Boeing’s KC-46A is moving ahead through milestones as summer approaches, despite being a the Sequestration “hit list” of programs that could be curtailed.
The USAF has previously said it wants to do all that it can to protect the program and the contract, seeking to avoid having to renegotiate the contract with Boeing.
- The Puget Sound Business Journal has this article concerning the forthcoming NTSB hearing on the JAL 787 incident.
- US Airways now has echoed Delta Air Lines, saying Sequestration hurt March bookings and last minute travel.
- Buzz here in Seattle is that the 787 will fly another test flight today.
- UBS tracks Dreamlifter flights to gauge 787 production rates and notes that more flights than ever are now occurring. From this, UBS infers 787 production will ramp up according to plan.
Odds and Ends: Refusing to fly 787; 787 AD was wrong; KC-46A cost analysis; Battery fix certification?
Refusing to fly 787: This is a stunning survey by the website Travel Insider: 32% of frequent fliers will refuse to fly the 787 even after it is fixed for the first year or two and another third would prefer to avoid the 787. The numbers are huge. We knew there would be some who refused to fly the plane–the same thing happened to the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 after it was grounded in 1979–but the numbers are stunning.
We also recognize that we’re still at the height of the press coverage of the still-grounded aircraft. Once it returns to service, it will be interesting to see results if the survey were re-run.
There was no doubt Boeing received a black eye over the grounding. It now appears both eyes are blackened.
FAA 787 AD was wrong: The FAA should have pulled the 787 type certificate, argues a former member of the National Transportation Board.
KC-46A Costs: The Blog by Javier (Irastorza Mediavilla) has a detailed analysis of the contract price performance so far of the Boeing KC-46A. although the blog is mostly about his personal activities, Javier works for Airbus Military on the A400M program. (Note: he does not speak for nor represent Airbus through his blog). This might make some of his aerospace analysis suspect in the minds of some, but we have found his commentaries and analysis to be well researched and thought out. And he has a good sense of humor.
FAA reliance on OEMs: Reuters has a detailed piece about the Federal Aviation Administration’s reliance on OEMs (and specifically Boeing) in aircraft development, all triggered of course by the 787 issues. We wrote about this relationship shortly after the now-infamous joint press conference by the FAA and Boeing in which the FAA, Boeing and the Department of Transportation said the 787 was safe.
Re-certifying the battery fix: We keep getting told whatever Boeing does to fix the battery issue will require re-certification of the battery and/or system–that it will be more than simply complying with the Airworthiness Directive. This, of course, would add time to getting the 787 back into revenue service. Does anyone have some insight on this?
“Of all time:” Airbus Tweeted last Friday (referring to its website): The A320 (soon to be made in Mobile) is undisputed best selling aircraft product line of all time.” (Emphasis added.)
We don’t think so. “Of all time”? “Aircraft product line”? 737 All Series 10,501. A320 family: 9,142. DC-3/C-47/Others under license: 16,079.
We know what Airbus was trying to say: It’s A320 family vs the equivalent technology Boeing 737NG and 737 MAX, for which through January sold 7,369. But the claim, as worded, just isn’t so.
Furthermore, the A320 first entered service in 1988 and the 737NG in 1994. A true comparison needs to knock six years of sales off the A320.
To quote the controversy of a recent Washington (DC) tempest in a teapot, “[We] know [Airbus] may not believe this, but as a friend, [we] think [Airbus] will regret staking out that claim.”
The US Air Force will have to “restructure” the USAF KC-46A tanker contract with Boeing if Sequestration hits on March 1, according to a new document issued today. The document doesn’t indicate what “restructure” means, but we’d guess the fixed price deal that won Boeing the contract will eventually become a lot more expensive to taxpayers.
Very localized to Seattle, Sequestration also means the Blue Angels will likely be grounded by the Navy as well. This aerobatic group has been a staple of the local Sea Fair for decades, and has been a key in public relations for the
Air ForceNavy. While we acknowledge the Blue Angels have nothing to do with readiness, since we live in Seattle, and this is our blog, we get to be highly provincial once in a while.
While the aviation world is absorbed with the Boeing 787 drama, there actually is more going on.
KC-46A Defense Cuts: We were the first to report this when the White House issued its Sequestration hit list, but with Congress once again failing to do its job, Sequestration is over the horizon . Defense News has this update.
SPEEA Talks Resume: Boeing made its second contract offer Monday. SPEEA reviewed it yesterday. Talks resume today. We’re very pessimistic, but SPEEA presented the following today:
With the desire to focus all attention on solving the emergent issues with The Boeing Company’s 787, the union representing engineers and technical workers today (Jan. 16) proposed incorporating areas of agreement from ongoing negotiations into existing contracts and extending the agreements for another four years.
This “best and final” offer by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, was presented as negotiations resumed at 1 p.m. with the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) at the SeaTac Hilton.
SPEEA’s unprecedented offer would free Boeing and 23,000 engineers and technical workers from protracted and increasingly contentious negotiations that appear headed for a strike. It also allows the company and its technical workforce to focus on reaffirming confidence and proving the 787 is the reliable and safe product employees know it to be. Completing negotiations also helps Boeing stay focused on supporting customers, engineering the 767 tanker, 737 MAX, increasing 737 and 777 production rates and the other products needed for our national defense.
“These negotiations have been going on for more than a year,” said Tom McCarty, SPEEA president and Professional Team member. “At this point, we should move forward with the items upon which we can agree, and leave the status quo in place for the remaining items.”
In addition to the proposed contract extension, SPEEA requested that Boeing continue to meet under the auspices of FMCS mediation to tackle the difficult issues that have proven so divisive in these negotiations.
“Our hope is that we can work collaboratively to find solutions in a data-rich environment outside of the constraints of the collective bargaining process” said Ryan Rule, Professional Team member.
In making the proposal, SPEEA agreed to accept Boeing’s funding mechanism for the Ed Wells Partnership training program. The status quo proposal continues to offset company medical costs through annual deductible increases based on salary growth. To put to rest the pension issue, a major point of contention, SPEEA proposes to accept the same pension proposal that Boeing negotiated with the International Association of Machinists (IAM District 751). Finally, the contract extension offer is made with the understanding Boeing recognizes same-sex survivor pension benefits pursuant to Washington state law.
“With our contracts put to rest, we can all roll up our sleeves and work the issues facing the 787 and Boeing,” said Sandy Hastings, Technical Team member. “SPEEA members know this is a great airplane, and we are eager to prove this to our customers, the flying public and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).”
KC-46A Progress: National Defense magazine has this update on progress of the Boeing KC-46A tanker. According to the article, progress is proceeding well.
Southwest Airlines and AirTran: Southwest Airlines is the USA’s legacy low-cost carrier, and it has grown through selected mergers. The acquisition of LCC AirTran fills a big gap in Southwest’s system (the Southeast) and is the most ambitious effort yet. This article wonders if it’s too much.
British Airways’ A380: BA has revealed its interior plans for the Airbus A380. The news article is here. BA becomes another airline to configure the super-jumo with fewer than 500 seats.
Cattle Car: Airbus is looking at a 236-seat configuration for its A321, using 28-inch seat pitch. Ouch.