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Boeing is still obfuscating regarding a 737 replacement, while increasing production rates for the existing models. Two things are clear — the A320neo has a significant economic advantage over the current 737NG series and is selling quite well, and that the 737NG will face increasing competition from the A320neo, Bombardier CSeries, COMAC’s C919, Irkut’s MS-21, and a new model from Embraer that is pending launch based on what Boeing will do.

Of course, when a competitor bases its new product decision on your decision, keeping things close to the vest while working on parallel options is an excellent strategy. Unfortunately for Boeing, market conditions won’t allow that strategy to continue forever.

Boeing has stated that it will not undertake two development programs simultaneously, as it did with 787 and 747-8 — but two aircraft will need replacement – the 737 and 777, each of which is facing new competition from… Continue reading

Just after Addison mused about the C919 model in a Ryanair office in a post yesterday, new reports today indicate that Ryanair will announce cooperation with COMAC in developing the aircraft at the Paris Air Show. Maybe there is something there, after all! Could Ryanair be the launch western customer for a Chinese aircraft?  This could be an interesting play, as Ryanair is a large Boeing customer that was recently rebuffed in an attempt to place a large order for new aircraft at a substantial discount — too substantial for Boeing to agree to.  With the Chinese entering the market with what will almost certainly be a lower cost alternative, using the new CFM LEAP engines that power A320neo, western avionics, and major subsystems from western companies, the C919 could become a viable alternative if it gains credibility with airlines outside of China. Continue reading

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) last week announced that it signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) to provide communications systems for COMAC’s C919.

While final terms are still being negotiated, the LoI allows the parties to immediately begin working on a custom communications solution that will allow passengers use personal mobile devices for phone services and Internet access on board the C919.  Panasonic has teamed with China Electronics Technology Avionics Co. Ltd. (CETCA), which is based in Chengdu.

This is great news for Panasonic and COMAC’s C919.  But one has to wonder – what about the other C919 deals already announced?  It would seem COMAC has a deal with everyone in the IFEC space. In September Rockwell announced it had a deal.  In November it was Thales’ turn to announce a deal.

Each of these LoIs matches a western IFEC vendor with a… Continue reading

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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The Chinese wanted to showcase their emerging aerospace industry at the Zhuhai Air Show this week and leaked that “hundreds” of orders would be forthcoming for the COMAC C919.

Reality fell far short.

On the first day of the show, the Chinese announced 100 “orders” for the airplane, which challenges the Boeing 737-800/900 and the Airbus A320/321. So far, on target. Six customers signed: the Big Three (Air China, China Eastern and China Southern) signed, as expected; Hainan did, too, a surprise, as did China Development Bank (not previously suspected) and GECAS (not previously suspected but no particular surprise, either, given GECAS’ prior order for 5+20 COMAC/AVIC ARJ21 regional jets).

But Aviation Week took a look under the hood, so-to-speak, and discovered the 100 orders were really just a dismal 55 from the six customers.

Continue reading