Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Time For A Yard Sale?

It is reported in the Detroit Free Press today that folks in the International Space Station are running into an issue with too much stuff. That's right, where storage space is at a premium, they've more or less run out of it. The space station is filled to the brim with junk, and there's more junk than there is living room. It's gotten so that the folks who are tasked to work in space are having problems finding the stuff that they need to get their work done.

It's a comfort, really, to know that after all this time and effort the folks 'up there' are pretty much like the folks 'down here'. First you can't find something that seems important, then your mate implies that it's early onset Alzheimer's setting in, then you tear everything apart and eventually you find what it is you were looking for, at which point the entire Saturday is wasted and everything's in a helluva mess. You might even proceed to stage two.

Stage Two is when you back the pickup up to the garage and start loading 'er up for a couple runs to the landfill-kinda like what's going to happen next week when the shuttle arrives.

There's going to be a big housecleaning, the result of which is that nothing will have changed all that much. I'm informed by my colleagues with a scientific bent that the natural state of everything is "entropy". Well. I have news for them, and the proof's in-the natural state of the environment when people enter the picture is clutter. It is the inevitable result of the human condition.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Cassandra or Savant? Take Your Pick

Richard Aboulafia, the aviation industry analyst has some hard words to say about the woes that are kicking Airbus in the shins lately.

He's arguing that the managers at Airbus ought to take a hard look at the A380 program and, if the numbers don't add up, killfile the project.

He makes the observation that an awful lot of resource dollars being spent on very large carriers are chasing a pretty small slice of the market by value, and the middle of the market is where Airbus ought to be aiming its engineering dollars and talent.

Now. Either you think Aboulafia is the Great Satan complete with horns and forked tail, and a tool in the pay of a massive conspiracy to take down Airbus, or you think he's a reasonably well informed critic of trends in the aviation industry.

Step Away From the Fuel Truck, Big Boy.

It is rumored that something's going on in Lufthansa that has to do with fuel economy on the A380 and it has to do with whether the fuel consumption is 2.9 or 3.2 liters per passenger per 100 klicks.

Apparently there's a split between what sort of fuel consumption per seat mile was guaranteed and what is actually taking place. This could be due to a number of reasons. If the fuel consumption was predicated on 555 seats, it would of course look better than it does at a more realistic figure of around 500 seats.

As we discussed here in February, the 800 pound gorilla on the coffee table is the fact that there's just not enough excess payload capacity on the Albatross to allow for 555 seats, luggage, cargo and range.

Stay tuned-this could be a big issue if it has legs.

As yet the facts are unclear, and the only information available is a piece in the German edition of Der Spiegel.

Here's the original German.

Aber die Not mit dem A380 ist viel größer: Das Flugzeug ist nach Expertenmeinung zu schwer, verbraucht folglich mehr als die von Airbus zugesagten 2,9 Liter Kraftstoff pro Passagier und 100 Kilometer. Lufthansa geht in seinen Berechnungen von 3,2 Litern aus - immerhin zehn Prozent mehr als vom Hersteller angegeben. "Sollte das Flugzeug im Betrieb mehr als vom Hersteller angegeben verbrauchen, sind Entschädigungszahlungen fällig", sagt ein Branchenkenner. Außerdem rechne Airbus damit, dass es einen Markt für 1200 bis 1500 Flugzeuge vom Typ A380 gibt. Erzrivale Boeing gehe eher von einem Bedarf von 300 oder maximal 400 Exemplaren aus - und liegt damit womöglich näher an der Wirklichkeit.

It translates roughly as:

But the need with the A380 is much bigger: The airplane is too heavy according to expert's opinion, consequently uses more than 2.9 liters promised by airbus of fuel per passenger and 100 kilometers. Lufthansa goes out in his calculations from 3.2 liters - at least ten percent more than from the manufacturer given. " Should the airplane use in the company more than from the manufacturer given, compensation payments are due ", says a branch expert. In addition, airbus calculates one on the fact, that it

Why Do These Guys Think They Can Get Away With It: The Rogues' Gallery

The Prussian Airplane Company is not totally immune from bad news today, either. It was reported that one Robert Rice, Boeing's former director of something called "suppy chain management" was sentenced in federal court to a year in prison and ordered to pay restitution of nearly $300,000 to his former employer.

It seems that Bobby Boy, as his new cellmate calls him, had a company purchasing card that was to be used for projects outside normal purchasing channels. He and another employee by the name of Lisa Hernandez teamed up on the scam. They'd purchase items for themselves on the card. The items they billed to the company included a $52,000 BMW automobile, vacations, home improvements, artwork and jewelry. These folks also set up a phony company to submit bills for training materials and Rice would then withdraw money from the shell company accounts for his own use.

When, oh when, will people learn to keep their hands off things they do not have a right to? I saw a number of people get terminated from Douglas for various and sundry dishonest things, including one guy who got the boot for tossing a bundle of rags over the fence into the back of his truck.

Pay Your Own Way, Fatso: John Mica Speaks

Another bit of bad news for Festung Airbus emerged today as John Mica, chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee said that federa lmoney to upgrade airports in the U.S. to handl;e the A380 Albatross should not be spent, in view of the ongoing row over subsidies that the Festung received and continues to receive to develop aircraft families.

Mr. Mica thinks that unless and until domestic airlines start buying the type, the carriers who want to operate it into the states should be picking up the tab.

I mean, this ain't news here people. I wrote an undergraduate paper in 1990 wherein I opined that it was unlikely that Airbus could ever make any real money. Not much has changed.

Public Cell Phone Morons: Will They Listen?

We were interested, then bemused and then just plain offended at the number of people-predominantly women-who seem to spend inordinate time in public having inane cell phone conversations with unknown parties.

It's a common enough sight and one that imposes altogether too much boredom, delays while we are waiting for the inane conversation to end so that the woman in front of us in the grocery checkout line gets her ass in gear, or drama as her amours are broadcast to strangers who just do not want to hear any more. I clearly remember one woman, nearly in tears in the supermarket over between the cabbages and the red peppers wailing "You never come home anymore!". Way too much drama.

Anyway the Times of London informs us here at the Dougloid Papers that when one wanders out in a thunderstorm having a cell phone conversation, the chances are better than ever that the offender will get one of Jove's thunderbolts right in the offending device and perhaps doing a little electric lobotomy along the way.

All of which has us invoking the weather gods and looking anxiously at the weather radar in the hope of some relief here. Let us all fervently pray for thunderstorms a plenty and people who aren't smart enough to come in out of the rain and shut up.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

No Connection, Really....

It is reported by Reuters today that those wonderful folks at Festung Airbus, the home of mealy mouthed excuses, obfuscation, dilatory conduct, unexplainable delays and shady stock deals in high places.....where was I? Oh yes, I remember.

The boys 'n' girls at the Festung have decided that the way forward is to..........a drum roll, maestro...............raise their prices!

Yes, folks, it's true. The Festung has announced a 4.7 per cent price hike.

A spokesperson (where do they get these people?) says that the price hike has nothing to do with the schedule delays. It's more likely that the Festung needs to raise a bundle of Euros in a hurry to pay down the penalty clauses that are now aimed squarely at its' shorts.

NTSB: Chalk's Maintenance Inadequate?

It is reported in the Miami Herald this afternoon that the National Transportation Safety Board has released documents relating to the crash of a Chalk's seaplane last December 19.

In the report are statements by former employees of the airline that maintenance was neglected and in some cases concerning the aircraft that crashed maintenance records were missing and maintenance procedures used were ineffective or improperly done. Wing repairs were not inspected, improper and undersized fasteners were used and no records were available for major repairs to cracks in the skin.

The jury's just about in, folks. Shit happens, we all know that. But shit happens, in most cases because it was made to happen, or somebody let it happen, or somebody was such a moron that they didn't know enough to prevent it happening.

Any way you cut it, it's coming back to maintenance that ranges from the pathetic to the nonexistent. If it was me, I'd hang up my spurs and avoid the company of honest aviation mechanics because I wouldn't be worthy of the name.

Photo credit: CNN from amateur sources.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Subconscious Weighs In: It's Over

I woke up at 2:45 am this morning in a sweat, coming out of a most vivid dream. I grabbed a pencil and paper and wrote down my recollections. Here they are.

I dreamed I was back at Douglas walking around the place, although it did not look at all familiar. I knew I'd already lost my job. I was dressed in a dark blue jumpsuit. A person who I had worked with came up to me and said "What in the hell are you doing here? You could get put in jail for this." I knew he was going to lose his job as well. He and I parted with him saying "Stay out of trouble-do this the right way." I said, "I'm just trying to work something out inside my head."

I walked past another group of workers, and I could see the MD95 line in the next building. One was saying that a service center would be opened, production was ending, and that anyone who had less than five years' seniority was out of luck.

I headed toward the plating shop. I do not think that Douglas had a plating shop during my time. Anyway, that's where I was going, and I could smell plating chemistry. I was looking for a supervisor but none was around. There were some mechanics making up strange looking assemblies like small cart wheels. So I walked out across a field to the hazardous waste site, which looked like the Matterhorn at Disneyland. I looked over the edge of a cliff and saw some small buildings far below, but I knew there was no way to get there and all the time I knew I didn't belong there any more.

I guess that was what my subconscious was telling me in its long winded way was that I don't work there anymore. Sheesh-it only took 14 years.

Blood in the Water III: Udvar Gets Antsy

It was reported in Bloomberg this morning that International Lease Finance Corp., a/k/a ILFC is making ominous rumblings of the "cancel my order" type in response to the disarray and ongoing delays on the A380 program over at Festung Airbus. ILFC says that it can cancel its order without penalty if there is a six month delay, and it is considering canceling some or all of their order for the A380. Steven Udvar-Hazy, ILFC's commander in chief, was reported to have said "We are not happy and are on safe ground to cancel our order."

There are certain things that one cannot do with major customers. One of them is not giving them what they want, on time, or having a credible excuse as to why you can't deliver on your promises so as to allow the customers to make allowances in their schedules. These things happen all the time in the commercial world, it's called force majeure and everyone acknowledges it can and does happen.

On the other hand, incompetence, mismanagement, or deception of the kind that's coming out of the Festung does not fall under that rubric.

If ILFC can score some 747-8 delivery slots, the ILFC A380 order may well be finis.

Monday, June 19, 2006

This Dong's For You: Pyongyang Grabs the Mike.

It is being widely reported today that the North Koreans-you know, those wonderful folks from north of the 38th parallel who brought you the Korean War, abductions of Japanese women off the street, mass starvation, refried Scud missiles for all able to pay for them, counterfeit money, factory made methamphetamine, brainwashing, and the Pueblo hijacking-where was I?

Oh yes. I remember now. The folks from Pyongyang, taking time from paying eternal homage to Big Daddy Kim Jong-il and Papa Kim Il-sung are getting ready to test launch the latest iteration of their attempt at an I.C.B.M. if you are old enough to shiver a bit at the term.

This one is the Taepodong-2, and it features a modified Scud-C sitting on top of a No-dong 1. It is alleged to have a range of 5,000 km and is capable of launching-well, anything you'd like, really.

Rumor has it the Iranians and the Pakistanis are interested in acquiring more Dong technology. It is also suggested that it's merely an attempt by these folks to acquire some independent satellite launching capabilities. If this is the case, one might say there is a shortage of Dong in those countries.

Time will tell. At this point it is said fueling is going on, and if that is true, it is a dicey proposition to defuel the at that point extremely hazardous missile. One might also suppose that the missile cannot sit there forever with its load of fuel and oxidizers on board.

So if the missile has been fueled, it will most likely be fired unless they're filling it up with tap water and making a big show of things for the spy satellites that are parked overhead. It's also reported that the weather in the region is somewhat overcast but a peek at the weather map shows a bit of clearing toward the end of the week. Chances are, the best time for a shot should be on Thursday. On the other hand, the I.C.B.M. people do not get to choose the time of launching if the fat's in the fire so it could come anytime.

I dunno. "This Dong's for you! This Dong's for you! And this Dong's for you and you!" is starting to sound like that Jackie Mason schtick on the Ed Sullivan show a few years ago, but it is one that people are getting upset over. What's even more puzzling is how much power can be controlled by two of the ugliest people who ever lorded it over their fellows. The interesting thing about Kim Jong-il is how chubby he is-in a country where square meals are as scarce as prairie chickens.

The best result for everyone would be if the damned thing blows up on the launch pad.

Photo credit: Global Security.org

Update 6-20-06.

It was reported in The Australian this afternoon that the U.S. and probably Japan are ready for an immediate imposition of economic sanctions against the North Koreans if they launch the Taepodong 2. These sanctions would likely make things tougher for Pyongyang to launder counterfeit money and get paid for methamphetamine and Scud parts than they already are.

It has also been reported that two Aegis cruisers of the US Navy are parked offshore with all eyes trained on the launch site. If the Taepodong 2 is launched, in all likelihood Uncle will use it as a real life road test for the I.C.B.M. kill vehicle system that's currently being developed.


And Now, For Something Completely Different: Virtumonde

I've just concluded an episode that has left me angry, confused, and having wasted thirty bucks and about six hours.

It has to do with a nasty bit of spyware called Virtumonde.

I'm usually pretty careful where I drop anchor in the murky water of the internet, so how this one got on board my hard drive is unknown. The episode started with periodic popup ads for software I did not want and cannot use. In addition the Dell desktop was running as if it was up to the knees in corn syrup.

One thing about this sort of problem (and yes, I know a Mac is supposed ot be immune from this sort of thing, Klaus) is that finding the fix gets a lot easier when you put Google on the case.

It was a matter of locating the proper fix. One product, "Spyhunter" offers you an allegedly free version of their product, then tells you that you have to shell out $30 to buy the product and make it work, after it's scanned and identified your spyware issues. Well, I did that.

Between Spyhunter and a freeware application called Vundofix (highly recommended) I was able to do away with the hated Virtumonde files and registry keys. What makes such things difficult is that mucking with your registry keys on a PC can cause fatal problems, and that's where this stuff often takes up residence like a tapeworm.

So.....to the folks at Spyhunter-you twisted my arm and did me out of thirty bucks, and I'm not sure it helped. We shall see if it is useful. To the folks who cooked up Vundofix, my thanks.

And to the people who put together Virtumonde, you have my contempt. There's a special circle of hell for you all.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Blood In the Water II; EADS On the Warpath?

The Associated Press reports this day that EADS is going to launch a probe into the A380 dustup, paying particular attention to issues of mismanagement and some suspicious stock trading that family members of highly placed Airbus executives have been involved in.

Mr. Lagardere, co chairman of EADS says he had no knowledge of the A380 production problems until the word came out from Festung Airbus the other day. In particular, EADS wants to find out, what did Humbert and Forgeard know, and when did they know it?

It seems that Mr. Forgeard, his family members, and other Airbus execs exercised a passel of stock options and otherwise cleared out their holdings prior to the announcement of a further six month delay in deliveries of the Albatross.

That, in itself, is mighty suspicious conduct that would probably fail the sniff test if the Securities and Exchange Commission was overseeing things-we do not like insider trading here.

I've changed my view. That is not the odor of decomposition I smell-it is the smell of a reactor overheating and going into meltdown.

Rollin, rollin, rollin! Keep those tumbrils rollin!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Somalia's Back On the Case: Round Up the Usual Suspects

There's a most interesting article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times that is food for thought for the bemused.

In it, Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi scourged the international community for not getting right in there and getting something organized in his country, and he called on everyone to support him and stop the bloodshed.

The most interesting factoid is that there's actually a Somali prime minister. Whether Mr. Gedi has a colorable claim to some authority to say anything other than "I'll have cheese and fries with that burger" is unknown. A more appropriate question at the conference where this surprise was sprung on an unsuspecting world would have been "Who da eff is this guy?"

It seems that his opposite number in the Islamic Courts Union is running the show and receiving planeloads of weaponry from those fine folks in Yemen.

The entire affaire has taxed the credibility of three year old toddlers, some of whom were seen shaking their heads in dismay.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

There's Trouble In Paradise: EADS and BAE Pub Clearing Donnybrook

It was reported late today by the Independent that BAE has accused EADS of sending the value of the company into the toilet in advance of having to settle up on BAE exercising it's put option to divest itself of the 20 per cent stake in Airbus it now owns.

BAE believes that the current spate of doom and gloom announcements from Festung Airbus is a "thinly disguised" attempt to reduce the price at which BAE's share will be bought back and thus reduce the drain on EADS coffers when the bill comes due. The Festung will announce what the import of its restructuring and corrective action plan will be at the Farnborough fandango-right after they've got to close the deal and ante up on the buyout.

Suspicious timing or a company in disarray? The jury's out.

As we say in the states on such matters: Gentlemen, start your engines.

Blood in the Water? Stay Tuned.

It was reported by Reuters this am that Singapore International Airlines has placed a firm order for 20 Boeing 787s. Does this signify a tectonic shift in the high management of the airline? Possibly.

Lest anyone forget, The Singapore Girl cancelled an order for 20 MD11s for a lot less in the way of cause than they've got here with the people from Festung Airbus. That's got to worry the people in the marketing department.

Coming on the heels of the announcement of more big delays in the A380 program and ongoing dithering and indecision about the A350, the odor of decomposition emanating from the Festung is becoming unmistakable. According to NPR this morning, the price of EADS shares declined by 30 per cent on news of the A380 delays.

Stay tuned.

Update 8:35 am CDST

It is reported this morning that Malaysia Airlines, which has 6 A380 Albatrosses on order is 'reviewing the termos of its agreement with Airbus' with respect to its A380 order 'to decide on next steps'.


Update 12:05 pm CDST: et tu, Qantas?

It is reported that Qantas is also rethinking its position re its Albatross order.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Albatross: Hit By New Program Delays

It has been widely reported today that deliveries of the Airbus A380 Albatross , save for the first delivery to Singapore Airways, may slip another six to eight months beyond what has already been announced.

If this is the big announcement from the Festung we've all been waiting for to come out of Farnborough, the splattering sound you hear is the extra large Beluga load of manure hitting the fan at the Toulouse crackhouse.

Stay tuned for further developments. Be ready for cancellations. You heard it here first-at least that part of it.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cluster Maps Update

I've had the cluster maps feature on the Dougloid Papers blog since April and it is nothing short of amazing the places from which people have taken a gander at this site.

Well. Thank you all. I hope it has been stimulating and informative, and I promise I'll keep at it as long as I'm able.

It's really fun being a gadfly.

Proof That Boeing Learned Something From McDonnell Douglas

It appears that a 19 year Boeing employee, Gerald Eastman, was fired recently for downloading proprietary information he was not authorized to view off of company servers. Eastman was allegedly feeding information to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and he was also involved in several complaints to the Friendly Aviation Administration about his employer and then ended up filing a complaint against the FAA. Of course, now he's a whistleblower and it's all retaliation-just like the Pruitt lawsuit that's corrupting the atmosphere in Wichita these days.

What makes this story interesting is that it has direct parallels to events I saw take place at Douglas. When an employee became a large enough pain in the ass to the company (and don't ask me what possesses these folks, because I do not understand it at all), the company, once the decision was made that the particular person was an asp in their bosom, would make sure that the employee got gone, with extreme prejudice.

To Boeing's and Douglas' credit, it usually took a lot of pushing to get them to the point they said "This guy's got to go." But when the decision was made, it was final and unappealable.

I saw this happen on half a dozen separate occasions to half a dozen different people, three of whom worked in my work group. They all shared one common characteristic: by their conduct they didn't want to be at Douglas and they deserved to be fired.

One thing that I've never understood is why people fail to get this concept-if you work for someone, take the paychecks and so on, you owe them a duty of loyalty and fidelity, to keep their secrets, to work diligently to advance their interests, avoid saying bad things about them in public, and to refrain from taking property that they own but you do not. That applies until you're off the payroll and off the property.

Once you're outside the plant gate and off the payroll, why, you can stand there all day long with a sign and hand out petitions if you like. But they never do, do they?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Conflicts or Tactics?

It's been reported a bajillion times this week that Airbus has sued in D.C. Superior Court (which is analogous to state court) to get several lawyers now working on Boeing matters before the W.T.O. for the Wilmer Hale firm in D.C. off the case, alleging that what they're doing is a clear conflict of interest under D.C. Bar rules. Apparently these people either worked for Airbus in the past, worked for the U.S. Trade Representative in the past, or some combination of the two. Of course, Wilmer Hale isn't having any.

The question that's on the minds of lawyers everywhere who take an interest in such matters is "Where on earth is the jurisdiction? Do D.C. Bar rules for the regulation of lawyers have any application at all in matters before the World Trade Organization?! What's up wit dat?"

The other question one might pose in all this is "Didn't Airbus know about this, say, a couple years ago? What was their legal department doing-drinking coffee and not looking at the names of the lawyers on the correspondence?"

What in heck is the suit really all about? Unfortunately, there's no answer without a copy of the pleadings at hand.

Of course, we in the trade are fond of nitpicking such matters to death, where the effect on the general public is coma inducing. It may be a tempest in a teapot. It could be the real thing. The timing's awfully convenient as the matter is coming to a head in the W.T.O. shortly.

However, until a copy of the petition surfaces, there's really no answer to this conundrum. I'll be watching. Send me one if you have it.

Update 6-11-06: A somewhat more specific account surfaced in Inside U.S. Trade, a subscription service. In that account it was stated that Airbus amended its filing by adding former U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, who also works for Wilmer Hale. The petition itself was a request for a temporary injunction. In its request Airbus alleges that Barshefsky is in violating the Rules of Professional Conduct by working on Boeing legal matters related to the WTO case. As it happens, actions before the W.T.O. are prosecuted by the governments in question and not by private parties, and it's common for interested parties to provide assistance to the USTR in cases involving their business.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch: Boeing Faces Program Delays

Business Week reports that Boeing's highly extended and is facing problems integrating the different supplier components in the new 787 project. It is reported that there have been failures of barrel sections in testing, and BW seems to think that because of multi layer carbon fiber construction, the potential for strength sapping voids is great. In addition, the 'total electric living' environment is proving more difficult than was originally thought and as usual there are software snags.

The upshot of this is the potential for Boeing to do a backwoods imitation of the scurrying and scrambling and latching on to goofy excuses for program delays-something the folks at Festung Airbus know plenty about these days. Who knows? If it works out right, Boeing may be able to hire some of the Festung's flak catchers for a price.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sic Semper European Solidarity? BAE Set to Dump EADS

It was widely reported today that BAE, a 20 per cent shareholder in EADS the parent company of Airbus, is going to exercise a 'put' option and sell its share in EADS now that it and EADS could not reach a mutually agreeable price. BAE, to put it starkly, is getting out while the getting is good.

I know, I know, this is an aviation blog, but this is important.

A 'put' option is not something that happens on the golf course, but what it is is the right to compel a sale of something to someone. BAE and EADS not being able to reach a mutually agreeable price, neutral arbiters will be called in to settle the matter.

What are we to make of this? First of all, EADS stock has lost thirty per cent of its value in the last three months. That can't be good. Second, we can infer that the put option being exercised on the runup to Farnborough means that BAE does not think the news from there will be enough to set things straight, and that furthermore they don't care.

Although there are sound reasons related to BAE's defense business in the states that suggests that a realignment of interests would be better, the fact is that nobody decides to dump an asset of this size and quality unless they think things are going to get a lot worse and soon. You don't dump an asset that you think will increase substantially in value unless you need the money, and BAE doesn't.

Here at the home of the original S.W.A.G. (scientific wild assed guess), we think that there's a possibility that BAE knows what we know: that Airbus is in way over its head. Two of the projects that it is counting on to pave the streets of Toulouse with newly minted Euros (the A380 and the A350) are turning into white elephants that aren't selling while the cash drain of product development continues to take its toll.

And who knows what the future holds for the A400M? Details of progress is sketchy and it's not going to come on line in time to salvage the A350 and A380.

Stay tuned for some very interesting developments and ask yourself:what does BAE know that Jean and Hans Stockholder don't?

News flash! I'm informed by a colleague in the Land Down Under that the BAE stake in EADS is something in the form of an equity stake that isn't exactly pegged to the price of the shares...which maybe means that BAE is thanking their lucky stars right now they DIDN'T have shares.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

And You Thought Jerry Lee Lewis Was a Jerk?

It seems that one Pete Doherty, front man for the band "Babyshambles" and his crew are not allowed to take passage on EasyJet henceforth and forevermore, when a blood filled syringe was discovered in le crapper after Doh! (that's short for Doherty) spent an awful lot of time therein.

Babyshambles, indeed. The only shambles here is what's left in this young man's empty head and in the minds of people who fund his....ahem....musical efforts.

OK Randy, Now I'm Really Confused.

Randy's blog has an interesting piece on the end of the Douglas run in Long Beach and it'd probably bring tears to your eyes if you didn't know the history and weren't paying attention. The trash truck clipart seems appropriate here.

It's also a homily on what The Prussian Airplane Company values and what they're willing to throw in the dumpster, if anyone's looking.

I can almost hear you saying "What ever is that Dougloid feller going ON about?"

Friends, before we get all weepy about the End of Life As We Knew It in Long Beach please study Bloomberg today. It is reported that the aforementioned bunch of folks who are getting all maudlin about the end of Douglas are getting ready to spend $27 billion USD in the next thirty years in..........Russia. Airbus, not to be outdone, is ready to sink $25 billion in Russia over the same period.

Russia, for Christ's sake, when Boeing had (and Airbus missed their chance to acquire), in their hands, in Long Beach, in the United States, an asset at the center of a vast network of fabrication shops and the tribal knowledge of literally thousands of engineers, tin benders, wrench turners, paint sprayers, rivet bashers, and parts chasers-all of whom felt it was quite a feather in their cap to say down at the cafe "Yes. We're Douglas people from way back, ever since Dad came out here from Nebraska during the war."

OK, OK, I know that a lot of that is going to go for titanium, whether it's fabricated or billet, so you can discount those figures some. But they're planning to acquire engineering and expertise when they just got done tossing the same thing in the dumpster.

So....Randy, pardon my bereavement fatigue and my skepticism over this (and the Douglas Park swill from the Boeing Realty Company, about which I have written previously).

If anyone ever finds the Douglas globe, for heaven's sake turn it over to some people who aren't planning to sell it for scrap metal.


Too Little, Too Late, Toulouse

I've been busy closing out classes, grading term papers, and starting other classes for the folks who make my extravagant lifestyle possible. That, and a couple of juicy court appointed juvenile cases have kept me busy. So when my sister emailed me and said "What's up wit dat? How come no blogging?!" I figured it was time to get back on the case.

1. The A350.

There's a lot of discussion lately about the new! improved! better than ever! wait! no! really! double secret really really better than ever! A350 from Festung Airbus, and the consensus seems to be that there may well be a big splash at the Farnborough Gran Baile and Fandango Deluxe that's upcoming in July.

Of course, the report in Flight International from Festung Airbus today blames all on the customers not telling Airbus what they wanted. Charles Champion of Airbus was quoted as saying that constructive criticism came a little late.

That seems to be the play at the Festung when the post coital afterglow wears off and customers start getting hostile. Fact is, Airbus thought they could compete for orders with warmups and leftovers against the 787-something that the Dougloids could have told them wasn't such a great idea, has all sorts of bad outcomes, pisses off the clients etc etc.

2. The WhaleJet.

On the subject of the A380, there is a distinct odor of decomposition starting to emerge from that program, and the bath that Airbus takes on it will probably be the biggest thing since Caracalla built his bathhouse. Nobody's signed an order since last June, and that can't be a good sign.

3. The Peanut Gallery

Over at a.net, a ruckus erupted when the moderators (it is a moderated site) decided that the term WhaleJet in reference to the A380 was henceforth and forever banned from the site-perhaps because a number of well known apologists and whiners were getting their feelings hurt. Never known for their sense of humor or appreciation of the well turned double entendre, the moderators banned one of my pals for referring to Airbus HQ as the Fuhrerbunker. I have served my time in the doghouse at a.net for being a little too witty at times, and I received a plateful of slag from one moderator in particular. For all you fans of a.net, the slag stops when you figure out who owns the domain ( a technical college in Sweden) and you start copying everything you receive of that type to abuse@ the home site.

Of course, there was something of a hue and cry from some folks, and the moderators reversed themselves.

I have a modest proposal to soothe the hurt feelings of everyone over the subject. How about we call it the Albatross, and give everyone who's interested a copy of The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, complete with Gustav Dore etchings? That ought to keep the marketing department up at night.

4. Fundamentally Different Futures from Mike Boyd

Michael Boyd, the outspoken iconoclast and enfant terrible of the aviation business has published a trenchant, witty, satiric and ultimately on point Hot Flash a couple of days ago which is linked above. In it, he states clearly that the missteps and marketing screwups at the Festung are on a par with the Douglas DC8, the Lockheed Electra, and the CV880 and 990-all of which were well engineered (and in the case of the CV990 exquisitely beautiful) commercial flops.

He says that the measure of success in the manufacture of commercial aircraft, particularly where billions of dollars are needed to develop and field a product is not past sales or last year's successes, but the clarity of vision that the firm possesses. Boyd goes on to state that Boeing invested heavily in new production technology with the 787, where Airbus invested in developing a larger 747. Although the Albatross is a technological tour de force and can offer substantial economies if the seats are all sold, you gotta sell the seats to realize the economies of scale that Airbus bet the ranch on.

The A350, according to Boyd, 'failed miserably' to impress anyone in the airline business, thus adding to the general consensus that Airbus is a day late and a dollar short.

To the notion of clarity of vision that Mike articulates, I'd probably amend it to read clarity of the right vision for the time and the relevant market both now and in the future.

One thing Mike says that merits a lot of hard thought over is the notion of city pairs that is one of the major talking points of The Prussian Airplane Company. He says that nobody in Omaha can expect nonstop flights to Budapest and a $200 million piece of equipment is going to be used between big cities, and most big cities are hubs. This, if true, could validate at least part of the Albatross business case. Time will tell.