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Op-ed: Why Design a Plane When You Can Sue?

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Op-ed: Why Design a Plane When You Can Sue?

Op-ed: Why Design a Plane When You Can Sue?
October 07
10:30 2017

MIAMI – I had no idea that the Boeing 737 MAX was the most versatile aircraft ever made. I mean, I had a hint when United Airlines was nudged away from the CSeries into ordering the, much larger, Boeing 737-7 MAX. Clearly, it couldn’t have been because of discounting. That order was won on merit.

But what happened when Boeing ran into a customer who wanted an aircraft that met their RFP, not a discount? Clearly, that was a threat to the existence of America’s largest exporter.

Wait, what? You heard me, Boeing not winning an order from a customer that does want their aircraft is a danger. Don’t believe me, why else is there a 300% tariff on the CSeries?

Boeing really said that offering launch pricing to attract Delta to order a decent quantity of comfortable and composite CSeries was price dumping. Sort of?

I was on their side about the launch aid issue until I read more about the structure of what the deal Bombardier made with the Provincial Government of Quebec and the Federal Government of Canada actually entailed.

Hint: it wasn’t free cash, with respect to the CSeries – both are actual equity stakeholders and will be entitled to not just their money back, but any value generated from said shares.

If that’s a subsidy; then so is the largest tax break ever given by a state. Hint, it went to Boeing. If that’s a subsidy; then how is Airbus still around? Why did Boeing not destroy them when Eastern first got Airbus A300s?

You can go down this rabbit hole forever and continue to find instances where Boeing and Airbus were both given substantially more breathing room with respect to what the CSeries suit now defines as fair competition.

So why now? The Boeing 737 MAX can’t do everything, and nor can the Airbus A320neo. Given the age of both designs, the long wait times for new-builds, and the size of both models — there was a space where someone could come in underneath.

Well, in Boeing’s eyes — that’s a threat to the 737-7 MAX. Why buy the right-sized aircraft for the job when a discount so heavy on a MAX outweighs the operating inefficiencies in markets that only require 100 to 110 seats?

Because fuel is going to go up? Or, perhaps, because there is (was?) no law that said Delta had to buy Boeings. There’s never been a suit in American history where an OEM was able to win because… Oh, wait there was!

Remember the Airbus A330 MRTT aka KC-45? It was the next USAF tanker until it wasn’t. The KC-46, made by Boeing, is now the USAF’s KC-135 replacement. The U.S. Government regardless of administration is sending a bizarre message to American business. “Buy Boeing, or you won’t like the answer.”

That’s not America. I mean it is modern America where every industry has consolidated to the point where competition is a buzzword, but it’s not what America was founded on.

America was founded on the principle of free enterprise. How many politicians have decided it is not the government’s place to pick “winners and losers”? How many of them have turned their back on that position now?

Of course, we also must remember the CSeries is at least 55% American in terms of contribution to the aircraft.

Yup, Boeing managed to get the government not just to slap a disastrous tariff on a foreign airframer, they managed to hurt Pratt & Whitney as well as avionics and subsystem manufacturers. It’s almost like tariffs end up stagnating the market or something.

This sets a very dangerous precedent. How far is Boeing going to take this? They won against the CSeries, can they win against Embraer, Airbus? Anyone.

Boeing realized that the court is cheaper than engineering. Turns out they were right. Why innovate? The government can step in to protect your profits. Nah, that can’t be it. Clearly, the CSeries is just a bad aircraft built by bad people. Not just bad people, criminals! Why I never!

Did I mention that I have an RFP out for an agricultural helicopter? I hear that the 737 MAX is 300% better than a Bell-47-G4A. So, Boeing, since you have pricing power and a 300% better product. I’d love to talk to you about using a 737-8 MAX to dry cherries next season.

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Bernie Leighton

Bernie Leighton

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4 Comments

  1. TheToadCliqueFourOlds
    TheToadCliqueFourOlds October 07, 17:44

    Why do you not support the glorious innovation of the Comac C919? You should recognize the meritorious nature of such a meritorious craft.

  2. dannyisyourboy
    dannyisyourboy October 08, 07:49

    It’s almost as if this author is reserved from reality. Welcome to the 21st century. every company sues everybody else for big and small reasons.

    Boeing doesn’t need the sale, but its more about the precedent it sets. If you don’t defend the position, its as if you don’t care – in the eyes of the world. Bombardier has taken bailout money (presumably in good faith) then used it to do something very risky.

    I mean is bombardier going to make money on the deal? Prob not. Almost like they are expecting another bailout. Looks like someone doesn’t learn. Hopefully now they will.

  3. Walkingthedog
    Walkingthedog October 08, 13:49

    I love this article. From somebody outside of the USA it says what I have said before, once something threatens Boeing they throw all of their toys out of the cot. Sad.
    I hope Delta go ahead with the Cseries and then ignore Boeing when they place their next big order.
    I think Boeing have shot themselves in the foot.

  4. mmontano@montanostreet.com
    mmontano@montanostreet.com October 08, 16:09

    Boeing didn’t sue — they requested the US Commerce department to investigate alleged illegal subsidies.

    As the article notes, the definition of subsidy is lacking definition.

    But to get to an agreed definition of subsidy, especially after the fact, will take time — the exact thing Bombardier with unquestionably a great product, does not have.

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