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.
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.
100-149 Seat Market: AirInsight has more on its study of the 100-149 Seat Market analysis and why it will be turbulent in the next five years.
Cost Comparisons: Aspire Aviation has a long article on the Cathay Pacific Airways earnings but to us the most interesting parts are the operating cost comparisons between various CX fleet types. It’s all buried in the article.
Super-Guppy: The Puget Sound Business Journal has a video from inside the NASA Boeing Super Guppy. Based on the old Boeing Stratocruiser, the Super Guppy is a specialty airplane originally designed to transport Atlas rockets. Later, Airbus used them to transport fuselage sections around Europe to final assembly in Toulouse. This is probably the last operating variant of any B-377/C-97/KC-97. It’s the last of the Super Guppies. With the retirement of the NASA Shuttle fleet, we wonder what will become of this airplane.
A new study released today by AirInsight concludes the oft-maligned 100-149 seat market is viable, and not a ‘Bermuda Triangle,’ if the right airplane is developed to compete within it.
We’re a co-author of the study, Market Analysis of the 100-149 Seat Segment.
Some aerospace consultants, analysts and observers–as well as Boeing’s Randy Tinseth, VP-Marketing–term the segment a Bermuda Triangle because of airplane “failures” in the market. But the fact is that except for Embraer’s E-Jet, the poorly-conceived British Aerospace/Avro Jets and Bombardier’s pending CSeries, there hasn’t been a clean-sheet design since the 1960s. All other aircraft have been derivatives of older designs and offerings of weak and dying manufacturers.
We need to add the Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100 to the clean-sheet design list, but this falls into the weak OEM category.
Today there are six aircraft types and 15 sub-types from five OEMs. (There were seven and 16 until Tuesday, when Boeing finally dropped the 737-600.)
AirInsight has an analysis of the future of the A319/A319neo and 737-700/737-7 Max here.
Here is a run-down.