Airbus and Boeing were producing widebodies at rates that were arguably too high even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The market for long-haul aircraft has been weak for several years, and Boeing was slow to adjust 787 rates in 2019 after expected orders from China failed to materialize. Airbus also stuck to its strategic goal of producing 10 A350s per month as it ramped up production. The rates have now been adjusted, but many analysts believe they are still high and provide more capacity than the market currently needs.
The short and not very satisfactory answer is inexperience. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) did not have a recent background in complete development of even a general aviation airplane when it set up Mitsubishi Aircraft in 2008 to develop the MRJ program, now called the SpaceJet.
Aviation Week Executive Editor for Technology Graham Warwick responds:
As a way to reduce airliner fuel consumption and emissions, electric taxiing looked technically promising when it was first demonstrated in 2005. But economic reality can be different. One project is progressing toward certification, but others have been canceled or put back on the shelf for future use.
Aviation Week Space Editor and Cape Canaveral Bureau Chief Irene Klotz responds:
NASA has learned to roll with the punches: It parlayed the George W. Bush administration’s Moon-Mars exploration program, known as Constellation, into the Obama-era asteroid rendezvous and relocation effort and now into the Trump administration’s initiative to land astronauts on the Moon in 2024.
The Netherlands’ Organization for Applied Scientific Research, Physics and Electronics Laboratory designed the Tanker Remote Vision System in 2006 for the McDonnell Douglas KDC-10. It is used on two tankers that serve in both tanking and transporting missions. The technology supports inflight refueling operators by providing a picture of the air-to-air tanking process, even in bad visual conditions.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting global economic crisis have created daunting challenges across the aerospace and aviation industries. Companies large and small face myriad questions on how to ride out the storm and position themselves to thrive when better times return.
To help fill that void, we launched our “Ask The Editors” feature. Readers can submit questions to our global team of editors. If we don’t have an answer, we’ll reach out to our large networks of experts to provide one.
Here is a roundup of some of the best questions and answers from this month. You can also view more answered questions on the Ask the Editor's page.