July 2012 » AirInsight
A Commercial Aviation Consultancy

Monthly Archives: July 2012

There is good news and bad news in Allegiant Air’s  selection of the Airbus A319 for Airbus.

On the positive side, Allegiant becomes a new Airbus customer using the A319 in an ultra- low cost business model, which is positive.  Airbus CEO Barry Eccleston stated that “Allegiant is hyper conscious of both cost and comfort, and the fact that they are turning to the A320 family proves that we have the aircraft the airline knows it needs to fly them successfully into the future.”

But on the negative side, Allegiant’s President Andrew Levy noted “A319 asset values have significantly declined, and now mirror the environment we saw when we first began buying MD-80s.”   Does that mean that the A319ceo is next on the list of aircraft headed for desert storage, with low residual values required to make operating economics work?  Allegiant has traditionally been a… Continue reading

On Saturday, a Boeing 787 runway test with the most recently built aircraft, equipped with GEnx engines, experienced an engine failure, resulting in debris on the runway approach and causing a brush fire.   This closed the airport, resulting in the diversion of two inbound commercial flights, as with the main runway at Charleston currently shut down for repaving, the airport is operating with a single runway.

Fortunately, the failure occurred during preflight runway testing and not an actual flight.  Nonetheless, the situation was warranted as serious enough for the National Transportation Safety Board to conduct an investigation.

No one was injured in the incident, and it is not expected to delay production of the aircraft or immediately impact the program.  The more important question, however, is what caused the incident, and whether it will require modifications to the GEnx engines that are already in service with… Continue reading

One of the reasons American Airlines is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy is arrogance.   American was “too proud” to declare Chapter 11 when the rest of the industry did after 9-11 and restructure, even though restructuring at that time to remain competitive would have likely resulted in their retaining an industry leadership position, rather than shrinking while others expended or consolidated.  But that arrogance is nothing new for American.  American’s culture has never been one to “play fair with partners” and we’ve watched former partnerships and joint ventures go down the tubes one after another because American always seemed to want an 80/20 rather than 50/50 deal when it worked with other airlines.

American does have a legacy of innovation, including the first computer reservation system, the first yield management systems, inventing super-saver fares, and the first frequent flyer program.  While these were now long… Continue reading

Airbus parent EADS Friday (July 27) announced a three month delay in the planned Entry-into-Service, to well into the second half of 2014 instead of mid-year.

Problems with drilling holes in the wing assembly are blamed for this delay, the third and which now aggregate 15 months.

The A350 program delay attracts attention because it comes after delays in the A380 and A400M programs at Airbus and the 787 and 747-8 programs at Boeing.  But what is given less attention is the steep learning curve both firms have gone through after these program delays. A little perspective is needed. A recent visit to Airbus’ A350 factory in Hamburg provided a timely perspective.

Although the factory and its people have been working with CRFP for 30 years, the scale of the parts on A350 is much larger. The factory tooling utilizes lasers for layups – the level of technology on… Continue reading

There is a continuing debate about what aerospace firms need to focus on with next generation aircraft.  The search for weight savings is relentless.  Whereas many think the battle has already been won by CRFP, the truth is less so. Take a look at this slide form a recent ALCOA briefing.

Feeding this debate is the fact that pure carbon fibers weigh 0.06 ounces per cubic centimeter. Aluminum weighs 0.1 ounces and and steel 0.28 ounces.  Carbon fiber weights 40% less than aluminum and 78% less than steel.  Even when one considers the carbon fiber being processed with resins and baked into structures, its weight is still 66% that of an aluminum equivalent.  It is these facts that make so many believe the debate is over. Everyone is impressed that a Formula One car driver, with a car made of CRFP, stands a good chance… Continue reading

US-based SkyWest Airlines gave a big boost to the MRJ program when it announced an LOI for 100 MRJs at the recent Farnborough Air Show. Some characterize this order as a "blow" to Bombardier and Embraer. Such a view is, at the least, missing a key data point. Take a look at the fleet breakdown.
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