hours from the current 600; C Check intervals go from 18 months to 21-24 months; Intermediate Checks increased from five years at EIS to the current six years and remains unchanged; and Structural Checks increase from 10 years to 12 years.
We resisted asking whether the A340′s Product Improvement Package includes a large Parking Brake sign in the cockpit.
Update, January 10:
Bloomberg News reports EADS says it will be three years after the A400M’s first test flight–which remains unscheduled–before Airbus will ship the airplane to customers. This is hardly good news.
Commercial Aviation enters 2009 with a high level of uncertainty. Boeing’s headlining 787 program and the lower profile but increasingly costly 747-8 development face critical milestones this year. Airbus’ A350 does, too. The global financial market meltdown last year hopes for recovery this year but the global economy is questionable.
These are just a few of the issues facing Airbus and Boeing this year.
Boeing continues to dominate the headlines with its troubled 787 program, so we’ll look at the US aerospace company first.
Year for Recovery
This has the makings for being a year of recovery in new airplane programs. No new joint BCA-IDS program is without significant issues and two of BCA’s three new airplane projects have significant delays.
The 787 program needs little review here; its issues are well known. The question is when the first flight and flight testing will begin.
Boeing says the first flight will be in the second quarter; Air Transport World first reported that April 20 is now the schedule for first flight and Flightblogger followed with its own reporting on a timeline leading to this date. Our own checks suggest that a new development and testing timeline for the critical software systems is aimed for a sooner-than-later second quarter first flight (the old timeline suggested a June-August timeline for first flight). Our checks also report, however, that April 20 is thought to be aggressive and our sources are unsure this date can be met.
What is important to emphasize here is that this date is an internal timeline and Boeing is only saying first flight will be in the second quarter. This means it could take place on June 30 and still meet the publicly stated goal.
At long last, we expect that the first flight and the flight testing will get underway this year. These are obviously critical milestones in the recovery of the 787 program and Boeing’s operations.
Delta Air Lines may cancel the 787 ordered by Northwest Airlines now that NWA is a subsidiary of Delta. NWA ordered 18, but Delta’s CEO Richard Anderson is unhappy with the delays and performance issues (the 787 is overweight and has a shorter range than originally advertised, though the extent of the latter is in dispute). Anderson likes the 777LR and it’s possible there could be a deal for more 777LRs to replace the 787-8s ordered by NWA.
A cancellation will be nothing but a minor embarrassment for Boeing—with 900 orders, losing 18 won’t matter much and it’s possible others will come forward to grab these in any event. Read more…