Thursday, 28 April 2011

Saj Ahmad got it wrong (again) on Pratt & Whitney GTF

Saj Ahmad's 10 Aug 2010, "analysis" via GLG (through Google News) is so laughable it deserves to be reproduced in its entirety. Fact Checker's Fact Checks follow.

Pratt & Whitney may end up a big loser if either re-engining doesn’t happen or if it is blocked out on a new narrowbody. 
  1. CFM International is under pressure to find another platform for the LEAP-X engine, but being aligned with the COMAC C919 means that they will have less to worry about than Pratt & Whitney.
  2. Pratt & Whitney has to develop three different fan and core engines for the Mitsubishi MRJ, the Irkut MC-21 and the Bombardier CSeries. That’s three times more risk than CFM is taking on. Further, any re-engine efforts by Airbus and Boeing would mean a fourth engine needs to be developed and would not be available until at least 2016, by Pratt & Whitney’s own admission.
  3. The MC-21 will struggle to sell beyond Russia and the MRJ can still be usurped by Embraer, who are rightly playing their cards close to their chest right now. The CSeries, as we all know, has been a six year long disaster yet to turn any corner (if ever). The C919, being a different animal may not sell well, if at all beyond the Chinese border, but in sheer unit terms, it will outsell and out deliver its nearest rivals in the CSeries and MC-21 combined.
  4. If Boeing re-engines the 737, the fact that the LEAP-X engine can fit with less headaches (and cost) than previously thought, Pratt & Whitney would be isolated from one of the big two OEMs. It cannot hope to recoup its engine investments on the marginalised MRJ-MC-21-CSeries triumvirate. Even if Pratt & Whitney is selected by Airbus (who want the GTF engine through the IAE consortium), they will be pitted directly against the LEAP-X. There are hardcore A320 customers who will not operate anything other than CFM engines – for Pratt & Whitney to make them switch will be an arduous task if not outright miraculous since the LEAP-X exists.
  5. Pratt & Whitney’s capital outlay for (potentially) four new engines against one CFM engine will be difficult to cover, especially if within a decade the move to a clean sheet replacement emerges – does Pratt & Whitney have the financial and engineering resources to partake? Probably, but that doesn’t mean they can deliver – the woeful PW4098 and PW6000 engines are proof of that.
  6. And while Pratt & Whitney’s partner in the IAE consortium, Rolls-Royce, continues to deride the benefits of the (essentially four decade old) geared turbofan design, the U.K engine maker is believed to favour the airline view of going toward a new narrowbody design ahead of re-engining the current A320 and 737 families.
  7. Pratt & Whitney is certainly back into the market and has made its presence felt, but the love isn’t being shared by everyone in the industry. The company is already dead in the large airplane market and its success in the narrowbody market is at the mercy of its competitors and their offerings.
  8. With CFM International at relative ease knowing that the C919 will be a hot seller post-Zhuhai Air Show, Pratt & Whitney may yet be marginalised all over again because of its alignment to products whose own longevity is questionable.

Fact Checker's Fact Checks
Going down Ahmad's "analysis" point-by-point:
Summary: Airbus has more than 300 orders for the A320/321neo and so far every customer who has chosen an engine has selected the Pratt & Whitney GTF. With Boeing putting off proceeding with a new airplane for another year or two, there is little to worry about for Pratt. Boeing says it likes what it sees in the GTF.
  1. CFM "has less to worry about than Pratt". This is another of Ahmad's fitting the situation to suit his purposes. As another one of Fact Checker's posts revealed, Ahmad runs hot and cold on C919 depending on his point of the day.
  2. Pratt's GTF core is scalable; Ahmad completely overstates the risk. Furthermore, one needs to remember that nothing Ahamd has written suggests he has talked with any independent, knowledgeable engineers--rather, it seems his information is derived from his small circle of nay-sayers.
  3. The MC-21 has sold to Malaysia and in fact has more sales than the C919. Ahmad once again gets his facts wrong on the CSeries launch date: it was launched in 2008; 2010 minus 2008 is, by anyone's math except Ahamd's, two years not six. Ahmad also wrote the C919 will sell well at least within China. Keep this thought in mind.
  4. "Pratt won't make CFM customers switch to GTF because Leap-X is available." Don't count on this.
  5. Sheer speculation that, in fairness to Ahmad, will takes years to provie right or wrong.
  6. Considering this had been in the press for months before Ahmad wrote this "analysis", this is hardly a sage opinion.
  7. This is a baffling statement that defies rationality or fact checking.
  8. "The C919 will be a hot-seller post Zhuhai Air Show". See Fact Checker's previous post in which Ahmad ran down the C919 just 30 days later. Also, the C919 had disappointing sales at the Zhuhai air show in November (only 55 firm orders) and none since.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Saj Ahmad and Fleetbuzz: getting it wrong on airline analysis

Saj Ahmad has been a regular contributor to the Arabian Supply Chain website, and is often called by certain Middle Eastern press to provide analysis and commentary on airline matters in the Middle East.

But his track record at Arabian Supply isn't any better than his track record on matters involving Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, and Pratt & Whitney.

Take a look at this one example. It's typical; note the comments by readers. Another example, also ar Arabian Supply Chain, is also the subject of a "Fact Check". Or this one, in which Ahmad once more misrepresents the facts about the CSeries. The readers justifiably challenge Ahmad on this "analysis."

His column touting the COMAC C919 is another episode in the Saj Ahmad and Fleetbuzz industry comedy show. While he praises the C919 here, in other columns--including on his now-hidden Fleetbuzz Editorial--he's dismissed the C919 threat to Boeing. He can't even keep his own opinions straight.

Ahmad has this to say about the C919:

“China may well have broken the barriers to entry and emerge as a viable rival to Airbus and Boeing, but given that it has based the ARJ21 on an old design and the C919 is more than likely a rehash of a reverse-engineered Airbus A320 – China has to find a way of producing airplanes that it can sell en masse beyond its borders.

"Airbus and Boeing already have great relationships with many carriers – will these airlines really support a state producer if Airbus and Boeing already fit the bill for them?

"Unlikely. What China needs is innovation, not emulation. Right now their aerospace activities bear a striking and scary resemblance to their carmakers, who have plagiarized many cars by bigger and better automakers.” Sept. 11, 2009.

It hardly gets more harsh than that. Or more contradictory of his own opinions. He may as well be chasing his own tail.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Saj Ahmad and Fleetbuzz wrong again on A320neo

Saj Ahmad, who has been wrong on CSeries and GTF and on Airbus generally, gets it wrong again on the A320neo.

On the very day Airbus held an all-day media briefing on the neo, Ahmad publsihed (for invitees only) a piece headlined "A320neo may be scrapped?"

This merely continues his long-running theme that the neo programme is doomed--except when he wants to use the neo to make his ridiculous and wholly unsupported (and unsupportable) claim that the neo kills the business case for the CSeries. His back-and-forth demonstrates that either he can't seem to make up his mind or he changes his opinions on a whim to advance his tenuous theories and agenda.

As recently as 26 January, Ahmad wrote that "Airbus’ decision to pursue the A320neo could prove to be a very short-lived affair." Then just five days later, on 1 February, he wrote another one of his bash-the-CSeries pieces in which he claimed the launch of the A320neo programme kills the CSeries. Now he headlines a post suggesting the neo programme may be scrapped.

Which is it, Saj? The neo will be a short-lived affair or the neo kills the CSeries? If the neo is short-lived or scrapped, then there is no programme to affect the CSeries. Or the neo kills the CSeries, which means it won't be short-lived or scrapped.

That's not all. On 17 January--just two weeks before he says the neo will be short-lived--he writes that the neo means Boeing can't do nothing about the 737 future. "The 737 is still a winner until the A320neo arrives," the sage "analyst" writes in his 17 January post.

"For right or wrong, the A320neo has irrevocably changed the competitive landscape. No longer is it a proposition – its real and also stands a good chance of taking a slice of the pie at Delta Airlines’ most recent narrowbody RFP," he writes in that post.

His whirly-durvey pirouettes are enough to make your head spin. He could give a ballet dancer lessons.

Flightglobal reports from the Airbus neo briefing that John Leahy expects more than 500 orders by Paris Air Show (Saj, how do you explain your view the programme will be short-lived or cancelled?), and the GTF will be the lead engine, at least 9 months and "no more than a year" ahead of Saj's favorite, the CFM Leap-X (boy that GTF is a "bad" engine, isn't it, Saj?). Aviation Week said Airbus is "confident" in the GTF engine offer and the ability to advance the neo introduction six months to October 2015.

Indigo, Lufthansa validate PW GTF, throwing out Saj Ahmad's persistent (and unsupported) criticisms

Indigo Airlines last week announced an order for 300 P&W GTF engines for its previously announced order of 150 Airbus A320neos and yesterday Luftansa announced that it selected the GTF for its order for 30 neos.

This puts to rest the persistent (and unsupported) criticism by Saj Ahmad and Fleetbuzz Editorial about the GTF.
Here is the press release about the Lufthansa order and for the Indigo order.

Jon Ostrower had a story last week about the Indigo order.

While Ahmad continues to whinge on about Pratt & Whitney "double digit" fuel savings and his allegations that P&W isn't specific about fuel and cost savings, CEO David Hess last week was widely quoted from the media day about 16% fuel savings and 20% maintenance costs savings.

Ahmad's long-standing (and unsupported) criticism about the GTF is amply illustrated in this laughable GLG posting of his (which was largely replicated on Fleetbuzz Editorial) from April 2010.

Fact Check has no doubt that Ahmad will find a way to fault these two orders. But it's clear the industry is endorsing the GTF, regardless of Ahmad's past (unsupported) bias against the engine.