Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It Always Rains In Paris, Doesn't It?

It is reported by the Associated Press by way of the Houston Chronicle, you know, the bes' li'l ole paper that ever ran an expose.....where was I? Oh. I remember.

It seems that two French Senators have broken ranks with da Festung and issued a report that is a scathing review of affairs at Airbus after a six month investigation. Senators LeGrand and Ries pull no punches therein. Surprisingly they held it until this week....which is interesting in itself.

In particular Senator Ries says in an interview, "The A380 was a catastrophe both industrially and commercially." The A380, it is said, is the proximate reason that Airbus has lost its' number one slot in the aircraft business to those pesky Americans and wiped out $6 billion in profit for EADS, the parent company.

Of course, you can blame this all on the dollar, they say. That's the capper.

A spokeswoman at Airbus (perhaps the enigmatic Barbara Kracht, Airbus' answer to the Sphinx) had "no comment" which is hilarious when one considers the amount of swamp gas and flatulence that was emerging from the Airbus chalet last week on a 24 hour basis no less.

I have absolutely no doubt that Senator Ries will be doing the French equivalent of pounding a beat in Staten Island before too long. This sort of thing cannot be overlooked.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New Kid On The Block

There's a new kid on the block and it's Fleetbuzz. Taking no prisoners either as we see here.

My my my....I expect calls for more hot pokers to scourge the heretics.

Here's a taste to whet your appetite.

What I didnt mention in my previous blog entry was my conversation with two prolific French journalists. One from Le Monde, the other from Le Figaro. Neither of the men I spoke to can be considered poor journalists, having spent over sixty years between them reporting on aviation news and the industry at large.
Again, both are very close to Airbus and have, over the years provided a brilliant insight into the company through its ups and downs.
Aside from being friendly, honest and French- they stated the same theme. Whether you choose to believe it or otherwise is frankly none of my business. If you have something to the contrary, great. It does nothing to dispel what I was told.
Both had stated (note, not “claimed”) that Airbus had deliberately asked airlines not to reveal their orders until the show. Ive read a couple of poor articles on the net, who I wont embarass, who state otherwise. Unsurprisingly, most of these “writers” are sympathetic to the Airbus cause- in part to relay “controversial” articles/statements to grab attention to what is tantamount to childhood diary writing and secondly to discredit Boeing, regardless of whether Airbus is actually preferred or not.

B787 To Paint Shop This Morning

While I'm waiting for permission to post a picture of it, the first predominately CFRP commercial airliner has been rolled out of final assembly and moved to Boeing's paint hangar in Renton in preparation for rollout in early July and first flight at the end of the summer.

There will be obstacles ahead and much is to be learned.

We have repeatedly stated here that the technology we're seeing unfold, and the production methods and processes now vindicated mark a tectonic shift in the way commercial aircraft will be made from here on in.

This ought to be food for thought for those in Toulouse. It's really happening, and it's no use denying it.

The future is now, and it ain't with dinosaurs and half measures. The fellows in Toulouse ought to study and inwardly mark the photo of the National Airlines Stinson Trimotor, which was a contemporary of the Douglas DC3 but is now largely unmourned and unremembered, although Stinson built good sturdy airplanes.
In fact I'd just bet I'm the only person in the world who woke up this morning thinking about the Stinson Trimotor.
Photo credit ACCA, Flying For 1936.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Rest Of Us: A Meditation

The Denver Post has an article today which was thought provoking. It seems that Larry Manzanares, one time judge and former City Attorney, was charged with felony theft of a laptop computer from the judiciary. He shot himself Friday.

It seems that after he'd signed on as City Attorney in January of this year, the computer disappeared. It had tracking software installed that alerts a remote site if the computer is used to log onto the internet. That remote site in turn alerts the rightful owner of the computer if it's been reported stolen, and that was the case here.

The computer was returned along with a story about how he'd acquired it which would have left a group of three year old toddlers shaking their heads in dismay. It was chock full of porno.

Larry Manzanares left a wife and two kids. For them it's going to be a tough slog dealing with the fallout, but suicides never think about how many others they are going to damage with their egoism.

Here's where it gets thought provoking.

There are those who graduate from Harvard Law as Larry did, and they are The Chosen Ones Beloved Of Olympus Who Never Have To Worry About What Shall We Eat Or What Shall We Drink Or Wherewithal Shall We Be Clothed and there are The Rest Of Us Who Labor In The Vineyards For Our Keep Who Wear The Stigma Of Other Than Harvard Law Degrees like old Cain himself. We're treated as damaged goods while the ink is still wet on our diplomas, good enough for the criminal courts but not front office material.

On the one side one can expect choice clerkships and offers a plenty from silk stocking law firms, straight shots into the number two or three slot in states' Attorney General's Offices, State Department slots, 100 large a year for being a warm body in an Armani suit, or a nice double helping of noblesse oblige if so inclined before wiping the mud of the streets off their boots on that trip to a nice law prof sinecure somewhere.

For The Rest Of Us we screw around with slip and fall lawsuits, repeat drunk drivers, abused kids, arguments in burglary cases, addiction, destruction and drama enough to cause Captain Ahab to get a little nervous, and The Rest Of Us fight for every plate of food that comes our way.

For The Rest Of Us there are no Fancy Offices With Gilding And Mahogany Paneling And Hot And Cold Running Secretaries. The Rest Of Us go into battle packing only what we can lug along with us, and the conviction that somehow or other we're doing the right thing as G-d in her wisdom gave us the light to see it.

The Rest Of Us will stumble, fail and fall honorably on the field or otherwise, and the world will little note or long remember us or remark upon our passing.

Does any of it matter and will anything change? Probably not although I'd like it to be so.

But I can tell you one thing.

The Rest Of Us know that a Harvard Law degree is the nearest thing to a bottled in bond, cast iron, galvanized and silver plated meal ticket and license to live large the world has ever known.
Would The Rest Of Us have squandered such a thing over a lousy damned laptop computer laden with dirty movies?

I doubt it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

News From Paris UPDATE 5

It's a wrap, folks.

As usual, all is confusion when attempting to summarize what got sold by Airbus at the Big Show. The only numbers of interest to me here are for the A380 and the A350. The other lines are selling well enough, no news there.

Here it is as best I can figure, subject of course to change:

3-Qatar, firm order
8-Emirates, memorandum of understanding
2-Air France, memorandum of understanding

80-Qatar, firm order
22-US Airways, firm order, 20 conversions of previous type order
22-Aeroflot, firm order
12-ALAFCO firm order, conversion of previous type order
15-Kingfisher, memorandum of understanding, conversion of previous type order (could be another 5 here according to Aviation Week)
6-Afriqiyah, memorandum of understanding
4- Libyan, memorandum of understanding
7-CIT, firm order, conversion of previous type order
20-Singapore, firm order

How this breaks out is that 39 firm orders are conversions from the old order book and 15 MOUs are conversions from the old order book. The total of firm orders looks like 163, more or less, and the number of provisionals look like 25.

A good week's work for the Airbus sales force, although collaring only 3 orders for the A380 is not a vindication of the type or any predictor of its eventual success.

The future of that program remains problematic, and it is still an open question whether the entry into service of the lone Singapore aircraft in October will prove to be so revolutionary an event as to sway many potential buyers who are not yet committed. Quite simply, those in the know already know what the capabilities and infirmities of this aircraft are, and they stayed away in droves in Paris.

Now all the worker bees have to do is build and deliver the airplanes to the customers, and do it on time and on budget.

I will now have the crow, please, but only a child's portion.

News From Paris UPDATE 4

Fairfield is just as I left it, and I came home with a raft of good stuff for a modest price.

Bloomberg reports this morning that Singapore Airlines converted 20 options for the A350 and has another 20 options in the hopper. The options dated from July of 2006.

In other more problematic news from the Seattle Times, General Electric and Airbus failed to come to an agreement to develop an engine for the A350. At this point the only choice for potential operators is the Rolls Trent XWB.

GE is offering the GEnx for the -800 and -900, but Airbus wants GE to develop an all new engine in the same thrust class as the GE90. John Leahy has said in no uncertain terms that there ain't going to be a GEnx equipped A350, period. Of course that's always subject to change depending on what the customers tell Airbus they want.

It would cost GE about $1 billion USD to develop the engine Airbus wants and it would put GE in the position of competing against itself because it is the sole source on the B777. Every sale might be one they don't least that's the story.

Pratt & Whitney are not in the picture, and I'm not sure they ever were. There's a slim chance the Engine Alliance could offer a version of the GP7200 now an alternate for the A380 but that would require that both GE & P&W sign off on the deal.

However, the entire picture changes with the deconstruction of the dollar, right? Everything has a price.

Mr. Gallois said earlier this week that A350 structure would not be built in the states-period, implying that if Spirit wants a chunk of this project it's going to have to buy one of Airbus' Power8 castoffs in Europe. I think we're all interested in a little horse trading, and this sort of transatlantic 'cooperation' doesn't do the KC30 project's chances any favors.

We DO talk to each other here.

As much as I respect the pronunciamentos of Popes John Leahy and Louis Gallois, in the words of the immortal Chuck Culver, "Everything is budget driven. Everything."

Don't count anything out just yet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

News From Paris UPDATE 3

It's reported today by the Associated Press that Airbus has signed Aeroflot for 22 A350s and India's Kingfisher has signed a memorandum of understanding for another 50. Libya's Afriqiyah has signed a memorandum of understanding for an additional six.

As we noted below a memorandum of understanding is along the lines of saying "Yeah. We're interested-send us the catalog and price list!" and when it's for a product that does not exist and nobody really knows what it's going to actually do, memorandums of understanding have more publicity value than anything else.

In other news, not to be outdone by Volvo's ill-fated advertising that promoted one of their cars as "The Volvo that can save your soul!" Airbus announced in an act of overweening Eurohubris that the A380 was the airplane that could save the planet.

Some people over on are actually taking this seriously.

I'm on furlough over there, having been booted again for taking one of the resident Jew haters to task who seems to think that every time one Palestinian thug drops another Palestinian thug off a building the fault can be directly attributed to the Israelis. It was worth it. I just can't abide offensive stupidity.

I'm reserving comment on all of this for later on when I get back from Maharishiville, a/k/a Fairfield today.

Until then, hare hare rama rama, folks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

News From Paris UPDATE 2.5

The Washington Post reports that as expected, ILFC ordered 63 B787s.

It's an important statement from the house of Udvar-Hazy on the technical merit of the B787 program and where the largest aircraft owner in the world thinks the future of commercial airliner construction lies.

As you know, for the last couple years International Lease Finance Co.'s irrepressible CEO has been asking Airbus to build an A350 that he can buy. Apparently that is not in the cards at this time.

Stay tuned.

Is you is, or is you ain't my baby?

MarketWatch has an interesting article that quotes Fabrice Bregier of Airbus as saying that the performance specifications for the A350 have been set to upstage the competition.

This was in response to McNerney of Boeing opining that the specifications for the A350 were undefined at present, in a French newspaper no less. What he said was more or less "Nobody knows what it's going to be like."

Mr. Bregier went on to say that detailed performance specifications will be released to the customers in September. It'll fly from Paris to Honolulu nonstop, so 'tis said.

As the design freeze for the A350 is not set to take place until the fall of 2008, there's a lot of room for change there. In fact, we think that at this point it's quite evident that nobody can say with reasonable specificity how an aircraft that does not exist will perform.

We here at the Dougloid Papers aren't from Missouri, but the frequently repeated maxim from the natives of that fair state bears repeating: show me.

News From Paris UPDATE 1

The Houston Chronicle by way of the Associated Press reports this day that the orders announced by Airbus yesterday are three firm for the A380 from Qatar and signed memoranda of understanding (a document saying 'yeah, we're interested. Send us the junk mail!') with 8 for Emirates and two for Air France. That raises the total for the A380 to 163 firm orders.

The total for the A350 is better, and the Chronicle calls it at 93. As we've noted, the customers announced so far are house customers and you would expect nothing less from them, particularly USAir. And that's not sour grapes, folks. Just the facts. If I'd been lent $250 million by Airbus I'd probably buy their product too.

There's always been something of a tendency at da Festung to jump up MOUs and treat them as 'almost orders', when it's time to grab a few column inches. Thus it is with the USAir order, which is a contingent order to be firmed up some time in the future, hopefully soon.

On the other hand, Boeing tends to be more conservative in these matters for reasons that are more or less obvious-they've already got a hefty book for the B787 and a six year technological head start in what will prove to be a technical revolution that comes around once every fifty years or so, and that is full on, no holds barred, technology forcing monolithic CFRP construction. As we've opined, the B747-8 is like the Kaiser's fleet in being-it doesn't have to win wars or battles or sink ships, all it has to do is be a baleful presence to sow discord and spread fear and alarm in Toulouse.

As for Airbus, all the noise is understandable. If all you've got to sell is lemons, you know without asking that there's going to be a lot of lemonade around, and maybe some lemon meringue pie to go with that lemonade.

There's an interesting commentary in the Seattle Times that quotes Adam Pilarski, an Avitas analyst as saying that because Airbus is already offering performance guarantees for the A350 it doesn't matter to the buyers whether it meets its performance metrics because they're going to get paid anyway. That makes it easy to buy because the risk is low. That's a cautionary tale and Mr. Pilarski is going to be someone to watch as we move forward.

The big news at Paris is always what doesn't happen there, and rampant speculation and scientific wild assed guesses are as thick as fireflies in June here on the prairie. There is one consistent rumor that ILFC is going to announce a substantial order for the B787 sometime soon, perhaps today.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 18, 2007

News From Paris

It is reported today that Airbus has gotten some life pumped into its order book so far at the Paris Air Show. Airbus has made a habit of announcing large orders at the show in past years and this one's no different.

Among the orders announced today are one from Emirates for 8 A380s and the previously announced order from Qatar Airways for 80 A350s and three A380s. It's also rumored that Air France has signed a memorandum of understanding for a further 2 A380s although this is unconfirmed at press time.

USAir has ordered 22 A350s and Aviation Lease and Finance of Kuwait ordered a dozen.These two are 'new' customers on the scene and in the case of Kuwait, point to the favored position Airbus enjoys in the Persian Gulf region.

The USAir order marks the first U.S. based airline that has ordered the type. The Qatar order for the A380s is conversion of two options and one new order.

As expected the real volume action was in the smaller aircraft, the A319 and A320 and the B737. They're selling well for Airbus and Boeing.

A substantial order from International Lease and Finance Corp. for the B787 is expected later in the week.

There is also news today of some delays in the A400M program to address structural defects in the engine/nacelle systems. According to one source the program is expected to consume 18 billion euros in development money. Spread over 190 aircraft, that's problematic and it raises questions about the economic soundness of the program.

At present, Emirates is undecided about ordering the B787 or the A350, but a substantial order is in the works, and the delivery date for new B787s is out there with the presently stated entry into service date of the A350. That is, if you believe that Airbus knows how to stick to a schedule.

One might suppose that the orders announced today vindicate to some extent the viability of the A350 program and the A380 program, although they're all 'house' customers so far with a lot invested in the future viability of Airbus. In particular, USAir has been in Airbus' hip pocket for a while as it initially ordered the first iteration of the A350 and as part of that deal, was loaned a cool $250 million by the very same Airbus to go and merge with America West. So it seems that USAir may be a captive customer as well.

The proof of the A380 and A350 puddings will be a substantial order from someone we have not yet heard from who is not in Airbus' pocket and who will order aircraft based on their technical merit, delivery schedule, and the reputation of the vendor for following through-such as a BA or JAL.

Time will tell. I'm not holding my breath but I can and will eat crow as required for any of my predictions that turn out to be full of horsefeathers.

As usual an interesting week so far.

Further details as they become available.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Big Show in Paris; As the Airbus Turns?

As everyone on the planet except three guys on an ice floe in the Arctic know, next week is the biennial Paris Air Show. In the sturm und drang stakes Paris never disappoints, and we here at the Dougloid Papers are going to be watching the news feeds for items of interest.

One thing that's going to be on everyone's mind is the continuing daytime soap opera that is Airbus and what may happen in the way of new orders and other earthshaking developments from da Festung. So let's review potential areas of interest to kibitzers such as ourselves.

  • The inscrutably named Power8 (what happened to Power7? what's in Power9? could there be Power10?) is Airbus' restructuring plan that proposes to shed 10,000 worker bees and five or six subassembly plants in Europe, all in an effort to save 30 per cent in structural costs. That's if it all goes according to plan, but nothing at Airbus ever follows the script. In any event, losing 10,000 jobs and a couple subassembly sites is a bandaid for a broken leg. Translation? Much more needs to be done than is in the playbook to eliminate structural inefficiencies, and it won't get done because the social and political cost is too high for a governmental jobs program like Airbus.

  • The A380 program is stalled, bogged down, stuck in limbo and on a fast track to nowheresville. After the soap opera of the last couple years, Airbus is 'on track' to deliver a lone aircraft to Singapore Airlines this fall if everything goes according to plan, and there will be a gradual rampup of deliveries thereafter, so 'tis said. At present the order odometer seems jammed at 160 or thereabouts, they've lost the A380F program, and the prospects of landing a big order from a real player like BA are at best problematic, given the drain on resources the program has become. In addition, as we've been saying for the past year, there is a persistent unresolved weight problem with the A380. The problem was inadvertently revealed when Airbus staged a publicity joyride for media types a few months ago and some real world weight figures came out-which were ignored by everyone except us. After that, we've been treated to a reworking and repositioning of the A380 as a luxury cruiser for a favored few, rather than a cattle hauler for masses of Asians as it was first promoted. In brief, it's a 400 passenger, payload limited aircraft, which makes one wonder whether it's really the wiring or something more like a massive weight reduction meat axe being wielded in Toulouse? For BA, betting the airline on the A380 and Airbus being able to deliver is like asking a rancher's bank to bet its roll on cattle that haven't been born. And lest we forget, the B747-8 has taken sales from the lower edge of the VLA segment and may just be what BA selects-they're the single largest B747 operator in the world, they have a lot of credibility at Boeing headquarters, and they have the ability to get Boeing to sit up and pay attention. At this point the B747-8 program looks a lot like Kaiser Bill's fleet in being. It doesn't have to do much except be on everyone's mind, to be the very legerdemain to the A380 sales effort-if such a thing exists at all.

  • The A350 is like the Twelfth Imam. We don't know where it is, or what it will look like, only that it'll be better than anything that's being built today and people who don't believe any of this are heretics to be expunged at all costs. Two previous iterations (v. 1.0 was a refried A330 and v.2.0 was a product improved and larger airframe based loosely on the A330) went down the hopper. Version 3.0 is said to be a CFRP panels over conventional structure (a/k/a black aluminum) proposition. We've already opined that da Festung doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to make the leap to monolithic CFRP structure that will be required to build the successors to the B737 and A320, and perhaps the B777. We've also opined that by the time product definition and design freeze arrives for real in October 2008, Airbus will be committed to production without really having any good idea whether Boeing has built the better mousetrap. If true, that will translate into a five or six year deficit, assuming that Boeing decides to quit working on new stuff from here on in.

  • The A400M airlifter is more or less on schedule for entry into service in 2009. At present there are about 190 on order from the governments of Europe and some smaller orders from a few countries. It is intended as a replacement for fleets of elderly C160s and C130s. However, the A400M is a new although conventional airframe and a completely new engine that will have a development curve to be accounted for. In particular, the engine is going to be a limited production project in a class by itself with little commonality to any civil engine anyone's got a use for-nobody's building 15,000 hp turboprops these days, although it might have marine or stationary applications. The A400M load wise is in a sweet spot between the Lockheed Martin C130 and the Douglas nee Boeing C17. It does not have the ability to stage an all up main battle tank into a 5,000 foot dirt strip which is the mission the C17 was built around, and it does not have the large installed base of the C130-which has been around since the 1950s. As a practical matter when one is selecting a cargo hauler, the mission model defines the configuration. Because of this, it is quite clear that the countries which will order the A400M will still depend on the kind offices of C17 operators to do the kind of heavy lifting that the A400M will not be able to do. It's a political statement of a sort that Europe is not intending to place heavy equipment in a hot spot in the future.

I think we can expect some interesting developments during the pendency of the Paris Airshow, but whether anything happens that signals a sea change in the fortunes of Airbus is a tossup.

If there are no new orders from credible customers announced for the A380, that will signal that the industry has issued a vote of no confidence in that program and its future will be up in the air. There will be orders for the A350, but as these will be far in advance of production they're likely to be at a very low cost to the people who buy.

There have been signs of aggression from the A400M people as the effort to corral column inches and get some facetime with potential operators continues as we saw in the recent rumble up in Canada. I do not think that ever was a serious effort to sell airplanes as much as it was to get the name out. The main problem that the A400M program has is that the aircraft itself is too big to be a C130, too small to be a C17 and not available for a number of years yet.

Stay tuned. I'm watching with interest.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

ILFC To Order B787, Pass on A350?

The Wall Street Journal and others report this morning that International Lease and Finance Co., the base of operations for the always opinionated Steven Udvar Hazy is set to order a large number of B787 Dreamliners and pass on the A350 for now.

The announcement is to be made, so it's said, at the Paris Air Show next week.

As you might expect, Mr. Udvar Hazy has some piquant comments on the situation which center on the fact that there's not nearly enough definition of the product and no deal in place for an engine supplier.

As you recall, it was the representations of Mr. Udvar Hazy and others that forced the redefinition of the A350 to v. 2.0. As a practical matter, design freeze is not set to take place until the fall of 2008, so the present iteration of the A350 could change appreciably between now and then.

Stay tuned. Next week should prove interesting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Riis Stripped of Yellow Jersey

France 24 reports today that the Amaury Sport Organization has stripped Bjaarne Riis, the winner of the 1996 Tour De France of his title because of his admitted use of performance enhancing chemistry during the Tour.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Airbus's Bad Mojo Up North

The Star reports today that the military wing of Airbus has attempted a high stakes game of capture the flag with the Canadian government by submitting an unsolicited proposal to the Defence Committee at Parliament. The proposal would place 8 A400M airlifters and a refurb job on 9 existing C130s in place of the previously planned purchase of 17 C130Js from Lockheed Martin.

A VP of Airbus has said that this is a "good deal" because Airbus has a plane 'about ready to roll off the assembly line'.

All of which is news here at the Dougloid Papers because first flight of the A400M is not scheduled until the first quarter of 2008, EIS is not until some time in 2009, the bigger players are going to get served first, there are rumors of delays to the program, and the first A400M isn't even in final assembly.

What's really interesting about all this is the fact that Pratt & Whitney Canada seemed to have the engine competition for the A400M sewed up with a better product at a good price until representations were made by European governments with an interest in workshare, resulting in Canada losing the engine part of the A400M project.

That must have left a bad taste in the mouth to be long remembered in our neighbor to the North.

Canada's like a lot of places in North America-it's pretty regional, people know each other, and a lot gets done based on handshakes and mutual trust. Someone once said Canada's like Minnesota only the beer's better.

The flip side of this way of dealing is that people who do shabby things on this side of the pond are remembered for a long time. A lot of jobs are on the line in Quebec, and P&W is one of the crown jewels of the North American aircraft industry. So it had to hurt bad, and the aerospace community in Canada being a fairly small one with long memories, I am sure the story got told in break rooms and at conferences and at kitchen tables and at bars up around Montreal where the P&W workforce gathers on Friday afternoons.

You don't treat people like poor relatives and second class citizens and walk away without repercussions, in Canada or anywhere else.

I would be surprised if this proposal was not dead on arrival because of this, so one wonders why it was made at all-perhaps desperation to make a sale on Airbus' part?

I'll be tracking this one.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Living Light and Saving Money: Applied Recycling

Here at the Dougloid Papers, we are always interested in saving a buck or two and lightening the load on the environment from the things we do. This has led to the quest for ever lower priced used things that need some TLC.

To the latest expression.

The year before last we bought a TiVo digital media server on fleabay from some unknown character. It was advertised as new, was probably a factory refurb, and the power supply croaked after six weeks.

So after trying to get another power supply and failing, I put the machine in the basement and we got another from Best Buy, which has worked well.

Our local Tivo service center, Traviss Audio and Video on Douglas avenue, wanted $40 to diagnose the ills of the grey market Tivo. I told them, look, it's got a dead power supply, I want to buy one, can you order me a power supply? They said, no, we have to diagnose it and that's going to cost you $40 even before we answer whether we can get you some parts. Nice, huh? Buncha jerks.

Anyway, there was this box with a dead Tivo in it and I decided one day to pull it apart. Inside, I found what looked like a garden variety 80gb IDE hard drive from the Maxtor people, and a Panasonic DVD-R/RW drive. The hard drive was a nice upgrade for my standby IBM Aptiva and it installed and formatted with no problems. The DVD drive went on the shelf.

Fast forward. I've got a case right now that requires a lot of looking at security camera videos. So first I had to get the evidence from the DMPD, which was a VCR tape. That got converted into a couple DVDs for $70 and then I found out that the DVD ROM drive in my trusty Dell desktop did not work and probably never had, because I'd never needed it before. So I went and priced DVD drives, the cheapest was about $50 for a noname, which was about $40 more than I have right now.

On the way home, I remembered the DVD drive from the Tivo. After figuring out how to remove the existing Samsung DVD ROM drive (simple if you know how to release the front panel, impossible if you don't) I checked the jumpers, loaded up the drive I'd scrounged from the Tivo and with some trepidation about special firmware, drivers and the like, pressed the start button.

It worked like a champ right from jump street, easiest install in a Windows machine I ever did.

So keep your eye on those dead DVD recorders. You can save yourself some money and save the planet as well.