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The Dreamliner and the Brazilian F/A-18


Source:  Radar On-line (Veja magazine)

The Planalto Palace has two serious concerns with news of U.S. spying. First and most obviously, the presidential palace wants to know how close the U.S. spy agency got to the offices of the President and her ministers.

Another priority is to learn the extent of industrial espionage. A major risk, according to palace sources, is the potential violation of confidential information shared during the negotiations over the purchase of fighter jets for the Brazilian air force.

Not coincidentally,  Brasil continues to evaluate three models of fighter: French, Swedish and American.

The American entry is the Boeing F/A-18.

In its most recent “yellow pages” interview, Veja features Boeing’s Jim McNerny evaluating the opportunities present in the Brazilian market, an interview conducted at the Boeing offices in D.C.

Boeing and Brazil’s Embraer signed a memorandum of understanding on June 26 to jointly market Embraer’s medium airlifter, the KC-390 — above.

Veja’s softball interview — a specialty of the house — touches only briefly on the fighter order, but does focus, sympathetically,  on the woes suffered by the Boeing 787a story covered on July 15 by Veja’s business-themed sister publication Exame.

The exec says that all the lithium ion battery problems have now been resolved.

A July 15 story in Exame, however, suggests that the headache persists:

Boeing faces a revealing public test of the carbon-fiber technology used in its 787 Dreamliner after a fire broke out on one of its aircraft at Heathrow Airport, in London.

British investigators say that the lithium ion batteries on the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft probably did not cause the fire, alleviating concerns about the return of the problem that led to the cancellation of Dreamliner flights for more than three months earlier this year, when a battery caught fire and another overheated.

Wall Street and passengers so far seem unconcerned: Boeing shares are expected to stabilize on Monday [July 15] after falling 4.7% on Friday. The airlines are keeping their aircraft flying and passengers in Japan, the jet’s primary market, are not cancelling flights.

Japan is said to be refusing to declare the aircraft flightworthy, regarding which McNerney says,

Safety is critically important to the Japanese, as it is to us. In Japan, there is zero tolerance for safety issues. They are asking for evidence that nothing else is wrong. We will provide the evidence. The situation is totally normal. We have sold 59 aircraft to ten airlines, none of them, so far, Brazilian. But an Ethiopian Airlines  787 is beginning to land in Brazil, in São Paulo and Rio. By year end we will have delivered 110 aircraft.

According to a July 2 story in the Telegraph,

JAL and its rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) both blamed the grounding of their Dreamliner fleets for hitting revenues to the tune of $200m, prompting Boeing to print full-page apologies in major Japanese newspapers. Japan is the single-biggest market for Boeing’s newest aircraft.

Veja closes its yellow pages interview by asking in general terms about what it was like to run a company in a country where corruption is rife — a question the executive deftly avoided, saying, “I would not say that Brazil is dramatically worse” than other countries in this area.

The exec also makes a point of promising that the fighter sale would include the technology transfer demanded by the Brazilians.

The interview bears all the earmarks of a charm offensive — as in the subtitle in which McNerney is quoted as saying, “My response [to news of aviation disasters] is the same as anyone’s. Human tragedy is human tragedy.”

The yellow pages are known for their publicity-driven, hagiographical profiles, and this seems like no exception to the rule. Consider the following ridiculous softball exchange:

Q: Is the 787 an enormous innovation?

A: Without a doubt. It is what the 707 was in its day [launched in 1958, it was the first Boeing commercial jet and the first in its class to achieve commercial success.] The 787 offers airlines improved performance and fuel efficiency, less environmental damage and lower costs. It is a productivity tool.

Q: What are the advantages for passengers?

This follow-on  question lacks a “disadvantages” follow-up.

Exame again, however:

The question is, can the aircraft that caught fire be repaired easily at a reasonable cost? These specific repairs have never been conducted on a operation commercial airliner. That makes the Ethiopian Airline incident the first opportunity for airlines, financiers, and competitors to study a real-life example of how to repair the plane and and how much it will cost.

Diagnosis: a mild case of «autohagiography by proxy» — self-praise and self-defense in a quasi-journalistic genre.