Archive For October 30, 2012
The pressure is on Boeing for its 787—and we mean this in a good way.
After years of a program in disarray, Boeing is now delivering new-production aircraft and some of those that have littered the Everett Paine Field taxiways and ramps for the last four years. (more…)
This week we had the opportunity to visit the A350XWB FAL inauguration. The event was well attended by French politicians. After all the FAL will employ a large number of skilled people in France. Program boss Didier Evrard said the program currently has some 15,000 people involved throughout the supply chain and this number will rise to 35,000 at ramp up. Consequently the A350 is going to attract a lot of attention across the EU, and ultimately beyond.
One day after the FAL inauguration, Singapore Airlines announced an increased order for the A350XWB. This follows a similar order from Cathay Pacific. These orders are influential because both airlines are large 777 operators. The A350XWB is a strong competitor for the 777, and likely even for the 777X to come.
Please pardon the handheld camera shake. Take a look at the speeches from the event:
Airbus released this image today of the first A350 vertical tail. It is 10 meters tall and is the first part of the A350 MSN1 to be painted. The device is made from composites in Stade near Hamburg. The A350 tail will connect to the fuselage in a different way than other tails, Airbus is using a methods that are lighter and stronger.
We had a chance to see the tail assembly in Stade and it is a process that is highly automated. At the bottom of the tail, the assembly connection piece is carved out of solid titanium. This process is remarkable to watch because it is exceptionally exacting.
Rob Dewar, VP & GM CSeries Program, spoke with us today about the tightening timeline the program is facing. Although this is not big news, he shares that the program has seen significant benefits from its investments in its CIASTA – they have been able to accumulate ten times the flight hours that a typical program (flying an airplane) does. The assembly team is also seemingly trained and well down the learning curve. But, based on this call we think there won’t be a first flight in 2012. First quarter 2013 seems more likely.
We had a chance to speak Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, and also a 21 year veteran pilot at American. The conversation quickly moved into a review of the Chapter 11 situation plus its origins. While the conversation is the view from organized labor, with its attendant bias, one is left with the impression that matters have sunk to a truly low level. Morale is down. The Transport Workers Union and Flight attendants have joined the pilots in siding with the management at US Airways. The pilots want the merger as soon as possible because they see the delays further disrupting the airline’s recovery.
The first western operated SSJ has arrived in Venice for completion. The airplane is destined for delivery to Mexican airline, Interjet in March 2013. This is an important milestone for both Sukhoi and SuperJet International. To date the airplane has been operated in the CIS and the performance information has been influenced by where the information has been coming from.
For example, launch customer Amravia seemed delighted with the airplane which replaced an A319. But then we heard the airline had returned the SSJ to Sukhoi – it appeared the airline was unhappy with it. Later it transpired the airline could not afford the SSJ. At Aeroflot we understand that unhappiness with the SSJ has nothing to do with its performance – rather there is a personality clash between the bosses at the airline and Sukhoi. This type of news flow has been confusing, to say the least.
Therefore the arrival of the airplane at a western airline will be the first time that SuperJet International will be able to show off the airplane’s performance in a setting that is more transparent. Interjet has firm orders with SuperJet International for 20 SSJs. All will be in a 93-seat configuration. It would be fair to say that interest in the performance of the airplane is eagerly awaited by many. It is the first of the new (non derivative) airplanes in this segment.