by Scott Hamilton
November 7, 2022, © Leham News: Boeing is systematically working through the full return of the 737 Max to service, a process that will continue until early 2025 to clear stockpiled inventory. There were 270 MAXs in stock at the end of the third quarter, September 30th.
Delivery of 115 787s that were built but stored during a layoff of nearly 20 months from October 2020 will take two years.
Increasing the production of each line is a slow and laborious process. The 737 line closed in December 2019. The line is now destined to produce 31737s per month, although achieving this target has been erratic.
The 787 line in Everett was closed permanently and the Charleston (SC) line was reduced to just half a plane per month. It will take two years before production returns to 5/month, which was the level at the start of the pandemic and down when deliveries were suspended.
Chief Executive David Calhoun said stability and reliability were the key factors in Boeing’s recovery from the MAX and pandemic crisis that has drained finances and destroyed the credibility of what was once a British pound.
Calhoun also said he had no plans to launch an aircraft program to fill a gap in the production line — a reference to Boeing’s weak position vis-à-vis the Airbus A321neo. Instead, he wants to launch a game-changing aircraft that is at least 20% more efficient than today’s aircraft. He believes that the engines emitted by today’s technology will host only 10%.
He added that Boeing would not launch a new aircraft program until the next decade because the new engine would not be ready until then. He made his remarks on his first investor day since 2018. Three weeks before that, Boeing hosted a meeting with advisors, advisors and opinion makers.
Launching a new plane
“Some of the ways we keep all the experiences of the information we have, how do we keep it, how do we disseminate it to our new people. That’s the strategy for us, the capabilities. Then there will be a moment in time where we’re going to rabbit out of that and introduce a new aircraft sometime in the middle The next decade “There will be a moment in time when we do that,” Calhoun said.
“Airplanes are invented about every 15 years. They aren’t usually invented to fill a niche or a product gap that you think you have relative to wallets. They have to deliver improvement that motivates airlines to want to get them sooner rather than later and displace the planes they are currently on. [have]. “
However, the aircraft will not run on hydrogen. Calhoun doesn’t see the feasibility of this technology for at least another 20 years or more. Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) is where Boeing is placing its bet. Boeing is investing in an eVTOL program called WISK. Acknowledging that batteries are not a solution, Calhoun said Boeing is seeking WISK as a pathway for the FAA to learn its way through single-pilot certification or an independent operation. He said that these options will be included in the upcoming new aircraft.
What about the future?
The industry was united in the conclusion that Boeing needed a new aircraft to compete effectively with Airbus. But Calhoun’s goal of at least 20% better operating economics seems to rule this out. He believes that today’s CFM LEAP and Pratt & Whitney engines will at best only be able to achieve 10% improvements through evolutionary improvements. The RISE Open Fan engine proposed by CFM aims to achieve 20% better economies, an ambitious goal that raises skepticism from within Boeing. The target for CFM to enter service is 2035.
Boeing has given investors its standard ecoAviation plan. SAF and WISK, an electric airlift vehicle in which Boeing is investing, were among the topics highlighted in ecoAviation.
But a lot of this is pie in the sky. Boeing needed a new aircraft that, while able to use SAF, would be a conventional aircraft.
“Our sense is that launching any new aircraft is still many years away, with nearly three years to perfect digital design tools, and the company also needs a new engine to justify building any new aircraft,” wrote an airline analyst at Credit Suisse. In one of his quick remarks issued during an investor conference.
Calhoun’s focus on developing the new engine is well founded. What stands out, however, is any discussion of what Boeing could do about the airframe and wings.
Last June, Boeing’s briefings ahead of the Farnborough Air Show gave hints about advances in airframe and wing design. These ideas can provide a one-time change step for designing a new aircraft. For context, our discussion of the “airframe” includes a new wing as well.
Reach Calhoun’s goal
Mike Sennett, head of product development, said the new airframe could provide half the economic progress needed for a new aircraft.
His statement was remarkable. Publicly, it was known that the airframes would provide only 5% utility while the rest should come from the engines. However, after Sinnet’s comment, LNA He did some checking and knew this was possible.
In other words, using Calhoun’s example of an engine’s 10% economic gain, an innovative new airframe can save 10%. This comes to 20% of Calhoun’s minimum target required for a new aircraft.
How do you get there?
The material used for the fuselage and tail is a contributor. With the Boeing 787, the use of vehicles was a step of change. Advances in materials since then are likely to provide further advances. The design of the 787 wing took another step.
During the same press conference in June, chief engineer Greg Hislop said foldable wings have a future on Boeing aircraft. Airbus has publicly demonstrated concepts with large folding sections of its stand, the Pavilion of Tomorrow. The Boeing 777X features foldable wings. Significantly increasing the length of the fold results in greater wing spans, which improves fuel. Other design improvements are possible to improve economy. In some designs, wing trusses can provide benefits. Boeing has demonstrated these concepts publicly.
Calhoun didn’t mention any of that in his comments, focusing only on the engines.
Technically, it looks like Boeing could achieve Calhoun’s goal even if the engines were evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The other side of the equation is the part that Boeing chooses to pursue first.
Back to normal life
Calhoun and other executives outlined Boeing’s return to normal life, targeting 2025-2026 to achieve that goal. With a free cash flow target of $10 billion by 2026, with incremental improvement along the way, will Boeing wait until the next decade before launching a new aircraft? Will it be launched sooner rather than later? Will it return 100% of its free cash flow to shareholders or will it split cash flow into a much-needed change to its product line?
Calhoun turned 65 in April, which is usually the mandatory retirement age. He obtained a waiver to serve up to 70 (ie until 2027) if both sides wanted.
LNA It is said that one of the topics discussed in the small talk in the social hour is that Boeing may now have a successor on hold that has been identified. Whether Calhoun stayed for the full five years or left early is now a bet.
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