Rumors and Innuendos – Farnborough Edition


LONDON — Good Morning America, Good Afternoon Europe! Before things really kick off in the next fews days I wanted to outline what may (or may not) happen at the show. As I peer into my magic eight-ball, here’s what I’ve come up with.

L to R: Asiana, British Airways, China Southern, Etihad, Emirates, Gulf Air, ILFC, Qatar, Shanghai

*Fly Dubai not included

The A350 XWB and A320 are likely to have a very good week. Asiana is very likely to settle their mid-size wide body order, which will probably be split between 787s and A350s. The A380/747 battle should be wrapped up by year’s end, so likely nothing above 350 seats for Asiana on this go-round. The A350 XWB should see a new leasing customer as well.

Once again, we’re looking at a heavily Gulf weighted orderbook for both Airbus and Boeing. Emirates is likely to book an order with Airbus. I doubt it’s more A380, so filling the gap until the A350-900 arrives would point to A330s as an interim aircraft to go along with it’s large fleet of 777-300ERs which were topped up at Dubai last November. Qatar and Airbus press conference planned and unless they’re adding more A380s, this order could be on the other end of the capacity spectrum with A320s. Though, if the order is for narrow body aircraft, this could be a sizable blow for Bombardier which is hoping that Qatar will be a launch customer for CSeries. Other signs point to Etihad making a big narrow and wide body order which could be split between Airbus and Boeing. Gulfair will likely be a widebody order and they could probably get Airbus to give them an A340-600.

777F will be part of Monday’s events though not until late in the day with first flight coming late Monday in the UK. As far as 777 orders go at the show, British Airways might be the only major European airline to book an order if those 777-300ERs pan out.

With four orders to go until the 787 officially breaks the 900 mark, what are the chances of seeing 1000 this week? Boeing hasn’t announced a 787 customer since April and they’ve always said they don’t hold orders for big air shows unlike Airbus, but 1000 is a far sexier number than 900. Orders from Asiana, Etihad and ILFC could push it above 1000, though an order for 23 and 35 787s for unidentified customers could be one or two of those three airlines. At the very least, I’d put my money on being well into 900 by the end of next week.

Keep an eye out here on Monday and Tuesday morning for coverage of Scott Carson and Pat Shanahan’s briefings respectively.

On the narrow-body side Boeing’s order book has 296 unidentified ordersfor 737s with 10 orders greater than 10 with half of those above 30. If it hasn’t already been booked, the new UAE low cost carrier Fly Dubai is likely kicking off with a massive narrow body order for 737s or A320s.

Permit me for a moment to stretch the imagination a bit here, but what if the BoCo surprises everyone with a new narrow body concept? Airlines have been screaming for a new aircraft in the 120-200 seat category, but Boeing has been pushing incremental improvements like lighter weight interiors on the 737 and keeping their cards close to their vest. Airbus, by contrast, has been quite out front with upgrades to the A320 family with the potential of a GTF engine and winglets.

Is this Boeing’s chance to blast ahead in this market with a major surprise? The new 2008 Current Market Forecast calls for a transition to larger, more fuel efficient aircraft. With this in mind, wouldn’t a 737-700 to 757-200 range/capacity market be ripe for the picking. It would snuff CSeries in its debut, though there are plenty of reasons why this isn’t happening, but I’m musing.

If we assume for a moment that launching a product in the downside of a cycle is the way to be first out of the gate when the industry takes off again then Farnborough could be quite interesting.

The last big air show, Singapore, Bombardier used the last big show (Singapore) to receive authorization to offer the CSeries, the company could use Farnborough to launch the aircraft officially. Bombardier is clearly pushing ahead with design work and development of the new high and hot 130XT indicates that at least one customer is pushing for these requirements.

So who is the likely launch customer? Signs point to China Southern and Shanghai, who are rumored to be meeting the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) on July 14 to receive authorization to purchase the the type, however, of the four initially identified customers, only Qatar is in a financial position to make a big investment right now.

Also, Bombardier will select a final assembly location for CSeries by July 15 (Tuesday). Mirabel, outside of Montreal, is competing with Kansas City, Missouri for the CSeries final assembly facility.

As one last note on the CSeries (and MRJ) front, the GTF should be making its first flight on the 747SP test bed next week too.

Also, I would not be surprised in the slightest if we see the CRJ1000 fly this week as well.

We should be seeing more about the Legacy 450 & 500. Which would fit in their overall strategy for biz jets. Of the entire B.A.B.E., Embraer may be in the most solid position with record backlog, orders and deliveries coming out of Sao Jose dos Campos. Though, questions of complacency could be fair game if CSeries goes live and Boeing and Airbus begin to add definition to replacement studies.

One Response to Rumors and Innuendos – Farnborough Edition

  1. Wiccan Supplies July 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    Great post!