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What is Qatar’s CEO, Akbar Al-Baker, up to?

The unpredictable Al-Baker, who has achieved the nickname U-Turn Al for his ability to pivot 180 degrees at a moment’s notice, seems to like the limelight in the press with his bombastic behavior.

In his latest interview, he takes on Boeing and Bombardier.

His frustration with Boeing is understandable. With a major order for the 787, Qatar is adversely affected by the repeated delays in the program and the continuing uncertainty over the delivery schedule.

His public criticism of Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney is mysterious–and may fall into the category of public posturing.

But first, how did Al-Baker earn the nickname U-Turn Al?

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Here’s a fascinating unfolding story – Boeing says there is no customer “pushing us to re-engine”.   The story, by Seattle P-I’s Aubrey Cohen, also links to a story by Bloomberg that speaks pretty clearly about how Boeing’s two major 737 customers feel.  Based on what we heard at Southwest’s Media Day last week, it appears to us there is a disconnect between Boeing and a key customer. Continue reading

Rolls-Royce is facing major challenges in the future, including being shut out of the single-aisle engine market.

In a syndicated article picked up today by the India Times (the original ran about two weeks ago out of London), the dilemma facing Rolls is well laid out.

The last purely Rolls single-aisle engine to be produced was for the Boeing 757. The V2500 engine for the A320 family is a joint venture with Rolls, Pratt & Whitney, MTU and a Japanese company through International Aero Engines (IAE). Rolls also produced the engine for the Boeing 717, nee MD-95 of McDonnell Douglas, in a JV with BMW, an unsuccessful venture that ended when Boeing discontinued the 717 following the merger with MDC. Rolls also built the Tay engine used on the Fokker 100 and the re-engine of the 727-100 for express carrier UPS.

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As the aviation world waits for Airbus to decide whether it will re-engine the Airbus A320 family with (as expected) the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan and the CFM International Leap-X, little thought has been given to the advantage PW will have with its GTF.

There has been plenty of debate whether the GTF technology or the more traditional Leap-X approach is the better answer. Engineers and pundits will be arguing about this until there are years of service and experience from which to draw definitive conclusions. And this is where PW will have an advantage.

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