A Commercial Aviation Consultancy

Recently a number of airlines flying Boeing 737s have switched to the latest Aviation Partners’ (APB) winglet. The new device is called Split Scimitar, as shown in the image. Its shape is quite different from the previous blended winglets seen on 737s.


United Airlines was the launch customer and other airlines have ordered the new Scimitar device. The new device is said to improve fuel burn from the previous winglet’s 3.5% to 5.5%, a very significant   savings.

Very few company initiatives will have as dramatic an impact that the “Partnering for Success” program introduced by Boeing creates.  This new program fundamentally changes the way Boeing does business with companies that manufacture components for its aircraft, which is about 2/3rds of the content.

The new program, in a nutshell, calls for a 15-25% price reduction to Boeing, in exchange for participation in the anticipated higher volumes as the industry continues to grow and Boeing expands production rates.  As a part of the program, Boeing also increases its control of the aftermarket, prohibiting direct sales of most spares, providing Boeing another opportunity for mark-ups to its end-user airline customers. 

We put a few questions to Inmarsat about their services and tracking aircraft.  The answers are fascinating in light of recent events.

  • In the wake of AF447 and MH370, it would seem the case for tracking aircraft is self-evident. Should this tracking be on all aircraft or only those in distress?

Tracking – or position reporting – should be on every trans-oceanic aircraft.  Many airlines already routinely [and voluntarily] report their position using Inmarsat’s services. In fact, on average, operators report aircraft position every 22 minutes, rising to 18 minutes on North Atlantic routes where there is a mandate for use of Future Air Navigation System (FANS) capabilities, which includes position reporting to Air Traffic Control via ADS-C.

Some aircraft operators report aircraft position already as frequently as every 2 minutes. This usage reinforces that the benefit of position reporting is clearly understood by aircraft operators and the… Continue reading

In the wake of this week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, it seems that airlines are paying attention to the revenue potential in the cabin.  As is pointed out here, connectivity is becoming the “new normal”.  So its with interest that we note Vueling, a Spanish LCC, is adding connectivity.  The solution comes from Telefónica and combines with Eutelsat and LiveTV (now owned by Thales).  Telefónica will integrate the LiveTV onboard technology and ViaSat satellite terminals with Eutelsat’s Air Acess mobile service, which uses high throughput satellites. The system should generate 20MBps.  Four of the airline’s A320s are being fitted, but we expect the entire fleet will get this service.  Interestingly the solution is going right away to satellite, Ka band for now, but probably will migrate to Ku eventually.   Continue reading

The much delayed Lear 85 from Bombardier made its first flight today in Wichita.  First flight was originally anticipated about one year ago, but the program was delayed by software issues, much like the CSeries, which has several aircraft currently in flight testing.  Bombardier has not yet released an update as to when the aircraft is scheduled for entry into service.

learjet-85-wbj Continue reading

1The Sukhoi SSJ has been quietly developing its footprint. Historically, expectations for an aircraft built in Russia center around robust construction but sub-par technology and efficiency; the SSJ is radically different from those expectations.  Primarily, its creator, Sukhoi is a world class builder of fighters. Their aircraft serve not only as frontline equipment for Russia, but  are also found in 26 Air Forces, many of which can afford to buy from western suppliers – such as India, Malaysia and Egypt.  Secondly, Sukhoi is developing Russia’s fifth generation fighter, the PAK FA also in tandem with developing a larger civilian airliner called the MS-21.   Sukhoi is an aerospace firm with the technology and IP to produce aircraft at global standards.

In the last two days, there have been stories coming out of India regarding regulators and airfares.  The first reported that the Indian DGCA told Spicejet to stop offering extremely low fares.  The carrier had offered fares as low as 1 rupee.   The second highlights a report that the Competition Commission is investigating identical airfares, because airlines are pricing their routes identically.  In India, government regulators are apparently in conflict with each other.

This is what happens when government has too much control over markets.  Spicejet is told not to innovate, yet when it prices at the same levels as other carriers, which the regulators apparently want, it is investigated for collusion with the rest of the industry. Continue reading

UnknownThe Boeing 777 has proven to be a remarkable aircraft.  Even though the airplane entered service nineteen years ago, it has maintained strong momentum in the marketplace.  Boeing has demonstrated, once again, that it is a master of derivative designs.  The next generation 777X will extend that to new levels of efficiency.

The evolution of the 777 is interesting to review. The chart below illustrates how Boeing rapidly refined their program with derivative models to improve performance. Each iteration enabled Boeing to obtain additional orders to drive program profitability.

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