No 777X before 2020: Bernstein Research, in a note issued today, says it doesn’t see delivery of the Boeing 777X before 2020. Also: on a recently completed trip to Asia, Bernstein wrote this:
There’s clearly huge demand for the 787. There was a lot of excitement about it, but Boeing was heavily promoting the 747-8, for which the company is certainly seeking more orders, with few orders for the passenger version and the air freight market being very weak. To date, the majority of orders for that airplane have been freighter orders. This is a relatively small program, but we think it is the most difficult within Boeing’s portfolio right now. …[Y]ou’re probably not going to see the growth that Boeing had once hoped for there. That’s certainly how we have been making assumptions, as well.
Alaska, Frontier and Competition: The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has this analysis about Alaska and Frontier airlines, which aside from being a little geographically-challenged, is one of CAPA’s usual well-researched and thought-0ut looks at airlines. (In fairness, CAPA often strays from the Asia-Pacific, but we couldn’t resist the quip.) CAPA now actually calls itself Centre for Aviation.
A380 Repair Costs: Aviation Week has this article detailing the costs to Emirates Airlines for repairs to the Airbus A380 wing bracket cracks.
Cargolux, Qatar Airways to split: Several news stories report that Qatar Airways is going to dump its 35% stake in Cargolux. The stories indicate a disagreement in the direction of Cargolux. This story is the most detailed, although it’s now a month old and out-of-date.
The day before the news broke last week, we were told that Qatar wanted to set up a Cargolux hub in Doha and decline more deliveries of Boeing 747-8Fs to Cargolux in favor of using Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777Fs. This tracks similarly with the month-old story linked above. Cargolux has eight 748Fs on order.
There is a general softness in global air cargo traffic that is causing some cargo airlines to consider deferring 748Fs as well, complicating Cargolux’s viability.
We were also told there are sharp personality differences between the Qatar and Cargolux board members that aggravated relations between the two companies.
P-8A and MAX: Bloomberg has this story that looks at an angle about the Boeing 737 MAX that hasn’t been discussed before: Boeing will stick with the NG-based P-8A Poseidon and not shift to the MAX.
Sequestration: We had a recent think piece on how sequestration might not be a bad thing in the long run because it would force the Pentagon to truly re-think its global defense strategy. This piece in Defense News, an authoritative trade publication, picks up a similar theme.
Dodging that depth charge: EADS wanted to merge with BAE Systems. BAE is the prime contractor of the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet. Read this story about the HMS Astute. EADS may well have dodged that bullet–er, depth charge.
The CEO of Republic Airways Holdings seems to be vying to be America’s version of U-Turn Al, Akbar Al-Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways.
Bedford appears to be engaged in a campaign to raise questions about the Bombardier CSeries, for which he has orders and options for 80 CS300s, much the same way U-Turn Al alternatively praises then complains about the Airbus A350, Boeing 747-8F (ordered by Cargolux, in which Qatar owns a third) and the Boeing 787. U-Turn Al has also alternative praised, condemned then praised the Airbus A320neo, Bombardier CSeries and the Pratt & Whitney GTF.
Keeping up with U-Turn Al’s about-faces has been a dizzying prospect.
Bedford praised the CSeries when ordering it but has become increasingly skeptical of the program once he ordered the A319neo (with CFM LEAP engines) in what was a financial bailout of his ailing company being dragged down by Frontier Airlines. The Airbus order raised questions whether Bedford would cancel the CSeries since the A319neo competes with the CS300. Bedford initially said the order would stand. More recently, he appears to be doing everything to cast a shadow over the program.
For those who don’t believe there was a connection between the Cargolux-Boeing-GE dispute and the 787 and Qatar, watch the Dubai Air Show. We’re hearing Qatar will sign announce it has selected GEnx for the 787.
Speaking of Max, Boeing didn’t say much about the 737 MAX on the earnings call. In fact, Jim McNerney was downright ambiguous. Boeing is still considering where to build the airplane and it’s still talking to customers. Boeing said in August at MAX’s unveiling that design details would be forthcoming the following month. November is around the corner and we’re still waiting.
Boeing’s union nemesis, IAM 751, is already reaching out to membership about “wants” for contract negotiations next year. Overhanging negotiations will be the NLRB complaint–testimony is supposed to begin next month–and the MAX assembly site. Our prediction: this will be purely a testosterone contest. We have dour predictions at this point.
Airbus and the A350: assembly is supposed to begin by year end with first flight next year. We’ll see.
There is a sense of relief that Boeing finally delivered the first 787 this week, after a 3 1/2 year delay and the most painful gestation period in Boeing Commercial Airplane history.
In addition to the actual rain storm on Monday that could not dampen the spirits of the moment, there were many others who nonetheless tried to rain on Boeing’s parade. They pointed out, correctly, that challenges remain for the ramp up in production and Boeing spent billions of dollars on the troubled program.
These and other points are legitimate issues. We chose to let Boeing have its moment in the sun (figuratively speaking, anyway, considering the lousy weather Monday).
The underlying cause for the Cargolux rejection (the airline’s word) of the delivery of the first two Boeing 747-8Fs is performance.
Performance is based, generally, on two things: weight of the airplane and specific fuel consumption (SFC). If the airplane is too heavy, it may not meet the payload and/or range guarantees. If SFC is below specifications, range/payload may be affected. If you combine the two issues, a larger problem exists.
It’s been well known for more than a year that the 747-8 was “heavy” and the GEnx engines burned too much fuel. Despite the two year delay, GE hasn’t developed a performance improvement package (PIP) for the 747-8 that will be ready before the end of 2013, according to sources familiar with the situation. GE’s priority has been the 787 program.
We asked Boeing about the weight and SFC issues. Here is its response:
The embarrassing last minute refusal by Cargolux air cargo to accept delivery of the first Boeing 747-8F that was planned in elaborate ceremonies 19 September is due to more than it appears on the surface, say several sources at the ISTAT European conference that got underway Sunday night (18 September) in Barcelona.
No source would be identified due to the sensitive nature of the situation and the underlying issues triggering the refusal—an overweight airplane and one that doesn’t meet promised fuel burn specifications—are real and potentially affecting future customer deliveries. But sources are universal in concluding that a new element in the Cargolux situation emerged last week to trigger the refusal.
We’re in Barcelona, Spain, for the ISTAT conference, and one of the hot topics at the Sunday night reception is the refusal by Cargolux to take delivery of the first and second 747-8Fs gthat were scheduled for Monday and Wednesday this week.
The companies cited only “contractual issues” that have to be worked out.
We have obtained enough information at the opening night reception to have confidence there is much more at work here than meets the eye. One reader hypothesized that Qatar Airways, which now owns 35% of Cargolux, has a role.
Our information here is that this is indeed the case.
We expect to have a posting on this Monday.
But we are confident there isn’t some new, previously undisclosed issue about the 747-8F’s performance shortfalls that have been well known to Boeing and customers for well over a year.
We had boarded our flight to ISTAT Barcelona and were still at the gate in Seattle when news erupted that the first delivery of the 747-8F to Cargolux is off. AirInsight has a commentary on this. We expect to pick up some intel on the issue, perhaps as early as the Sunday night reception but otherwise Monday or Tuesday. Watch our reporting from Barcelona.
As Boeing prepares for delivery ceremonies for the 747-8F to Cargolux Airlines September 19—an event we will miss because of travel in Europe to the ISTAT conference—The Boeing Co., its employees, suppliers, and the airline personnel are justifiably excited.
Not only does this represent the hand-over after a two year delay in a difficult program, it represents the largest airliner Boeing has ever built, the latest and most advanced version of the venerable 747 but it also represents what is almost certainly the last 747 model that will ever be built.
As cool and as whiz-bang as the 747-8 is (though obviously, Lufthansa’s 747-8I will have more panache than a freighter), our thoughts go in a different direction.