Showing posts with label Boeing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boeing. Show all posts

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Is the MOM airliner single aisle or twin aisle?

Boeing is arguing this out internally right now.  MOM is Middle of the Market in case you had not heard.  Single aisle is a smaller jet liner say 180 to 200 seats.  Twin aisle is a substantially bigger plane, say 250 - 300 seats.  Right now, 2015, the airlines like smaller planes, and more frequent schedules to capture as many passengers as possible.  If they offer 3 or 4 departures a day of a smaller airliner, they are more more likely to all the passengers to be had on that city-pair.  If they only offer one departure a day of a bigger airliner, the passengers that want to depart earlier or later, are more likely to book with a competing carrier. 
  On the other hand, should over loaded airports like La Guardia impose departure limits (you airline so-and-so only get so many departures from here) then the airlines are likely to fall in love with bigger planes.
   Boeing is doing bet-the-company forecasting right now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Middle of the Market (MOM) airliner

Boeing is talking about doing a new airliner to be a MOM airliner.  Airbus is competing furiously, and Boeing wants a magic product to take market share away from Airbus.  Unfortunately, just what the MOM airliner might be is vague, they don't talk about how many passengers it would carry, or the range it could fly.  And some people feel there is no such MOM design.
   Obviously Boeing is still feeling good about their new 787, which although smaller than the Airbus A380, is selling better.  When they started the 787 they knew that Airbus was doing something much bigger, but Boeing figured that the 787 was about the right size and would sell better, and they were right. 
   The other thing that clouds the issue is that Boeing makes some many different sizes of airliners already that you would think one of them would be the MOM airliner.  They have the smallish single aisle 737 which is still selling every one that comes off the production line.  They have the 757 and 767 models, larger than the 737 and maybe to be dropped.  They have the brand new sizable 787,  the older but large 777, and finally the big old 747.  They are still making a few 747's but it is clearly on the way out.  Given this wealth of Boeing airliner types, it is hard to see a market segment for which they don't have a product. 
   For future growth, Boeing has the 737MAX project to put new and more efficient engines on the 737.  This project is going head to head with a similar project at Airbus putting the new Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engine onto the tried and true A320 airliner.  Boeing has the 777-X project to create an updated version of the big 777 twinjet.  They have the USAF tanker project inhouse which something like 200 aircraft. 
   There has got to be some pressure inside Boeing to do another clean sheet design, using carbon fiber structure, and the latest of everything to create a follow on to the 737.  But the last clean sheet design, the 787, encountered delays, supply chain hangups, cost over runs, battery fires, and it's gonna take years and years of production to recover the money sunk into it.  The 787 has made it thru the development pitfalls and is now in production and making money.  But it was so late that Airbus was able to get the directly competitive A350 to market only a year after the 787.  Anyhow, there must be a lot of people at Boeing who have sworn "Never again" to the concept of advanced clean sheet designs. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program halted.

The losers (Lockheed Martin and Boeing) filed a protest of the contract award to Northrup Grumman.  GAO ordered a stop work for 100 days while they sort thru the paperwork.  Take a 3 month schedule hit right there.  GAO might, after the 100 day hangup, approve the contract award or order the contract rebid, which will take a year. 
   The losers objections are unclear, and mostly unpublished.  What has come out is the Air Force looked at the bidder's re recurring engineering bids and using a lot of bad past experience doubled  all the bids.  Not a bad idea,  contractors typically bid low to get a foot in the door, thinking that they will be able to get their profit margins back up when the Government orders changes, which it always does.  But, what ought to happen when the contractor's underbid, is the government holds them to the original contract.  Fifty years ago, Lockheed under bid on the C-5 job.  USAF made them eat the difference between what Lockheed spent and what Lockheed bid. 
   Fifty years later, USAF lacks that kind of stones.  And, the last big program USAF put out for bid, the KC-46 tanker job, was a disaster.  Boeing protested the award to Airbus, got the contract rebid, and walked away with it.  And Boeing is doing cost overruns and schedule slippages right now. 
   It's hard to tell from where I live want the real story is.  Could be, GAO is allowing a frivolous protest to slow the program down.  Could be USAF did another KC-46 style bungle.  Could be Pentagon procurement regulations are so screwed up that nothing works.  Any way, the program is delayed by the bureaucrats, and delays always raise the cost to the taxpayer. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Making haste slowly, and cost enhancement

After two previous snafu's, Boeing got the Air Force contract for the KC-46 tanker.  That only took 7 or 8 years of well paid lawyer work to sort out.  The original idea was to buy the well proven Boeing 767 airliner, take out the seats and fill the cabin with tanks.  Somewhere along the line, the gold plate boys slipped in a few cost enhancements.  They called for the aircraft wiring to be redesigned to USAF specs.  Never mind that the commercial 767 has been flying safely for 25 years using Boeing designed wiring.  Never mind that Boeing knows more about how to wire an aircraft than everyone in the Air Force all put together.  And to add insult to injury, someone dropped the ball, and the first few aircraft off the line lacked the USAF spec wiring.  Boeing last year took a $425 million pre tax charge for this.  Cost enhancement at work, again. 
   And then someone slipped in a requirement for extensive flight testing.  They are talking about making 65 test flights a month, which is a helova lotta flying.  I doubt they will make that schedule.  Never mind that this is a well proven commercial airliner with an excellent safety record going back 25 years, we are gonna flight test it like it is a brand new clean sheet design that have never flown before.  Cost enhancement at work, again.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

EPA gets airborne

The EPA just claimed jurisdiction over the world's airlines.  They are gonna publish regulations on aircraft emissions.  Not that this will reduce emissions, it will just serve as a tax on air travel. 
   The best engineers in the world have been working flat out for 100 years to make aircraft more efficient.  They have had some success, new airliners with the latest engines are a tad more fuel efficient than ones built 10 years ago.  Boeing and Airbus salesmen claim as much as 20%, most people will allow them 5%.  That's enough for the airlines to order new planes and mothball what they are flying now.  Boeing has a backlog of 900 orders for its latest 787 model.  And nearly as many for its re engined 737 MAX.  Airbus is doing likewise.  In short, the most fuel efficient possible airliners are in full production and going into service as fast as they roll off the production line. 
   With jet fuel at $2.50 a gallon the airlines have all the incentive necessary to conserve fuel as much as possible.  The air frame builders have every incentive to improve fuel burn, namely,  planes that burn less fuel have better range and can haul bigger loads. 
   In a nutshell, market forces have made air travel as fuel efficient as possible.  EPA regulation won't improve anything, it will serve in place of a tax.  In the depths of Great Depression 2.0, we don't need more taxes. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

International Aviation Market Forecast for 2015

Interesting chart in Aviation Week about commercial aircraft production.  Comercial being jetliners, regional jet liners, utility aircraft.  No biz jets.  No military aircraft and no helicopters.  Sales forecasts are all for the next ten years. 
First thing that comes out in that there are only two real makers of full sized jet airliners, Airbus and Boeing.  Airbus is projected to build 7000 jet liners.  Boeing is projected to build 7400.  When you think that each aircraft sells for $50-100 million, that's a lotta business. 
  Then there are builders who are pretty much dead.  Ilyushin is projected to build just two IL-96 wide body jetliners.  At that production rate, they are losing barrels of money on each plane.  And we have Tupolev's TU 204/214 single aisle jet liner with a forecast of a mere 9 aircraft.  Let's guess the Russian government is subsidizing Ilyushin and Tupolev to keep the production lines open just in case they can line up some orders.  Good luck with that.  I hear the Aeroflot is advertising that they fly western built aircraft on all their overseas routes. 
   Then we have the regional jet liners.  These look like regular single aisle airliners, but they are smaller and seat few passengers, less than 90, as compared to a 737 which seats 150-180 depending upon model.  The regional jet liner makers are new comers, Embraer (Brazil) , Bombardier (Canada), and Comac (China).  Presumably it is easier to break into the jet liner market at the bottom, and perhaps small jets can be sold to the various puddle jumper airlines still flying small turboprops.  Sales projection are a hundred or so for each maker.  This market doesn't look all that hot.
  And then we have some surprisingly strong utility aircraft.  Beech King Air is forecast to sell 1302 aircraft.  That's more than all the regional jet makers put together.  The Pilatus PC-12 is forecast to sell 846 aircraft.  Even though utility aircraft don't bring in the money that regular jet liners do, that's still a nice bit of business. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Some smoke, no fire

Boeing's mods to the 787 battery system are at least partially successful.  On 14 Jan, this year, A JAL 787 started to smoke while standing on the ramp.  A single cell in the eight cell main battery got in trouble, heated up, and vented.  The main part of the 787 mods was a fireproof metal battery box vented overboard.  That part worked fine, the overheated cell did not touch off the rest of the cells in the battery, the ovrheating/fire was contained inside the new battery box.  Not clear is the effects of such a failure in flight.  Depends upon the flight I suppose.  If the engines keep running, the engine driven alternators will supply plenty of juice.  If we have first a battery failure, and then total engine failure, will the batteries ( there are two of them) have enough juice to get the gear and flaps down,  power the radio, and keep the cockpit instrument lights alive?  And keep the fancy fly-by-wire system working? 
   Anyhow, doesn't look like they have licked the battery bursts into fire problem, but the battery box is strong enough to contain the fire.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Picky software reduces dispatch reliability of 787 Dreamliners

The 787 has more powerful computers than anything flying, more sensors for temperature and pressure and such than ever before, and the software checks all the sensors and keeps issuing warnings to the crew when there is really nothing wrong.  But the crew has to do something when the computers are crying "Failure". Especially, when the computer issues an alarm before takeoff, the aircrew will call maintenance to check it out before they taxi out, leading to late departures.  Boeing claims a dispatch reliability of 97.5% which sounds pretty good, but it means that out of 100 departures, 2 or 3 will be delayed by computers crying wolf. 
   Any how Boeing is updating the software to make it less hypochondriac.   They want to get dispatch reliability up to 99.2%
   Dunno how we ever flew anywhere back in the '60s and '70s before microprocessors.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Airbus wins Japan Airlines Order

Japan Airlines just signed a deal to buy 31 A350 airliners from Airbus.  At $200 million each, this is $12 billon in sales, quite a chunk of change.  The A350 is so new it just made it's first test flight this summer and has a year or two of testing and certification before it can be delivered.  It's carbon fiber (fiberglass) construction, intended to compete with Boeing's 787.   Boeing could have had this sale, if their 787 had not been so late, and if it hadn't had those battery fires.   Up until now, Japanese airlines were all Boeing fleets, Boeing and the Japanese industry had numerous joint ventures and cross sales arrangements.  Now that JAL has bought Airbus, the other Japanese carriers are expected to follow suit.
   Aviation Week credits the Airbus sale to effective work by top Airbus executives, Leahy (no first name given) Head of Sales, and Fabrice Bregier, CEO.  They also mention JAL's new chairman, Kazuo Inamori saying that an airline as big as JAL ought to have more than one supplier.  Which is true.
  Also interesting is the backlog of Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 orders.  Although Boeing has 979 orders for 787's, Airbus is running hard with 725 orders for the A350.  Each backlog represents about $2 trillion dollars worth of business.  Staggering.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Advanced countries, jet airliner production.

Jet airliners,  70 seats and up.  Anything less is a puddlejumper.  Listing of production forecasts from Aviation Week.

Country                  Company                           Total                      Aircraft models

United States           Boeing                              7395 total airliners.  737, 787, 777,747 767

France/Germany     Airbus                                6949 total airliners   A319.320,321,330-,340,350 380

Brazil                     Embraer                              973 total airliners    170 175 190 195

Russia                    Antonov, Ilyushin, Sukhoi    438 total airliners    100, IL-96 MS21

Canada                  Bombardier                         376 total airliners     CRJ

China                     Comac Xian                        297 total airliners    MA60, ARJ21, C919

Japan                     Mitsubishi                            285 total airliners    MRJ

Boeing is ahead of Airbus by a nose, and not much more.  Both Boeing and Airbus are miles ahead of everyone else.  Brazil plans to build twice as many airliners as Russia.  Canada plans to out produce China. The lower end producers are building smaller (100 seat) planes, where as the two leaders make a broad selection with top end aircraft seating 400 and up.   

  Viewed as an index of industrial and technological advancement, Brazil and Canada are higher up the food chain than one would expect.  Britain sold out it's stake in Airbus and so doesn't appear at all, although Rolls Royce remains an important maker of jet engines. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Goldie Oldie takes a hit from rank newbie

Last month, it looked like South Korea was going to buy 60 F15's.  Now we are not so sure.  The Koreans have announced they have re opened the competition, with the F35 and the European Typhoon back in the running.  The Korean Defense Minister said, "There is a consensus that South Korea needs the 5th generation fighter jet to deter the growing threat posed by North Korean".  Aviation Week says this means the F35 will win.
   This is a tremendous disappointment for Boeing, they were hoping for a big order to keep the F15 production line running.  But it's understandable, the F15 is old, and the South Korean Air Force really wanted to be flying something up to date.  Fifteen former Korean air force chiefs wrote an open letter to the Korean president  supporting  the F35.  On the other hand, it's a great boost for Lockheed Martin, who needs the sales.
  F35 isn't getting any cheaper.  Last month Aviation Week quoted the cost as $97 million.  This week they report that negotiations the Low Rate Inital Production batch 7 will be $96.8 million, LESS engines.  That's a biggy, engines are usually 25% of the cost of an aircraft, so with engines, the F35 is hiked up to $125 million. Each. Ouch.
   Plus, F35 is a totally software product.  The software to launch missiles, aim guns, jam enemy radar and drop bombs is still under development.  Only the basic "aviate and navigate" software is actually running in the aircraft.   Until that software is finished, the F35 is not a warplane, it's just an expensive trainer.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Goldie Oldie still competitive

South Korea is shopping for 60 new jet fighter planes.  There were gonna buy the brand new F35.  But the Boeing salesman have been active and for the last round of Korean competition, the trusty F15, which first flew in 1972, is in the competition.  The Korean purchasing board has disqualified the F35 as being too expensive ($96 million), and disqualified the Eurofighter Typhoon for "bidding irregularities."
    The purchasing commission decision will be reviewed by a top bracket committee chaired by the South Korean defense minister.  Korean news media say that the Korean Air Force is unhappy, they wanted the newer F35, but the finance minister is holding firm on the budget which was $7.4 billion.  Some explaining is due here, 60 F35's at $96 million apiece comes out to $5.7 billion, well with in a $7.4 budget.  Either the $7.4 billion has to pay for a few things besides new fighters, or Lockheed Martin did a LOT of marking up.
   The "bidding irregularities" is difficult to understand as well.  The Koreans had agreed with Eurofighter to bid 45 single seaters and 15 twin seat models.  The Korean's beef is that Eurofighter changed the deal to 54 single seat and only 6 single seat models, with out telling 'em.  This was supposed to save money.   Any salesman worth his salt would know that changing the customer's specs on a bid is suicide.  I guess Eurofighter has a death wish.  Granted 2 seaters are more expensive 'cause you have to build two cockpits, which costs twice as much as one cockpit, but when we a doing a deal for 60 planes,  the extra cost is too small to jeopardize the deal. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Suits never learn

Aviation Week interviewed Boeing CEO Jim McNerney. 

Aviation Week:  "In retrospect, was the amount of weight you saved with Lithium Ion batteries a case of too much risk for too little reward?"

McNerney:  "It's not as simple as a weight-reduction-gone-awry conclusion because we get added capability from this battery, such as its capacity to quickly charge. In an all electric airplane, its a more capable battery. 

Yeah right.  Added capability is bafflegab.  All a battery can do is supply electricity.  As far "quick charging"  and "all electric airplane", all the battery has to do is get the engines started.  Then the aircraft runs off generator power.  As long as the battery recharges before the engines shut down at the end of the flight, all is well.

   In actual fact, some one at Boeing got carried away with the coolness of lithium batteries and did not bother to consider the fire hazard, which might not have been clear when the 787 was first conceived back in the late 1990's, but was pretty obvious by 2003 or 4.   Everyone else in the industry dropped lithium battery plans after they started catching fire in the 787.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Take no small slips

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner program has just announced that the plane is going to be 6 months late. This flagship program, with 710 confirmed orders, is the future of Boeing. No other program can touch the 787 for numbers of aircraft and dollars. These things go for $200 mil or so, which makes 710 of 'em worth about $150 billion dollars. Many of them are exported, which does good things for the US balance of payments. The schedule slip means all that cash flow doesn't start for another 6 months, which has gotta hurt. New airplane programs are incredible money sinks. Years of R&D work, zillions of dollars for parts, huge project team all drawing salaries, and no money coming in until they deliver the product. This slip means Boeing's money is going out for six months longer, which is a whole potful of money.
If the Boeing program managers are good, the slip will be only six months. If you are going to slip a program, better to take one big slip than a lot of small ones. The amount of ill will generated among senior management, customers and other stake holders is about the same for a big slip as a small one. It's tempting to make the program slip as small as you can, thinking you look better that way. "We are only a few weeks late, that's not so bad". But, if a few weeks later you have to admit to another small slip, and then another, and another, your credibility goes down the drain, and all the stakeholders have multiple chances to get mad at you. Better to do a realistic reschedule and take enough time so your team can in fact meet the new schedule even if it means a long slip.