COVID-19’s resurgence is rapidly dimming expectations for holiday travel in yet another blow to hard-hit civil aviation. Positive news that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has created a pathway to return Boeing’s 737 MAX to service and that several coronavirus vaccines promise to be more than 90% effective in curbing the disease won’t help commercial aerospace this year, nor early next.
Military spending, especially by the U.S. government, has been more reliable during the pandemic, buoying companies with strong defense portfolios. If you need any evidence, third-quarter results from prime contractors showed surprising strength and stability.
While revenues for Boeing Defense, Space & Security decreased to $6.8 billion for the quarter – down from $7 billion the same quarter last year for reasons unrelated to the pandemic – it’s still a better performance than Boeing Commercial Airplanes, where revenue decreased 56% (to $3.6 billion) compared to Q3 2019.
Boeing continued to receive contracts for its F-15EX fighter jet for the U.S. Air Force, MH-47G Block II Chinook helicopters for the U.S. Army, and service life extension for U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets. The backlog at Boeing Defense, Space & Security at the end of the third quarter was $62 billion, of which 30% represents foreign sales.
Airbus, better known for its airliners, ranks among the top 10 global defense companies. Despite an 11% decline in revenue vs. Q3 2019, Airbus Defence and Space’s order intake increased to $9.7 billion in Q3 2020. Its products include the Eurofighter; A330 MRTT tanker/transport; A400M and C295 military airlifters; and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR).
Pure defense companies fared better. Lockheed Martin reported sales of $16.5 billion for the third quarter, up from $15.2 billion in Q3 2019. The company’s backlog hit $150.4 billion, a record.
Northrop Grumman had a record third quarter, with sales increasing 7% to $9.1 billion from $8.5 billion in Q3 2019. Its free cash flow increased 22% to $1.1 billion and total backlog increased to a record $81.3 billion. Management raised its 2020 guidance and now expects sales of $35.7-to-$36.0 billion. Its products include the autonomous RQ-4 Global Hawk and Triton drones, plus the B-21 Raider long-range bomber replacement for the B-2 Spirit.
Strong defense spending helped Raytheon Technologies achieve third quarter sales of $14.7 billion, contributing to a $70.2 billion backlog. It’s more difficult to compare quarter to quarter since the April merger of Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Missiles & Defense with United Technologies’ Collins Aerospace Systems and Pratt & Whitney, but clearly, defense has proven a solid revenue stream.
Third-quarter numbers show defense spending is helping sustain the aerospace industrial base while the commercial sector languishes. The cash infusion has been an industry lifeline. Ironically, this spending has been immune to contentious Congressional debate – unlike measures to extend the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to airlines and civil aviation. – Eric
- Primary roles: Interceptor, strike, electronic combat
- First flight: August 14, 1974
- Number built: 990 (all variants)
- Primary users: Royal Air Force, German Air Force, Italian Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force
- Wingspan: 45ft 8" (13.9m) at 25° sweep
- Length: 54ft 10" (16.7m)
- Height: 19ft 6" (6.0m)
- Max. speed: Mach 2.2
- Engines: Turbo-Union RB199-34R Mk 103 afterburning turbofans
Aug/Sept 2020 winner
James S. Baum
Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
How long have you been in the aerospace business? 30 years
How did you become interested in aircraft? Back in high school with the Civil Air Patrol, and I continued.
What is your favorite aircraft and why? The Lockheed Constellation, as it is a thing of beauty, followed by the general-purpose Douglas C-47 transport.
Vice President Engineering
Zatorski Coating Co. Inc.
East Hampton, Connecticut
To enter the contest, visit www.AerospaceManufacturingAndDesign.com/Form/NameThatPlane and fill out the provided entry form. Only completed forms will qualify. A full set of rules is provided.
The entry deadline for this issue’s contest is Jan. 7, 2021. Winners will be announced in the March 2021 issue.
Have fun, and good luck!
Look what James won!
Enter today to win your own high-quality desktop aircraft replica!
As we are all learning how to live during this pandemic, there are ways that we can improve our part quality and not spend a lot of money.
Often when we experience quality problems on the shop floor, it’s due to poor tooling issues or the incorrect tool holder being used. When visiting customers as a tooling salesperson, we see tooling used by the operators in poor working condition. If we look at turning tools for instance, we recognize that the tool has been involved in a wreck on the machine and the nose of the tool is damaged, allowing the shim to be unsupported under the nose. If this is the case, replace the toolholder because this type of condition creates vibration in the tool and allows for a poor finish or difficulty holding size and/or finish.
If the machine has been involved in a wreck, it’s important to inspect the machine to see that it’s still on center. There are numerous ways to inspect this and see. The easiest way is to face a bar end and look to see that the machine is on-center and doesn’t leave a bump at the center of the bar. Some of today’s machines have alignment pins in the turret. If your machine has these pins, check to make sure these pins are not sheared or broken. If so, replace them immediately.
Often when we experience quality problems on the shop floor, it’s due to poor tooling issues or the incorrect tool holder being used.
Milling cutters are also tools that need to be maintained and inspected for damage. Many cutters no longer use shim seats in the cutter itself. Therefore, we need to make sure there is no damage in the pocket. This would include making sure there are no burrs on the floor of the seat as well as checking for any damage to the cutter wall. Any issues in these areas will not allow the insert to seat properly, harming finish and tool life.
Poor tool maintenance can lead to poor tool life. Poor tool life leads to down time, so make sure to set up a proper tool maintenance program in your shop. That will allow you to improve the uptime on your machine and ensure the quality of your parts meet specifications expected by your customer.
Keep in mind, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Mike Ramsey, president of CMR Consulting, retired from Kennametal Inc. as vice president, global machine tool industry sales, after 39 years of service in sales and marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Navy awarded Vertex Aerospace LLC a $123 million contracted maintenance, modification, aircrew, and related services (CMMARS) task order to provide aircraft maintenance and contractor logistics support (CLS) services for the U.S. Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier II fleet. The Madison, Mississippi-based aerospace company will support pilot training operations of Marine Aircraft Group-14, Marine Attack Training Squadron-203 (VMAT-203), and eventually Marine Attack Squadron-223, pending its merger with VMAT-203.
Vertex was awarded $2.9 million at the time of the task order, which includes maintenance, repairs, engineering and technical services, aircraft upgrades and modifications, and integrated logistics support services.
Vertex’s Aerospace Defense Services (ADS) division will provide organizational, intermediate, and depot-level maintenance and integrated logistics support services for the AV-8B aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, North Carolina; and Yuma, Arizona.
Honeywell secures US Army Chinook repair, overhaul contract
Honeywell has won a five-year contract for the repair and overhaul of its T55-GA-714A engines used by the U.S. Army’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Engines will be serviced at Honeywell’s new maintenance facility at the company’s aerospace global headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona.
The facility will place repair and overhaul work on the T55-GA-714A engine in the same location as new engine production. This allows the workforce to share resources between both engine lines, for a potential surge output of 20 engines per month that can be delivered to the U.S. Army, foreign military, and commercial customers.
“Honeywell remains committed to supporting the T55 engine and the CH-47F Chinook program with improved maintenance practices, expanded repair capacities, and engine modernization improvements that will meet the helicopter’s needs for years to come,” says Dave Marinick, president, Engines & Power Systems. “Every aspect of the layout and design of this new facility was carefully planned to ensure operational efficiency.”