Review of 2012 - Near Misses

We recall 2012’s highlights, lowlights, near misses and power plays, and bid some fond farewells.

 © French air force/Tim Bicheno-Brown


Fighter contract signings in India, the UAE South Korea and Brazil remained on hold, keeping tens of billions of dollars in spending on hold. Brazil and South Korea both planned to downselect to a single bidder, but ultimately postponed their decision and, for Brazil, not for the first time. India and the UAE had already selected the Dassault Rafale, but continued to drag out negotiations over the final price.


 © Mitsubishi Aircraft


First flights are always risky to schedule – 2012 proved no different. Bombardier and Mitsubishi were forced to postpone maiden sorties of their CSeries and Mitsubishi Regional Jets. Both rescheduled the milestone event for 2013 – CSeries in the second quarter and MRJ in the fourth quarter. And the latter programme’s schedule slip did not prevent Skywest’s commitment to buy 100 MRJ90s under a deal disclosed at the Farnborough air show.


 © RexFeatures industries


Of all the industry moves that might have occurred in 2012, the collapse of merger talks between EADS and BAE Systems (led by, respectively, Tom Enders, above, and Ian King) arguably had the most far-reaching effects – even in failure. Within a month, EADS member states agreed on a financial restructuring that required the principal governments to give up veto rights.


 © AirTeamImages


In December, Delta Air Lines finally purchased 40 Bombardier CRJ900 regional jets with options for 30 more. But there was still little to show for the grand hopes of Bombardier and Embraer, which expected US carriers to sign orders for as many as 450 76-seat jets in 2012 to replace the oldest tranche of 50-seaters in service since the early 1990s.


 © AirTeamImages


Against the backdrop of a change in leadership in late June, Boeing’s commercial division adopted a more cautious approach to launching new products. While former sector president Jim Albaugh seemed ready to immediately launch the 777X, his successor Ray Conner proved far more cautious. Consequently, a launch decision has been delayed until perhaps 2014, with entry into service not expected until 2020 at the earliest.

Flight International 14 February 2012

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