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.
The FAA has released a list of air traffic control facilities that could close with Sequestration, which is due to take effect March 1.
The following facilities in Washington State are on the list:
ALW Walla Walla Regional Walla Walla WA
MWH Grant County International Moses Lake WA
OLM Olympia Regional Olympia WA
PAE Snohomish County Airport (Paine Field) Everett WA
RNT Renton Municipal Renton WA
SFF Felts Field Spokane WA
TIW Tacoma Narrows Tacoma WA
YKM Yakima Air Terminal/McAllister Field Yakima WA
Additionally, the over night shifts in the following control towers are at risk:
BFI Boeing Tower Seattle WA
GEG Spokane Tower Spokane WA
The FAA warns that passengers at TSA lines could be up to three hours and tarmac delays at major hub airports could be up to 90 minutes.
Bombardier earnings call today:
CSeries: Bombardier will reveal its first production aircraft March 7, the company said on its earnings call today. First year production will be 20-30 aircraft, and up to 120 a year by 3 1/2 years. BBD is still holding to its first flight target by the end of June, EIS of the CS 100 a year later and EIS of the CS300 by the end of 2014. Pratt & Whitney, BBD and Transport Canada announced certification of the GTF 1500G this week. This is the engine that will power the CSeries.
Russia a ripe market: BBD sees Russia as a ripe market for the Q400, CRJ and CSeries. (And for rail, but we don’t cover rail.) Ilyushin Finance yesterday announced it signed a firm order for 32 CSeries and optioned 10 more. This compares with 10+10 announced in an MOU at the Farnborough Air Show last year. On the earnings call, BBD said the Q400 already is operating in Russia and has proved to be a good cold-weather airplane there. CRJ-200s, which have fallen out of favor in the USA, are being remarketed in Russia with success.
American/US Airways, SkyWest and United targets: These three airlines are major targets for RJ sales campaigns this year.
Program Accounting: “Boeing averages the costs over 10 years. We don’t do that. We take the real price and the real cost.”
Politico has an article on the impact of Sequestration on the air travel industry: long lines at security, delays on the tarmac.
Update: Aviation Week’s Guy Norris has this detailed article in which the third week of March is identified as a target date for the 787 to re-enter service.
Boeing hopes to return the grounded 787 to the skies in March, according to customer briefings, or April, according to news reports, following a planned briefing to the Federal Aviation Administration tomorrow.
See The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and The Seattle Times for details of the FAA briefing and Boeing’s planned program for a permanent fix. These articles suggest an April return to revenue service. The New York Times has this report. Reuters has this report.
A customer we talked with who has been briefed by Boeing said the target date is next month, which squares with another customer briefing we previously reported.
Either date sounds aggressive. The FAA has to review the proposals and satisfy itself that the approaches proposed by Boeing are safe to precede a redesign of the battery. Having been proved wrong once before, we think the FAA isn’t going to rush to judgment this time and (in any event) being the government, nothing moves quickly.
Then there is Sequestration, due to take effect March 1. The FAA’s track record on approving changes proposed by supply chains on unrelated matters that require Supplemental Type Certificates is already excruciatingly slow. Layoffs following Sequestration are expected to hit the FAA’s research and development and will this affect Boeing?
Also an unknown is the investigation into the 787 JAL fire by the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB’s preliminary findings are expected in the first half of March. Will the FAA want to wait for this before moving? Furthermore, the NTSB has already criticized the FAA certification of the battery and related systems in its press briefings and is examining the certification process as part of its investigation. The tension between the FAA and NTSB is long-standing. Will the FAA take more time because it’s one of the targets of the investigation?
Having initially declaring the 787 safe, only to ground the aircraft within days, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the plane won’t be returned to service until the FAA (which is part of Transportation) is “1,000%” sure the airplane is safe. It’s a ridiculous statement, but has LaHood painted the FAA into a corner that will delay a decision about Boeing’s proposals?
Finally, having issued Special Conditions in approving the battery in the first place, will the FAA want more Special Conditions for the fix and the battery redesign?
Any and all of this will take time. There certainly is a recognition on the part of the FAA about the economic impact to the airlines from the grounding.
We don’t think this will move quickly. March-we don’t think so. April-maybe, but challenging.
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.