SCOTTSDALE - The International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading has significantly cemented itself as the closest thing the industry has to a US air show. The two-day conference avoids the static aircraft displays and sprawling exhibition halls, opting for a cattle auction-style format that sees airframers, engine-makers and lessors addressing the assembled delegates.
With nearly all of commercial aircraft purchases financed in one form or another, the importance of third-parties in how the industry funds itself makes the gathering one of year's most news-worthy events. Like any big aerospace industry gathering, each tends to be a measure of instantaneous speed, not a barometer of future events.
2011 was no different.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh in March 2011:
While we haven't ruled out a re-engine, but it's very difficult for us to put together a very compelling business case to do it. And right now, we're looking at a number of different options and we're working with many of you, our customers, we're looking at things like, what are the complexity issues are as we would introduce a new airplane to a fleet. One thing Southwest has taught us the last few years is: do not add complexity to what we do. And if we do do a new airplane, we have to be very cognizant of not requiring a lot of new training, investment of capital to make things as repeatable as we can and make this airplane as transparent in terms of introduction into service as we can.
I think the other thing we'll be looking at very hard is the residual values. Let's not do anything to make what out customers investment in worth less than it is today. Our customers tell us what they want is a game-changing airplane. They want an airplane that will give them a fuel burn that is twice as good as what they might get with a re-engine. They're telling us they want a cash operating cost reduction of well in the double digits and we're working on that, but I think we'll be producing the 737 NG for another 15 to 20 years, I really believe that.
Airbus vice president of Marketing Andrew Shankland in March 2011:
The aircraft is on time, the -900 enters service in 2013, the -800 in 2014 and the -1000 in 2015. And the engine thrust that we have available from Rolls-Royce today is certainly sufficient to power the A350-1000. There are always, let's say, discussions with customers regarding potential changes to any aircraft in the future, but when you haven't yet hit the detailed definition phase, so that's not the case, we are there with the -900, we're not yet there with the -1000. But I would like to dispel any rumors regarding, sort of: is the -1000 capable of doing the mission as advertised for not, and the answers is "it certainly is" with the current airframe design and the current engine from our engine partner Rolls-Royce.
What a difference a year makes.