We were on a United Airlines flight recently–a Boeing 737-900ER, so it was legacy Continental Airlines. It was equipped with the Boeing Sky Interior, and this was the first time we’d seen the interior outside of a mock-up. It was as nice as we’ve often said.
On board was a mother and her lap-child (which is a bad idea, but that’s another topic). We are always fascinated to watch a newborn-to-about-two years old discover the world. This little tyke was taking in the Sky Interior and the blue mood lighting and thought it was pretty cool. So did we.
The Captain, as one often does, announced we would be descending shortly and we would be arriving at the C Concourse, “C as in Continental.” It was obvious which legacy airline making up today’s United he was from.
On approach to O’Hare, we wound up doing a full go-around. By this we mean engine throttles way up, nose attitude way up and a sharp left hand turn. First time in all the decades of flying we’ve had one of these. Speaks well of air safety. All the pilot said was he was directed to do so by the controller because there was an airplane in front of us.
On the next leg, we were on a Bombardier CRJ-200, or what we call a Tinker Toy airplane. Before push back, the pilot asked for two volunteers to move from the front to the back for weight-and-balance. Seems the airplane is designed for a full load and 2,500 lbs of cargo and we only had 1,500 lbs, so two people needed to move to the back to offset the thousand pounds. Several comments to those two passengers about their weight as they moved down the aisle.
787-10/777X: Aspire Aviation has this long analysis of the current status of these developmental programs.
737NG Engine Issues: Aviation Week on February 8 had a report of thrust irregularities on the Boeing 737NG. The Seattle Times reported it on line last night and in print today. And then the Seattle media went mad. We’re perplexed. The issue goes back five years, it happened 32 times and not since December when a fix appears to have–fixed it. What’s the big deal?
American-US Airways: The long-awaited merger was announced today and to our great relief, the US Airways management will run the place. American CEO Tom Horton is booted upstairs to non-executive chairman, much as was Glenn Tilton in the United-Continental combination. Unfortunately the AA-US merger keeps the awful tail livery rolled out by Horton a few weeks ago.
There appears to be a lot of focus on delays in delivering the next Boeing 787s to United Airlines–which has received one–but neither Boeing or United is saying what’s behind the delays. (Update, Dec. 1: one of the three was delivered yesterday.)
According to the Ascend data base, line numbers 45, 50 and 52 are supposed to be delivered this year and 55 and 77 are supposed to be delivered in January. All are with GEnx engines.
Here are some possible reasons for the delay:
- Rework is the obvious one. The first “clean” airplane to come off the Boeing assembly line in Everett was around line #66. The lower the line number, the more rework. UAL’s line numbers are higher, but rework is still necessary.
- GEnx engines. The failures on the 787 and 747-8 GEnx engines were unrelated and, as these things go, not especially severe, but fixing them is, we are told, complex for engines already assembled. Qatar refused delivery of its first 787 because of the GEnx issue. Contractually delivery has been accepted but the airline also wanted additional IFE (inflight entertainment equipment) installed and physically hasn’t accepted delivery. So…
- IFE upgrades: These UAL 787s were ordered by Continental Airlines prior to the merger and it’s been reported in the press that the delays in Boeing’s delivery left UA/CO will older, less sophisticated Buyer Furnished Equipment (the IFE). Maybe UAL wants more current IFE?
We were asked by media if this is another blow to the 787 program. We don’t think so. At this point, we haven’t heard of anything about the reason for the delay and pretty well shrugged it off anyway.
Meanwhile, Airbus is in talks with at least some of its A380 customers seeking compensation for the operational interruptions resulting from required inspections related to wing rub brace cracking. Compensation could amount to millions of Euros per customer.
We’ve been watching with dismay the downward spiral of American Airlines.
This once-great carrier is hardly recognizable any more. It is perplexing to us how a management team that got its training under Robert Crandall and helped create such a great carrier could have gone so wrong.
Crandall retired in 1998 and was succeeded by Don Carty. We have to admit we preferred that Bob Baker, the EVP of Operations, succeed Crandall but Baker already had battled cancer and was viewed as probably on a shorter life span given the nature of his cancer. Unfortunately, this assessment was correct and Baker died a few years later.
Carty, on the other hand, was Crandall’s number two (to Baker’s number three) in the company. But Carty had also been CEO of Canadian Airlines and frankly, we were never too impressed with his leadership there. It was this that gave us trepidation when he succeeded Crandall.
The Crandall team also included Gerard Arpey, who subsequently succeeded Carty after Carty so screwed up labor relations that he had to go. Carty acquired Reno Air, a small MD-80 operator with a hub in Reno (NV) and in the course of doing so, created immense discord with the AA pilots union, having failed to lay the ground work with them for the acquisition. Reno Air brought zero to American and less than zero when the labor relations debacle is considered.
The link to a video of Bob Crandall on the Charlie Rose show speaking to airline industry issues, and the bankruptcy at American Airlines, spurred some comments from our readers. The most interesting comment came from a Doug Stephan, whose comment is reproduced at the end of this post.
When we co-owned Commercial Aviation Report (until recently called Commercial Aviation Online by Flight Global, which became the fourth owner of the company), we resided in Dallas in Bob Crandall’s backyard at American.
Naturally the proximity gave us many Crandall stories. Stephan’s comment spurred us to remember some. We share a few with readers today.