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May 30, 2024
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AirInsight looks back on the highs and lows in commercial aviation in 2011, all in no particular order.

1. Airbus has runaway success with the A320neo, exceeding its own expectations.
2. After a late start, Boeing clearly shifts into high gear for the re-engined 737 and ends the year with an impressive number of orders and commitments.
3. Pratt & Whitney is back in the small engine game with a series of successes for the Geared Turbo Fan.
4. CFM revamps its LEAP-X after losing key competition to Lufthansa and others and returns with a better design that is more fuel efficient than the first iteration.
5. Boeing has a tremendous year for the 777-300ER order book.
6. Boeing wins the USAF tanker competition, based on the commercial 767, not without controversey
7. Boeing finally delivers the first 787 and 747-8F.
8. Airbus’ success with the A320neo and the monopoly-breaking American Airlines order maneuvers Boeing into abandoning the New Small Airplane replacement for the 737.

1. Bombardier announces new orders for the CSeries but still fails to meet market expectations that are waiting for the “big score.” Broadening the customer base doesn’t satisfy analysts.
2. Embraer plays it safe and foregoes a new, small airplane, opting instead for a re-engine and rewing of the E-190/195.
3. Airbus announces increased payload and a larger engine for the A350-1000, touting improvements—but market reception is decidedly cool.


1. “U-Turn” Akbar Al-Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, stands up Airbus at the Paris Air Show at a press conference where he is to announce orders for the A320neo and A380.
2. U-Turn Al takes his complaints about the A350-1000 public at the Paris Air Show.
3. U-Turn Al stands up Airbus at the Dubai Air Show where he is to announce the order that was to come at the Paris Air Show.
4. U-Turn Al throws a hissy-fit at the Dubai Air Show, claiming Airbus doesn’t know how to make airplanes.
5. U-Turn Al u-turns three hours later and announces the Airbus orders at the Dubai Air Show.
6. U-Turn Al embarrasses Boeing by forcing Cargolux, in which Qatar has a one-third ownership, to cancel delivery of the first
747-8F two days before a media extravaganza/delivery ceremony that includes a rock band. Delivery occurs a couple of weeks later.
7. Atlas Air cancels three 747-8Fs awaiting delivery due to performance shortfalls.
8. IATA elects U-Turn Al to its board of directors.
9. Airbus pushes back EIS for the A350-800/1000 by two years and announces a dix month delay for the A350-900.
10. Boeing is forced to shelve the 737 replacement and proceed with a re-engined 737 MAX after American Airlines defects to Airbus. A clearly uncomfortable Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, has to share the podium with a bubbly John Leahy and Tom Enders as Airbus announces its A320/A320neo order with American.
11. American Airlines finally succumbs and files for Chapter 11 protection under the bankruptcy code.

3 thoughts on “Highs and Lows in Commercial Aviation in 2011

  1. Mr. al Baker certainly made news in 2011. I just read yesterday where Qatar’s SWF just upped their stake in Lagardere to over 10%. Is it possible that we may see al Baker on the EADS board someday?

  2. AI: 8. IATA elects U-Turn Al to its board of directors.
    Aurora: Is it possible that we may see al Baker on the EADS board someday?

    U-Turn Al , the series 😉
    he certainly gives some aeration to unknown nooks and crannies.

    AI: 10: NSA shelved.

    I don’t think so.
    If anything the projected timeframe was streched into the future. IMHO I don’t even think that happened. Contrary to what Boeing tried to impress on the general public a viable timeline for the NSA always pointed to an EIS much further into the future than insinuated.
    Airbus assayed the risk to the NEO via a close up following NSA by Boeing as negligible. Once the market made this view their own by ordering the NEO in large, then unprecedented numbers Boeings house of cards folded and the 737 reengine was a must. This gives a range of tech (design details and production technology) time to mature into a usefull state to allow a significant efficiency step up for all parties involved.

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