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.
Odds and Ends: E-190 v Superjet v BBD in Russia; China’s aviation; WestJet’s speed dating; Crandall speaks
E-190 v Superjet v Bombardier: With the finding that the pilot of the demo flight of the Sukhoi SSJ 100 Superjet simply flew into a mountain in Indonesia, rather than there being a problem with the airplane, the cloud has been lifted from the aircraft. So the direct match-up of the SSJ vs the Embraer E-190 can now be compared and this article does so. Bombardier’s CRJ-900 and CRJ-1000 also compete.
China’s Aviation: Airbus and Boeing think China pose the greatest threat in the future, but this analyst is less enthusiastic.
WestJet of Canada: The low cost carrier took a bold step to order up to 45 Bombardier Q400s to feed itself. Now it’s using speed dating to decide where to fly the airplanes.
Crandall speaks on AA-US merger: Former American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall weighs in on the merger between American Airlines and US Airways.
Top 10 Stories in 2012: Here’s a piece we did for CNN International on the Top 10 stories, David Letterman style, for 2012.
Airbus A400M: Airbus claims it’s ready to go. First deliveries slated for next summer.
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.
Tweets from Saturday’s CFM press conference:
CFM: 737 Max Leap-1B engine core has 10-stage 22:1 pressure ratio in the HPC. 1st 5 stages are blisks. Plans 5-stage LPT. #FIA12
Another shot from @CFM_engines: Each Leap-powered A320neo will have $3-$4M net present value advantage on 15yr term against A320neo w/PW1200
Here is a full story from The Wall Street Journal. Author Jon Ostrower also posted the following image on his Facebook account: