B787 weight concerns hit Boeing, Airbus secures more orders – Suppliers Share Wrap

Boeing’s share price is being dragged down by concerns that the company’s new B787, which has just entered its test programme, is significantly overweight.

Shortly before the aircraft’s maiden test flight, the manufacturer released documentation that the B787’s maximum takeoff weight (MOTW) had increased by 9.25 tons. Some analysts downgraded the company to 'sell' on the basis of the news.

Boeing does not release empty weights of aircraft during testing, but the increase in take-off weight has sparked commentary that the aircraft’s basic structure may have gained weight, which may harm its promised increases in operational efficiency.

Most designs gain weight during the development programme, and Boeing last released a MTOW for the B787 more than two years ago. The question of whether the aircraft will meet its performance targets will be answered over 2010, as it goes through the test programme.

Meanwhile, Airbus’ (and by extension, EADS) excellent December continues, with China Eastern Airlines ordering 16 A330s. This follows on from 15 A330s ordered by Malaysia Airlines and 30 A320s ordered by LAN this month.

Based on known orders, Airbus’ Dec-2009 total is at least 61, and its gross orders for the year have climbed to at least 286, not far short of its full-year target of 300. The past two months have seen swelling orders for the manufacturer, with 74 aircraft (including 52 A320s to an undisclosed customer) ordered in Nov-2009. If firm ordering continues into early 2010, speculation could be put to rest that the manufacturer will cut narrowbody production rates in 2H2010.

In trading, EADS gained just 0.1% on Monday, while Boeing was down 0.6%. Embraer was up 1.2%.

COMAC breaks ground on C919 facility

Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) commenced construction of its new C919 production facility in Shanghai yesterday, another milestone in getting China’s first large passenger aircraft into production.

The first stage of the facility will cover 270,000 sqm and will include a associated logistics, materials testing and flight testing stations. Phase I will be constructed by 2012. The facility will ultimately expand to 1.2 million sqm.

The Shanghai facility is expected to be able to produce 20 C919s and 50 of the smaller ARJ-21s p/a by 2016. It is one of two major facilities for the C919 programme, which will both be operated by Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Co, a subsidiary of COMAC.

UAC suspends SSJ-100 deliveries

Meanwhile, Russia’s latest major aircraft programme, the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ-100) has suffered another setback, with United Aircraft Corporation, the state-owned aircraft manufacturing conglomerate, announcing an indefinite suspension of deliveries.

The reason is a delay in the engines, manufactured in cooperation between Russian company, Saturn, and France’s SAFRAN. Speaking to the Moscow Times, UAC Director, Alexei Fyodorov, stated the engine makers have “shifted the timetable of certification” for the engine, resulting in an indefinite suspension of deliveries.

The SSJ-100 has more than 150 firm orders, most of them from airlines in Russia and Eastern Europe, but its development has been troubled, with deliveries already delayed by more than 12 months.

Sukhoi is now talks with airlines that have ordered the aircraft and is establishing a new delivery timetable.

Selected Aviation suppliers’ daily share price movements (% change): 28-Dec-2009