January 27, 2023

Boeing Asks for Beacon Checks on Up to 1,200 Jets

The blaze caused serious damage to the jet owned by Ethiopian Airlines at London’s Heathrow on July 12.

Between 1,100 and 1,200 Boeing aircraft of all sizes have been fitted with the beacons, but Boeing is asking that airlines inspect as many as possible and report back within 10 days to help regulators decide what action to take, if any.

“Boeing is asking specific operators of 717, Next-Generation 737, 747-400, 767 and 777s to inspect aircraft with the Honeywell fixed emergency locator transmitters,” a Boeing spokesman said in an emailed statement late on Sunday.

“The purpose of these inspections is to gather data to support potential rule-making by regulators,” he added.

British accident investigators traced the fire to the area housing one of the units and recommended worldwide inspections of all lithium battery-powered emergency locator transmitters.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration instructed airlines on Thursday to remove or inspect Honeywell fixed emergency beacons in the model which caught fire, the 787, but has not so far widened its mandatory checks to other models.

The beacons in question are designed to help rescue workers locate aircraft in the event of a crash.

They are installed on approximately 20 types of aircraft, including many Boeing and Airbus passenger jets and several types of business aircraft.

“Boeing’s recommendation of fleet-wide checks of the Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) suggests that Boeing thinks it is not a 787 problem, but an ELT problem,” said Paul Hayes, director of safety at UK-based aviation consultancy Ascend.

The July 12 fire reawakened concern in the industry about Boeing’s advanced carbon-composite Dreamliner, which was grounded for more three months this year after two incidents involving overheated lithium-ion batteries.

The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the London fire was not related to those batteries.

AIRBUS REVIEW

Airbus said it would carry out a review of the way the emergency beacons are installed onboard its planes, but stopped short of asking airlines to inspect them across its fleet.

“Our records do not show any incidents of this nature,” a spokesman for the European planemaker said.

“However, as a precautionary measure, we will do an additional review of the integration of the device in order to determine whether there is a need to apply any lessons from the AAIB findings,” the spokesman said.

The fire on the Ethiopian-owned jet broke out after it had been parked for eight hours at a remote airport stand.

It caused extensive damage in the rear of the plane and scorched the top of the outer skin of the fuselage.

Japan’s ANA Holdings Inc, which operates the world’s biggest fleet of Dreamliners, said last week it found damage to the battery wiring on two 787 beacons during checks.

Damage was slight, but the beacons have been sent to Honeywell for inspection, ANA said.

Qatar Airways meanwhile denied that one of its Dreamliners had caught fire after industry sources said smoke had been reported near an electrical panel, while the plane was on the ground in Doha.

The aircraft has not flown since July 21, according to web tracking data, an unusually long downtime for an active jet.

“I can unequivocally say that there was no fire. It was just a minor issue, not even an incident. We’re working with Boeing to get it fixed very soon,” an airline spokeswoman said.

No timeline for the repair was available.

Boeing declined to comment.

(Additional reporting by Tim Kelly and Regan Doherty; editing by Stephen Coates and Tom Pfeiffer)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/07/29/business/29reuters-boeing-dreamliner-airbus.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Aircraft Makers Shy Away From Risky Bets in Building New Planes

Boeing’s announcement last week that it had begun pitching airlines on an enhanced version of its 777 jet, rather than a whole new plane, underscores how the aerospace industry is pulling back from the risky bets that have led to costly, and humbling, delays on other planes, like Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Instead of following the Dreamliner template, in which it sought to create a revolutionary plane brimming with new technology, Boeing is now seeking a safer, more incremental path. It plans to add the most crucial new technologies, like lightweight plastic composite wings and more fuel-efficient engines, to the 777, while avoiding the time and expense of designing a replacement from scratch.

Airbus, too, has expressed concern about the “go for broke” mentality that prompted Boeing to fill the Dreamliner with novel features, including a greater use of composites and a more advanced electrical system to increase the fuel savings.

After smoke and fire erupted from the new lithium-ion batteries on two 787s in January, forcing the grounding of the entire fleet, Airbus dropped its plans to use the volatile batteries on its new A350 jets and went back to more tried-and-true ones.

“Risk, risk, risk,” Tom Enders, the chief of Airbus’s parent company, European Aeronautic Defense and Space, said of Boeing’s approach to the Dreamliner.

Mr. Enders said Airbus had made similar mistakes in designing some of the components on its latest planes. “It’s pushing the technology envelope and not always taking enough care that the technologies were mature when we put them on an aircraft,” he said. “And that doesn’t benefit the customer, obviously.”

Aviation analysts said Boeing had to make a technological leap with the Dreamliner over the last decade to again surpass Airbus in total plane sales, just as it now has to upgrade the 777, its long-range workhorse, to counter a new challenge from the A350.

But while Boeing needed to take radical steps, like molding the entire fuselage of the Dreamliner out of the plastic composites to cut fuel costs by 20 percent, it can achieve similar fuel savings on the 777 by using advanced engines and adding huge composite wings to a metal frame.

The prospect of gaining such savings with a more cautious approach delights both the airlines and Boeing’s investors, who would love to see it complete the development process without the kind of white-knuckle ride — or the extra billions in cash — that the Dreamliner required.

W. James McNerney Jr., Boeing’s chief executive, said recently that “we all remember the times of fighting through the 787 development where the technologies weren’t quite as mature as we hoped they’d be.” He said the company’s strategy in updating the larger 777, and creating two additional versions of the 787, was to “harvest some hard-fought gains” in that technology without taking such big risks.

Mr. McNerney said the new version of the 777, which is still subject to final approval by Boeing’s board, would include much more substantial improvements than most planes derived from existing ones and could be ready by the end of the decade. “So I think we may be in an era where we can absorb somewhat less risk and still deliver a lot of performance,” he added.

The company’s plans for the updated 777, known as the 777X, are also significant because it could be the last new model that Boeing builds before the 2030s. And the updating is not risk-free: advances in engine technology can prove difficult, and the composite wings on the new 777 will be wider and more complicated to fabricate than those on the 787.

Boeing’s efforts to seek advance orders for the plane will also set off an intense new phase in its rivalry with Airbus, one determined more by how efficiently each company can produce the planes than their visions.

“Airbus squandered a decade on the A380,” a gigantic jet that has had disappointing sales, said Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va. Boeing, he added, lost the advantage with its troubles on the 787. With the A350, which also has a composite body and wings, he said, “what’s important is that Airbus is catching up.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/business/aircraft-makers-shy-away-from-risky-bets-in-building-new-planes.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Improved Sales Help Boeing Beat Forecasts

Boeing on Wednesday exceeded profit expectations for the second quarter as a result of more plane sales, a development that helped it raise its 2011 earnings guidance.

The company said it remained on track to deliver its first 787 Dreamliner passenger jet and 747-8 air freighter in the third quarter.

But Boeing, based in Chicago, also narrowed its delivery forecast for the new models. It now expects to deliver a total of 25 to 30 of them this year, compared with its previous expectation of 25 to 40.

Still, that projection was trimmed less than many analysts had anticipated. And the increase in plane deliveries in the second quarter helped drive a rebound in that part of Boeing’s business, which had slipped behind its military work in total revenue and profit.

W. James McNerney Jr., Boeing’s chief executive, told analysts that the company’s decision to install new engines on its single-aisle 737 jets, rather than build a new version of the plane, evolved over the last two to three months.

The decision was unveiled in an unusual fashion last week, when American Airlines announced that it would split a $38 billion plane order between Boeing, its longtime supplier, and Airbus, Boeing’s European rival.

Airbus announced several months ago that it would redesign its A320 models to accommodate more fuel-efficient engines. Boeing executives had said publicly that they were leaning toward building a new plane by 2020.

But Mr. McNerney told the analysts on Wednesday that two things had changed in Boeing’s calculations.

With Airbus quickly picking up orders for the plane with new engines, American and other airlines made it clear to Boeing that they would rather have “greater certainty in the midterm” on fuel savings than wait for “the more perfect solution,” Mr. McNerney said.

He said that Boeing’s studies also showed that it would be riskier than previously expected to set up a production system for an entirely new plane, especially given that production rates have been surging for the single-aisle jets.

Mr. McNerney said that Boeing believed that new engines would yield 10 to 12 percent in fuel savings on the 737s. Boeing officials said the changes could enable the 737 to retain what Boeing claims is an 8 percent advantage in total operating costs over the A320, even after that plane has new engines as well.

Boeing has announced plans to expand 737 production to 42 planes a year by 2014. Mr. McNerney said that the order backlog was so substantial that Boeing was likely to increase that to 50 or 60 planes by the end of the decade.

Boeing reported that its earnings increased 20 percent to $941 million, or $1.25 a share, from $787 million, or $1.06 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 6 percent to $16.5 billion from $15.6 billion. Analysts had expected Boeing to earn 97 cents a share.

The company raised its earnings forecast for all of 2011 to $3.90 to $4.10 a share. Its earlier forecast was $3.80 to $4 a share.

The company’s stock rose 47 cents to $70.63, on a day when the overall market was down sharply.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=bb2d0baf0fe2e3de43b66e8732eaede3

W.T.O. Rules U.S. Subsidies for Boeing Unfair

Washington said it was considering an appeal of the ruling, the latest in a long-running dispute between the two largest commercial plane makers.

In an 850-page report, the Geneva-based trade body accepted a claim by the European Union that research and development grants provided by United States space programs contributed substantially to the technologies used in building the 787, Boeing’s latest flagship aircraft. But it said the amount of prohibited support amounted to a fraction of the more than $19 billion dating back to the late 1980s that Brussels had originally challenged.

Ron Kirk, the United States trade representative, said Washington disagreed with the W.T.O. panel’s findings and was studying options for appeal. He stressed that roughly half of the subsidies condemned by the W.T.O. had been previously remedied by changes in American policy, noting that the panel had recommended the United States withdraw just $2.7 billion in aid to Boeing.

The European Union hailed the W.T.O’s decision as a “landmark ruling.” Karel De Gucht, the bloc’s trade commissioner, called on Washington to “take the appropriate steps that may assist to achieve a mutually agreed solution to this dispute.”

European supporters of Airbus had focused much of their complaint on research contracts that Boeing received from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Pentagon since the late 1970s to develop lightweight carbon composite materials that the manufacturer subsequently used in the design of the Dreamliner. As much as 50 percent of the 787’s primary structure, including the fuselage and wings, is made of composite materials, more than any other large civil aircraft.

Mr. Kirk said $2.6 billion of the subsidies that the panel found were from NASA and that the Pentagon contributed only $110 million. 

In addition, he said, 20 of the 23 claims about Pentagon contracts were rejected, with the panel ruling that they were legitimate procurement contracts rather than research grants. 

In its report, which was submitted confidentially to American and European trade negotiators at the end of January, the W.T.O. largely agreed that, “absent the aeronautics RD subsidies, Boeing would not have been able to launch an aircraft incorporating all of the technologies that are incorporated in the 787.”

It also found that Boeing’s introduction of the 787 program in 2004 had forced Airbus to lower the price of its A330 wide-body aircraft to maintain market share. However, it rejected the claim that the 787 had an impact on the price that Airbus was able to command for its forthcoming challenger to the 787, the A350-XWB.

Several weeks ago, the United States Defense Department awarded Boeing a $35 billion contract to supply the Air Force with new aerial refueling tankers. Analysts said Boeing’s victory in that contest would probably blunt the sting of the W.T.O.’s findings for Boeing’s supporters in Washington and expressed hope that the two sides would eventually move beyond this dispute toward a negotiated settlement.

“It has not been a very edifying spectacle,” said Nick Cunningham, an aerospace analyst and managing partner at Agency Partners, a London-based consultancy. ”It’s a lot of sound and fury signifying very little.”

In a case decided last June, the W.T.O. found that Airbus had benefited from four decades of improper subsidies to vault past Boeing to become the world’s top jet builder.

That ruling, which has been appealed by both sides, concluded that Airbus had received the subsidies, including $15 billion in loans from European governments at below-market interest rates and several billion dollars in grants, to produce the A380 superjumbo and five other best-selling models. But the W.T.O. stopped short of a wholesale condemnation of government loans — known as “launch aid” — that are repaid largely through export sales.

The W.T.O. is expected to rule on the appeal of that ruling next month.

Airbus said in a statement Thursday that it was pleased with the findings of the W.T.O. report but that it expected the European Union to appeal a number of issues relating to legal interpretation.

Analysts said they hoped the publication of the report would bring an epic battle over subsidies in the aircraft industry to a close and eventually pave the way for new set of ground rules among the world’s makers of large civil aircraft — a field that has grown substantially since the United States and European governments began their dispute nearly seven years ago.

Embraer of Brazil and Bombardier of Canada, which for decades have specialized in smaller jets with fewer than 100 seats, have begun to develop larger planes with the range and capacity approaching that of the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737 — single-aisle planes that are the bread and butter of most of the world’s airlines. Mitsubishi of Japan and United Aircraft of Russia also expect to build planes that can carry up to 200 passengers around the middle of this decade, while China’s C919 jet is projected to enter commercial service in 2016.

Last month, the Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair — which currently operates a fleet of 250 Boeing 737s — confirmed it was talking with the Chinese and Russians, as well as Boeing and Airbus, about future jet orders.

“It’s no longer a bipolar world,” said Mr. Cunningham of Agency Partners. “You can’t go down this puritanical road of no government funding for aerospace. You have five up-and-coming competitors who aren’t going to play that game.”

Single-aisle jets are expected to represent more than half of the roughly $3.6 trillion in anticipated new aircraft sales over the next 20 years, according to industry estimates.

Christopher Drew contributed reporting from New York.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=9aeaf8780b2657267106fd7fb1cb33a7