CSeries second flight: It was two weeks and one day to the second flight of the Bombardier CSeries, quite a bit longer than the Boeing 787-9 and the Airbus A350. The lengthier time was subject to a fair amount of scrutiny by some observers.
We’re told that Flight Test Vehicle 1 was under-going software upgrades. The fly-by-wire aircraft had taken aloft in direct law flight mode. Some of the delay to first flight had to do with software upgrades.
Long-time readers will remember that we’ve had the opportunity to take a couple of trips on the Trident submarines Alabama and Maryland. Our interest in submarines remains keen. So when we came across an article about the plans for the successor to the Ohio class SSBN, we decided to include it today. The features talk about fly-by-wire control, video monitoring instead of the periscope and a host of other whiz-bang modern technology.
Airbus Military handed over the first A400M to France. If we thought the development period of commercial airliners is tough these days, the A400M may set new standards for a military program: 30 years, according to Reuters. With the plans to end Boeing’s C-17 production in 2015, we hear Boeing is developing a smaller cargo/troop transport that will compete with the A400M and be a replacement for the smaller Lockheed Martin C-130.
The name change simply reflects reality: Airbus is the dominate member of the company. It also does away with the acronym, which many people mispronounced as “eeeds” rather than how it was supposed to be said (E-A-D-S, like I-B-M) that reflects an awkward name, European Aeronautic Defense and Space, a name so awkward it doesn’t readily appear on the EADS website.
A name change has really been thought about for years. On one trip to Toulouse, in 2009, we had a discussion then with Airbus personnel and the topic came up. We favored the Airbus name for the enterprise then–not that our opinion had anything to do with the action four years later :-).
More significant is the continued direction by CEO Tom Enders to move away from the government influence that first was instrumental in the growth of the enterprise but then became an albatross with jobs and prestige programs trumping business decisions (think A400M engine, the A380 [the product of 747 envy] and assembly locations). The volatile topic of government subsidies, necessary in the beginning and conceptually little different than the early days of US defense and commercial aviation, evolved into “reimbursable launch aid” that is unnecessary for a company like Airbus and which remains a target of international controversy when politics arise.
We welcome the change and the continued evolution of Airbus into a true commercial enterprise. Tom Enders will leave a legacy that will make him one of the most significant figures in global aerospace.
Air France 447: More data has surfaces on Air France 447, the Airbus A330 that plunged into the Atlantic on a flight from Brazil to France several years ago. In a cooperative post-investigation that included Airbus and Boeing, efforts to replicate the crash in a simulator failed.
Racing Toward 2,000: At ISTAT, Airbus COO Customers John Leahy said he expected to gain another 200 orders this month for the A320 family, reaching 2,000 orders for the neo in the process. Lufthansa and Turkish have since announced orders.
Beating back anti-droners: Boeing and supporters killed legislation in Washington State that would have outlawed drones. Boeing’s subsidiary Insitu is headquartered in Washington and considered leaving to Oregon, across the Columbia River. A coalition is also working to have Moses Lake (WA) selected as a drone testing site under an FAA program.
C919–orders, no deposits: How firm are the 380 “orders” for the COMAC C919? Good question. According to a Chinese media report via this Western news story, there are no deposits for the “orders.”
Washington State’s Signal to Boeing: Gov. Christine Gregoire, in her final budget (see leaves office next month), put $25m in for aerospace training and STEM education. The Puget Sound Business Journal explains the significance of this.
Update (already): Seems Mobile (AL) is put out we didn’t include the Airbus announcement of a production plant there in our Top 10. Over at CNN, a reader commented that the Delta Air Lines purchase of an oil refinery was worthy. Feel free to add your comments about what should have (or should not have) been included in this list.
Why Aircraft Are Late: Boeing 747-8, 787, Airbus A380, A400M, A350, Mitsubishi MRJ, Comac ARJ-21, Sukhoi Superjet and probably Comac C919, Bombardier CSeries and Irkut MS-21–all late. It’s the new normal. Ernie Arvai at AirInsight takes a look at why.
Catching Boeing: Airbus may well have trailed Boeing through the Farnborough Air Show in terms of orders, but it may also be on the way toward catching up. The big PAL order for 54 aircraft was announced this week. A 100-airplane order out of China is due to be announced shortly. Another 100 airplane order from AirAsia appears to be pending. Year-to-date, Boeing has 701 net orders and Airbus has 270 net orders. These three orders still leaves Airbus well short of Boeing, and Boeing has more 737 MAX commitments to convert this year. We expect Boeing to finish the year in first place. It will be interesting to see how close Airbus can come.
NEO firm order wrap: Aviation Week has this detailed recap of NEO firm orders. We expect some of the A320neos to be converted to A321neos as time goes on, just as we expect 737-8 MAX orders to be swapped with 737-9 MAX positions.
Kansas: Gov. Sam Brownback unveiled incentives today (Jan. 9) for Bombardier to bring jobs to Wichita, which politicians will view as very positive in the wake of Boeing’s decision to close its defense operations there. Considering Brownback’s stance on Boeing and the air force tanker competition, he continues to diversify Kansas from just Boeing. Wichita is the self-proclaimed “Air Capital of the World,” with presence from Bombardier, Hawker Beechcraft and Airbus. Boeing, of course, was the anchor, having been in Kansas 80 years.
More on tankers: Flightglobal has an interesting piece that 10 years ago, Embraer was prepared to join Airbus Military in the development of the A400M.
Update: Javier has answered (or responded to, depending on your viewpoint) many of our reader comments here.
A blog of which we were previously unaware came to our attention late last week that has the best, most comprehensive analysis of the 787 financial picture that we have seen anywhere by anyone.
This post is very long. Called “The Blog By Javier,” it is written by Javier Irastorza. He works for Airbus Military on the A400M program, which will automatically make his analysis suspect in some quarters. But we were darned impressed by this analysis.
Robert Wall has this short article that raises an interesting point. Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus, “bemoans” the slow pace of change in aviation. He is quoted as saying that the aviation industry has forgotten how to “take risks and manage” them properly.
There’s a lot to be said for that. Airbus had its own issues with the A380 production management and the A400M program design. It remains to be seen how challenging the A350 production becomes, but there is ample evidence that the challenges are just beginning.
Bombarier says its CSeries program is on time but margins are largely gone.
The first was the financial reporting for EADS today. Although EADS reported a small loss on foreign exchange and financing costs, the company increased its cash position. This came under criticism in Germany for the bailout of the A400M program.