1/13/2015

After Airbus Press Conference: Rate Increase and LEAP-1A delay?

Airbus today announced their final 2014 orders and delivery results. Beside a new delivery record there is one noticable item that begs two questions: the increasing backlog of the A320ceo shouts and screams for a (very) near term announcement of a rate increase, which was probably decided some months ago. Also, it puts into question if the CFM LEAP-1A, the second engine for the A320neo, will be available on time. The PW1100G seems to be "out of the woods", getting certification late last year and Airbus CEO Bregier during the Investors Days in December said that he expects the first delivery of the A320neo in November 2015.
The backlog for the A320ceo stands now at 1508. This is 38 more than at the end of November, which I analyzed here. Subtracting all 102 "suspicious" orders gets us to 1406 open orders. The still not booked order from CASGC would lead us then to 1476 open orders for about 1164 delivery positions until 2018. So Airbus overbooked the A320ceo lines by 250 aircraft at current production rates.
Now, as I said above, I think a rate increase is coming for sure. For one to clear the A320ceo backlog as soon as possible, but also to be able to offer earlier production slots in upcoming campaigns.
As for the overbooking of the A320ceo, there could also be another reason: the LEAP-1A has still not flown on the GE Flying Testbed. At the time the LEAP-1C began the test campaign on the other GE testbed in early October CFM said that the -1A would follow within a month. Now we are two months later...maybe something was found during the -1C test campaign that needed a change for both variants?

12/10/2014

A320ceo and B737NG backlogs

As I wrote briefly last week, it looks like Airbus is increasingly overbooking the A320ceo. But what does "overbooking" mean? Well, I always compare the remaining backlog to what I think was the

12/05/2014

Airbus A320ceo overbooking

Today the Airbus Order & Deliveries spreadsheet for November 2014 was published. There are 89 new orders for the A320ceo family (the most from unidentified customers and my feeling is that these are chinese airlines). There is also the cancellation of 10 A321ceo's from Jetblue - they are taking 10 more A321neo instead. So there are 79 more net orders for the A320ceo line, which was heavily overbooked even before these new orders. I will do a deeper analysis next week, also including the situation for the B737NG.

10/15/2014

New competition in Large Cabin Bizjet Segment

Yesterday Gulfstream announced their two new aircraft offerings in the Large Cabin segment, the G500 and the G600, powered with PW800 engines from P&WC. A very good summary of what these look like and what they can may be found in a long article from Aviation Week.
These aircraft borrow a lot of technology from the top-of-the-line G650(ER). In some cases, they top the G650, for example in the cockpit design.
Although Gulfstream says that these two new aircraft are additions to their product line and are not intended to replace the G450 and G550, I believe at least the days of the G450 are counted. If you read that the G500 will carry less fuel than the G450, but the G500 will fly 5000nm at M0.85, whereas the G450 flies 4220nm at M0.8. Moreover, the G500 has a cabin that is 2.5ft longer and 7 inches wider, providing a higher pressure in flight, making traveling more comfortable. Also, noise will be less, both out- and inside.
So I would not be surprised to see a run on these models comparable to the G650 when this aircraft was first announced. Production slots were sold every minute back then.
What will be the reaction from Bombardier. The G500 and G600 are clearly aiming at the Global5000 and Global 6000. We get a few hints when we search the Internet for the term "BR700NG": for example take a look here: GE is not the only one going for high tech ceramics in a business jet engine (the Passport 20 in this case). RR will also incorporate parts from this material in their BR700NG. And I am sure that
  • the BR700NG will be the engine for an update of the Global 5000/6000
  • that this update will be announced at the NBAA in Orlando next week
So what is Airbus vs. Boeing in the commercial aircraft arena is Bombardier vs. Gulfstream in the bizjet arena (with more than a little bit of noise from Dassault although).

10/07/2014

Boeing's B737 rate hike

I just read a very good comment from Richard Aboulafia regarding the rate hike for the B737MAX announced by Boeing last week.
I think he is right. The possibility that this rate hike will NOT be executed is higher than the possibility that we will really see the hike. Aboulafia points out several reasons why that is.
And there is another one (at least in my mind): and that is the fast pace that Boeing wants to transition from the B737NG to the B737MAX. The article by Dominic Gates points out that by 2018 when the rate hike would be kicking in the output of the B737MAX would reach 26 aircraft a month, thus 50% of the production. And another article at Flightglobal states that the last B737NG will be delivered to Ryanair in the second quarter of 2019. So the plan is to transition from the NG to the MAX in less than two years. This has two consequences:
  1. I often wrote about how many B737NG orders Boeing would need to fill the B737NG production slots until the B737MAX will take over full production. I assumed that the transition will take place in a similar manner than Airbus plans it for the A320. The hast A320ceo will be delivered in 2018, almost three years after the first delivery of the A320neo. Now if Boeing cuts the transition time to under two years, a lot less open B737NG production slots have to be filled. In a first guess I would say about 250.
  2. There is a big challenge for all B737MAX suppliers which have to produce parts that changed for the B737MAX compared to the B737NG design. The one supplier that will be most challenged is CFM (and CFM's suppliers as well). They have to handle the ramp up of the LEAP-1A for the A320neo and the LEAP-1B for the B737MAX almost simultaneously.
Airbus is in a little bit better situation as they have to engine suppliers, so the risk is not that big. The first engine (PW1100G) ís already flying on the first A320neo, the second one (LEAP-1A) is due to fly in late October/early November. Although the date for the first flight on GE's flying test bed for the LEAP-1A and the "sister engine" LEAP-1C (for the C919) seems to have already slipped more than one time. Originally the LEAP-1C should have had first flight in May, then later in the summer, the early September and then late September. It is now early October and I haven't seen a press release (and I fully expect one) nor have I seen N747GE (fitted with the LEAP-1C) flying on flightradar. Let's see if N747GF (with the LEAP-1A) will take to the skies in the next four weeks...