:: Monthly Newsletters ::

The monthly newsletters are the cover page to the updates to the World Military and Civil Aircraft Briefing binder and include some of Richard's then-current thoughts on the industry.
October 3, 2019 :: October 2019 Letter - Dear Fellow Former Gruyere and Chateau Petrus Consumers,

Even as a young boy, I knew that the original Lost in Space was unbelievably bad science fiction. But looking back, I do appreciate one aspect of it: the robot, who was easily stopped when he ...   [More]

September 17, 2019 :: September 2019 Letter - Dear Fellow Fragmented Route Flyers,

Like you, fellow aerophiles, I am surrounded by friends and family who, impossible as it seems, have no contact with, or even interest in, airplanes. On the rare occasion they express interest in the World’s Best Industry...   [More]

August 13, 2019 :: July 2019 Letter - Dear Fellow Pacific Rim Low Cost Carrier Fans,

Do you like five bars on your smartphone at all times in all places? Trains and subways that arrive every five minutes, and go everywhere? Large electrical facilities that guarantee power, except when menaced by a huge, scaly ...   [More]

July 8, 2019 :: June 2019 Letter - Dear Fellow Tarmac Zombies,

This month, I had the pleasure of attending a globally famous aviation event. It attracted many companies, industry luminaries and others, all there to discuss important topics in what the attendees consider to be one of the most importan...   [More]

June 10, 2019 :: May 2019 Letter - Dear Fellow Divestiture Watchers,

The best way to create a medium-sized aircraft company is to start with a large one. Bombardier has spent the past month (and perhaps the least 14 years) proving that. The formerly mighty Canadian Aero Giant once sprawled over the wo...   [More]

May 5, 2019 :: April 2019 Letter - Dear Fellow Company Anthropologists,

To my deep regret, my only personal contact with Herb Kelleher, the great founder of Southwest Airlines who died in January, was, predictably, over a drink in a bar. As for any aviation fan, that moment made my list of career hi...   [More]

April 1, 2019 :: March 2019 Letter - Dear Fellow World-Weary World Watchers,

Useful phrase for Boeing people in China: Zhè gāo yú wǒ de gōngzī děngjí. If Google Translate works, that’s mandarin for “That’s above my pay grade.” Over the past few weeks, Boeing’s China sit...   [More]

March 7, 2019 :: February 2019 Letter - Dear Fellow Obscure Island Dispute Watchers,

Fighter jets are geopolitics with wings. If I’ve stolen this line from someone, apologies – there were no Google hits. Recent global political trends are having a big impact on the fighter market. My last letter discu...   [More]

December 24, 2018 :: December 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Aero TrendWatchers,

Big theme for 2018? How to put this gently…The world got worse. It’s tough to quantify the world getting worse. But it did. In Germany, Angela Merkel announced that she would quit her job as the world’s Adult In T...   [More]

November 29, 2018 :: November 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow New Org Chart Watchers,

For years, the world has watched for the next emerging jet producer. Will it be in Bandung, Sao Jose dos Campos, Beijing, or Nagoya? Perhaps we should look in Connecticut and Iowa. The new United Technologies, cr...   [More]

November 12, 2018 :: October 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Aero Book Club Affiliates,

If civilization is destroyed – as of now, I’d give this 60% odds – space alien museum curators, or whoever, will one day need to know what our beloved industry looked like. Finally, we have the perfect guide, for the aliens tomorro...   [More]

October 5, 2018 :: September 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Air Power Observers,

Congress gets a bad rap. Often viewed as a bunch of do-nothings, the US government’s legislative branch can act decisively. Take, for example, OA-X, the nascent USAF acquisition program covering scores or hundreds ...   [More]

August 21, 2018 :: August 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Global Crisis Junkies,

There’s this country. It’s an emerging market with fast economic growth and outsized aerospace industry aspirations. Unfortunately, the government is deeply incompetent, and uses a thin veneer of nationalism, religion, and...   [More]

August 3, 2018 :: July 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Happy Farnborough Tarmac Pounders,

Every few years, the good people behind the Farnborough Air Show wake up early, put on a pot of tea, and exclaim, “Oh right…we’re supposed to hold an air show today. How do we do that again?” The results are chaotic and...   [More]

July 6, 2018 :: June 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Critical Mass Critics,

Regards from Nova Scotia, a green, eco-friendly paradise offering tasty lobsters, quirky wine, and lovely hiking. Incongruously, it once thrived as an industrial center. Nova Scotia factories built cars, machine tools, and ships. T...   [More]

June 12, 2018 :: May 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Horizontal Flight Admirers,

Death Spirals have threatened defense programs for decades. Death Spirals happen when a program’s unit cost rises, resulting in lawmakers punishing the program by cutting procurement numbers. Reduced numbers further raise unit ...   [More]

May 23, 2018 :: April 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Enthusiasts,

Being the 737 is a thankless job. That’s my conclusion looking back on April. And since aircraft, like corporations in some people’s worldview, are people, my friend, the 737 might need some cheering up.

First, th...   [More]

April 5, 2018 :: March 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Aero Trade Worriers,

Artificial intelligence. Election-manipulating trollbots. Dumb, bird-themed emojis. It’s just a matter of time before something computerized starts a war. And now, we’re part of the way there: a trade database is on the verge...   [More]

March 6, 2018 :: February 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow Post-Communist Travelers,

One pleasure of middle age is revisiting places after a multi-decade interval. In January I enjoyed a visit to Moscow, where I hadn’t been since 1986. There had been a few changes. In 1986 there was zero economic or politica...   [More]

February 11, 2018 :: January 2018 Letter - Dear Fellow 2017 Skin-of-Teeth Survivors,

I’m way late with this year-end letter, but before the 365-day atrocity that was 2017 fades from our collective memory, I’d like to briefly summarize what just happened, from our industry’s perspective. Here’s my list of ...   [More]

December 24, 2017 :: November 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Seasonal Procrastinators,

It’s always like this for me at Christmas. I say I’ll buy gifts in advance, but then a few days before the great unwrapping, I run out and panic shop. The results are predictably hideous. In my defense, I’m Jewish, so this i...   [More]

October 17, 2017 :: October 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Franco-Quebecois Alliance Observers,

Right. We all value time, and this is a time-sensitive moment. Let’s keep this simple – winners and losers in the sudden new Airbus C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP) deal:

Biggest Winner: the CSe...   [More]

October 2, 2017 :: September 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Pain Avoiders,

One of the hardest tasks faced by any aerospace company’s leadership team is deciding when, exactly, they should stop shooting themselves in the foot. This kind of ill-advised behavior is rare, but with Boeing’s trade complaint against Cana...   [More]

September 5, 2017 :: August 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Peripatetic Aerophiles,

How great is my family? Having stumbled onto an aviation book store in the least likely of places – Dingwall, Scotland, north of Inverness – they quickly realized that if I didn’t have an hour there I’d be in a foul mood for the rest o...   [More]

July 21, 2017 :: July 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Schengen Agreement Defenders,

France’s aerospace industry tells one of the happiest stories of the 20th century. Created and built in parts of France as far from Germany as possible to be far away from wars, it finished the century in fruitful ...   [More]

July 5, 2017 :: June 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Le Bourget Melted Tarmac Connoisseurs,

Spexit. I didn’t invent this funny word; it currently gets 49,100 Google hits, and refers to a Spanish EU exit. It’s not a popular idea. Even in Catalonia, where I am now, where just under half the population...   [More]

June 14, 2017 :: May 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Private Aviation Aspirants,

One Quixotic artifact of the A380 era is an Airbus-run website,, that allows passengers to select flights featuring that plane. I don’t know if anyone has actually used this tool to plan travel, but if the site has i...   [More]

May 14, 2017 :: April 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Northern Border Watchers,

One easy mistake to make, in war or business, is emphasizing tactics over strategy. Broadly, Tactics are the Hows: plans and execution; Strategy is the Whys: the long-term goals and agendas. They are...   [More]

April 10, 2017 :: March 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Pre-Disrupted Aero Universe Inhabitants,

New Aircraft Concepts! We’ve got New Aircraft Concepts! After decades of zero market entrants, there’s a sudden flood of new big ideas. A few wannabe aircraft companies are usually around, but concept drawings have prol...   [More]

March 3, 2017 :: February 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Aero-Theologians,

“God Bless Boeing.” Thus spoke President Trump, on his visit to Boeing Charleston earlier this month. For any business, if a president believes he can bring God’s blessings, it’s best to go along with him. The downside is th...   [More]

February 1, 2017 :: January 2017 Letter - Dear Fellow Forlorn Trade Fans,

Useful corporate management anecdote: in business, there are A players, B players, and C players. They all see Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about a brilliant octogenarian Japanese chef. The A players watch the movie, ...   [More]

December 19, 2016 :: December 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow Brexit, Turkey Coup, Mideast Horror, and, oh, right…US Election…Survivors,

Last year’s December letter presented the companies and aircraft that experienced a strange mix of very good and very bad fortune in 2015. This year was a lot less ambiguous; so, I’m...   [More]

December 10, 2016 :: November 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow Election Hangover Sufferers,

Defense programs and requirements are complicated. What capabilities and technologies do the nation’s armed forces need? What can the US afford? What metrics are best to assess program effectiveness, contrac...   [More]

November 3, 2016 :: October 2016 Letter - Dear International Arbitration Enthusiasts,

As part of Teal Group’s commitment to bring you timely market intelligence, I am delighted to announce my new regular column devoted to the latest developments in the WTO jetliner trade case between the US and th...   [More]

October 10, 2016 :: September 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow Obscure MiG Design Fans,

The Soviet aerospace industry had one notable quirk: it separated design and manufacturing into separate functions. Aircraft were designed by a bureau (Tupolev, Ilyushin, etc.) and then built by a different manufactur...   [More]

October 4, 2016 :: August 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow Calm Observers Of The Collapsing World,

As promised, August’s letter follows last month’s letter, about this summer’s terrifying collapse of world civilization. The world is turning away from globalism, market economy, and liberal democracy, as evidenced by <...   [More]

August 24, 2016 :: July 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow News Avoiders,

It’s been a nice summer. The kids enjoyed summer camp and a beach vacation in the Outer Banks, and my family also had a good time in Northern California. My wife and I visited Napa for a few days. Even Farnborough passed with few ha...   [More]

June 27, 2016 :: June 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow Farnborough Show Dread-ers,

For analysts like me, Boeing today can be summed up nicely by the following three quotes:

“If I told you that I am and want to be a market leader in the fighter business, you all would tell me that I’m an idiot. Let...   [More]

June 13, 2016 :: May 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow Toronto Property Shoppers,

Crow. Humble pie. Ten years of Teal Group CSeries commentaries and reports. These are among the things that Bombardier management could have reasonably requested that I eat for lunch during my recent visit to Montreal. Bu...   [More]

May 4, 2016 :: April 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow Necronomicon Readers,

One of the hardest decisions for anyone is whether or not to raise the dead. Countless cheesy 1950s horror flicks, coupled with the works of HP Lovecraft, clearly show that it is not a good idea. Yet sometimes it’s hard to resist t...   [More]

April 26, 2016 :: March 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow Global Conflict Observers,

Spend time on tall buildings in Tel Aviv, as I did recently, and you often hear the word “operation.” People say, “Looks like an operation” or “Some kind of operation” or “Must be an operation going on.” Jet fighter exh...   [More]

March 25, 2016 :: February 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow One-Person Procurement Agencies,

My car is ten years old. When I buy a new one, I’ll look at several brands. But I don’t think I’ll look at cars built by the Department of Motor Vehicles. For one, I don’t think the DMV builds cars. For another, it’s ...   [More]

February 3, 2016 :: January 2016 Letter - Dear Fellow 2016 Global Reality Avoiders,

To understand the aerospace industry, you should follow at least 100 companies. But to understand the world today, you just need to follow one aerospace company. You can see most of the horrible headlines that we’v...   [More]

December 22, 2015 :: December 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow Year-End Industry Reckoners,

In my last year-end letter I compiled a list of 2014’s five winners and five losers in the aircraft industry. But my impression of the past year is somewhat mixed: I can think of companies that experienced both extremely good an...   [More]

December 1, 2015 :: November 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow World Airport Wanderers,

My profession has an easy sanity check. If a forecaster frequently uses the phrase If current trends continue…he needs a new career. Status quo bias is a toxic mindset, because current trends almost never...   [More]

October 28, 2015 :: October 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow Canadian Election Watchers,

In the words of noted American philosopher Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan ‘til they get punched in the mouth.” The CSeries plan was always a few Molsons short of a six pack (“What could go wrong? It’s not like our competi...   [More]

October 9, 2015 :: September 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow Foreign Dignitary Visit Enthusiasts,

In honor of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the US (and to Boeing), I have prepared a two-page China market study. The bottom line finding of this mini-study: China matters more than ever as an aircraf...   [More]

August 31, 2015 :: August 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow New Aircraft Program Enthusiasts,

Time to talk LRS-B. The USAF will decide next month if Boeing/Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman will build the next strategic bomber. I can’t handicap this competition. Nobody outside of the selection committe...   [More]

July 28, 2015 :: July 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow Reconciliation Fans,

Sometimes, old adversaries can sit down and find common ground. It’s funny to think about the meetings that take place; leaders who had fiercely criticized each other in the strongest terms now getting together and reaching historic ...   [More]

July 15, 2015 :: June 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow Le Bourget GroundPounders,

About 25 years ago, the great political commentator James Fallows wrote More Like Us, a thoughtful book arguing that the US’s best way to compete against global economic challengers (Japan then, China now) was to be more...   [More]

June 9, 2015 :: May 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow Flatlanders,

Larry David popularized the term Curb Your Enthusiasm as a self-deprecating comment on his own cynicism. After ten days in Europe, I’d also use it as a description for Europe’s civil, business, and military aero markets, which are quite flat ...   [More]

April 27, 2015 :: April 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow Foreign Film Festival Attendees,

Bollywood romantic comedies often feature a goofy fat guy with lots of eyeliner who constantly gets in the way of the two lovers’ first kiss. At the end of the movie, the romantic couple finds a way to distract hi...   [More]

March 19, 2015 :: March 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow New Technology Obsessives,

Greil Marcus, a music critic, wrote a great Village Voice essay, “Rock Death in the 1970s: A Sweepstakes.” It examined each 1970s rock musician and their death, scoring them 1-10 on the basis of three categories: Qualit...   [More]

February 25, 2015 :: February 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow Cromnibus Scrutinizers,

Teal Group’s aircraft reports cover about 135 planes. Having written or edited these reports for 25 years as of January, I’ve come to know these planes like friends. But I never wrote a report on the iconic A-10 because it end...   [More]

January 27, 2015 :: January 2015 Letter - Dear Fellow Paused Program Mourners,

Forecasting an aircraft death is sad work. Each zeroed production line tells a tragic story of jobs lost, lives changed, and, of course, dead aircraft. Worse, there can be a contagion effect; killing one program can lead to de...   [More]

December 19, 2014 :: December 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Year-End List Enthusiasts,

Sure, I could write yet another letter about the A380. My favorite target was back in the news for all the wrong reasons this month. Airbus spent its investors’ conference grappling with the A380’s grim commercial situation...   [More]

November 25, 2014 :: November 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Aviation Industry Tourists,

To paraphrase Churchill, for decades I’ve had my own ideas about Embraer, and I didn’t want them changed by any Embraerians. I’d always respected Embraer, as does much of the aerospace industry – if aerospace companies were resta...   [More]

October 22, 2014 :: October 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Turf Watchers,

My job, my career, and indeed much of my non-family life revolve around inhabited aircraft. Not UAVs; other people cover that waterfront at Teal. And while I don’t regard them as a threat to my beloved inhabited aircraft, I am kind of intrigue...   [More]

September 23, 2014 :: September 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Channel Surfers,

I don’t want to make a documentary. I want to make a documentary about the making of a documentary. This meta concept seems appropriate after watching Al Jazeera’s Broken Dreams. You can find it at   [More]

September 5, 2014 :: August 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Market Economy Participants,

“It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” That chilling quote is from a character in George Orwell’s 1984. As someone who likes to write, I usually disagree with that sentiment. But every so often, a word m...   [More]

July 22, 2014 :: July 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Air Show Shirkers,

Last week, I had some extra time to catch up on newspapers, supervise our helpful interns, and return emails to old pals. In other words, I didn’t go to Farnborough for the first time in over a decade. But I got the gist of the show in one he...   [More]

June 30, 2014 :: June 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Washington Policy Fans,

Remember the Airbus/EU-Boeing/US WTO case? It never really went away, but whenever we hear echoes of both sides pleading their side, we’ve mostly learned to tune them out. But this summer we’re in for a similar controversy with th...   [More]

June 2, 2014 :: May 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Battlefield Tourists,

Cemeteries are sad; sadder still is a large field of unmarked graves. After this year’s Berlin Air Show (ILA), my Teal colleagues Bill Storey, Joel Johnson, Phil Finnegan and I all trundled off on a road trip to see battlefields in Eastern ...   [More]

May 12, 2014 :: April 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Futurism Fans,

As science fiction writer William Gibson quipped, “The future has already arrived. It’s just unevenly distributed.” The National Aeronautic Association Collier Trophy Committee is a great place to see present-day glimpses of our industry’...   [More]

March 20, 2014 :: March 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Aerospace Component Aficionados,

To create a good plane, aircraft designers need to be good shoppers. Just as airlines need the freedom to source the best planes for their needs, airplane designers need the freedom to source the best equipment at the best p...   [More]

March 8, 2014 :: February 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Global Tension Observers,

Like many people who went to college in the Reagan years, my geopolitical worldview was shaped by movies like Top Gun. Dick Bitzinger, Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, recently remi...   [More]

January 15, 2014 :: January 2014 Letter - Dear Fellow Sudden Aircraft Industry Labor Relations Watchers,

“It's such a fine line between clever and stupid.” Thus opined David St. Hubbins of the mock rock band Spinal Tap. This idea has never been better illustrated than the recent Boeing/IAM 751 con...   [More]

December 26, 2013 :: December 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow International Relations Enthusiasts,

So you’re walking along the street, and you get drawn into a mob. They’re angrily chanting something, and you join them and go along for a while, but then you suddenly realize you’re all shouting incoherent non...   [More]

November 26, 2013 :: November 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow Manufacturing Site Geography Students,

Dr. McCoy had Star Trek’s best catchphrase: Dammit Jim! I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer (or another occupation). I’ve been channeling the beloved doctor these days in discussions about Boeing’s 777X pro...   [More]

October 9, 2013 :: October 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow North Pacific Watchers,

Two Northeast Asia market disasters for Boeing in just two weeks. Behind that headline are two different meanings. The F-15’s loss in South Korea in late September was not Boeing’s fault at all (see my September letter). Japan ...   [More]

September 26, 2013 :: September 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow Fighter Requirements Aficionados,

Years ago, my high school friends and I passed through that great American ritual known as college application letter day. For some reason, most of the letters arrived the same day. A fat letter indicated acceptance...   [More]

August 23, 2013 :: August 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow Mid-life Non-Malcontents,

I turn 50 this month. No condolence cards, please. I’m not whining. I’m one of the happier and luckiest people you’ll meet. Great wife, two great kids, great house, great friends, great job, great boss, good health. My wine cellar is...   [More]

July 9, 2013 :: July 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow Excess Liquidity Observers,

Got cash? Most businesses do. Corporations now hold a record level of total assets in liquid form. Financial institutions have access to cash from central banks at record low rates (just bring a wheelbarrow). But there aren’t...   [More]

July 3, 2013 :: June 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow Le Bourget Non-Enthusiasts,

Nothing disrupts like big air shows. They disrupt your schedule for weeks, they disrupt your diet, exercise regimen, and family life, and, in France, they are almost always disrupted by some labor dispute involving a disgruntl...   [More]

May 24, 2013 :: May 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow Aero-Oenophiles,

It’s nice to have a perfect vacation day. A day when everything goes well, despite the friction of travel. I recently enjoyed such a day, at a lovely winery in some beautiful hills. The pinot noir was delicious; local goat cheese went well with ...   [More]

April 22, 2013 :: April 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow Free Trade Fans,

If The Devil appears on earth, he probably won’t be sporting a red tail and a pitchfork. Rather, he will appear to be quite adorable, even cuddly. Perhaps like Porter Airline’s raccoon logo. That’s the conclusion I drew after Porter’s C...   [More]

April 2, 2013 :: March 2013 Letter - Dear Fellow Aero Science Fans,

Hard work never killed anyone, but why take the chance? For the second year, I have just had the honor of serving on the Collier Committee, and this year it was hard work. Last year’s Collier selection (described in my March 2012 letter) was...   [More]

March 1, 2013 :: February 2013 Letter - February 2013

Dear Fellow Recent Battery Enthusiasts,

I’m not an engineer. But good engineering is like irony: you know it when you see it. This brings up the delicate subject of the new proposed 787 battery containment system. For readers who’ve been confin...   [More]

February 6, 2013 :: January 2013 Letter - January 2013

Dear Fellow Anti-Change Agents,

I don’t like change. But every so often, I’m forced to re-examine my long-held beliefs. This is one of those moments.

During my 25 years as an aerospace industry analyst, Boeing looked more com...   [More]

December 28, 2012 :: December 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow Family Historians,

The Twentieth Century was shaped by aviation. Individual lives, even when they had nothing directly to do with airlines, aircraft or aerospace, show a fascinating interaction with the growth of one of the world’s most important ind...   [More]

December 11, 2012 :: November 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow Foreign Language School Dropouts,

Now and then, I’ll get an email from a foreign pal referring to “aircrafts.” Native English speakers recognize this as a non-word (the plural of “aircraft” is of course “aircraft”) but it’s an easy mistake to ...   [More]

November 6, 2012 :: October 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow Fear Embracers,

Remember when an aircraft could scare you? Not like, “For Halloween, I’m going as the A380 Business Plan. Boo!” scared, but like, “The new MiG-25 can do Mach 3 and will shoot down all our XB-70 Valkyries and then t...   [More]

September 20, 2012 :: September 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow Innocents Abroad,

The Berlin Air Show has much in common with the Teal Group: it’s low-key, kind of quirky, and beer is frequently served. Since the mid ‘90s we’ve regarded ILA as a great opportunity for a company off-site meeting. It’s much ...   [More]

August 21, 2012 :: August 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow Boeing-ologists,

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Looking at Boeing, that saying, attributed to Mark Twain, rings true. The company seems to be falling into a pattern that’s all too familiar.

Consider events this year. In...   [More]

July 19, 2012 :: July 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow “China” Watchers,

Remember those cartoon characters whose eyes would pop out with dollar signs at the mention of something lucrative? Someone would say “oil well” or “gold mine” and Pluto or Yosemite Sam or whoever would get irrationally excited? Sadly, irratio...   [More]

July 17, 2012 :: June 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow Three Martini Playdate Enthusiasts,

Like many analysts, I do my best research over gin. It’s my policy to not endorse products in this letter, but recently I was enjoying Plymouth gin with a friend, and he told me that this successful brand was actually ...   [More]

June 10, 2012 :: May 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow Contrarianistas,

To succeed as an aircraft industry analyst, I’d offer simple advice: Whatever most people seem to be thinking about technology, consider the opposite. That’s the conclusion I reached one recent sunny day this month in London, when I met w...   [More]

April 21, 2012 :: April 2012 Letter - Dear Fighter Market Price Negotiators,

Bad corporate slogan concept: “Greatness through Mediocrity.” Some companies embody mediocrity, but who wants to advertise it? Yet sometimes, great companies and great people produce great things with mediocrity. Exampl...   [More]

March 30, 2012 :: March 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow Armchair Aero Legend Adjudicators,

As movie fans know, what happens in Fight Club stays in Fight Club. Thankfully, the same isn’t true of Collier Club. Having just had the honor of serving on the 2011 Collier Selection committee, established to choose t...   [More]

March 11, 2012 :: February 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow International Relations Fans,

My grandparents and great grandparents, fleeing war and pogroms in their home countries, were right about America being the land of opportunity. But times have changed. Foreign aircraft manufacturers, fleeing draconian defense ...   [More]

February 3, 2012 :: January 2012 Letter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Industry Output Watchers,

We’ve updated Teal’s spreadsheets with fourth quarter numbers, and I have good news: 2011 was a good year for aircraft, and 2012 looks better still. Total industry output by value expanded 4.1% over 2010. Looking at ...   [More]

December 27, 2011 :: December 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Northern Border Watchers,

There is no better holiday gift for a monthly columnist than the sudden arrival of a year-end theme. Sometimes, something happens in December that brilliantly frames the entire year and gives it a coherence that it ce...   [More]

December 2, 2011 :: November 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Glass Half Full Types,

That bratty kid from Catcher In The Rye was right. The world is filled with crummy jerks. But I’ve got great news. We’ve got a system set up to admirably deal with crummy jerks.

This month saw two dire-soundin...   [More]

October 27, 2011 :: October 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Literary Pub Crawl Enthusiasts,

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde’s only novel, told the story of a hedonistic man who led a decadent life with no visible ill effects. There was one catch – he had a portrait in the attic showing him aging...   [More]

September 30, 2011 :: September 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Last Decade Survivors,

What’s your 9/11 story? Turns out it wasn’t some cliché…most of us really do remember where we were that day ten years ago. My anecdote, thankfully, isn’t at all traumatic. I had lunch scheduled with a friend near the White Ho...   [More]

August 18, 2011 :: August 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Frequent Air Vehicle Inhabitants,

UAVs punch above their weight on the battlefield, but more so in public attention. The only aircraft stories in the daily paper A section, it seems, feature UAVs. Fighter sales, commercial jet orders, and even air strikes get...   [More]

July 19, 2011 :: July 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Gas Turbine Engine Enthusiasts,

For great design, it’s tough to beat the Jaguar E-Type. Its beautiful (and suggestive) shape makes it one of the most-loved cars in history, with excellent performance to match. Yet there’s a disconnect between form and fu...   [More]

June 18, 2011 :: June 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Program Funeral Attendees,

“Wake Up and Die Right.” This priceless advice was offered by a colleague in a recent forecasting session. It concerned an aircraft program that had died a while back, for good reasons, and was undergoing yet another ...   [More]

May 10, 2011 :: May 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Air Show Bystanders,

Day Four, Le Bourget. Your 2:15 just cancelled on you, leaving a one hour hole in your schedule. After getting the bum’s rush from a French company chalet by a Carla Bruni-Sarkozy lookalike, you find yourself back dodging golf carts in the s...   [More]

May 1, 2011 :: April 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Sino-Aero-Doubters,

“Know why this place stinks? You’re a loser in your home town. Where do you go? Los Angeles.” Thus spoke my friend Richard, an incorrigibly cynical LA-based coffee dealer with uncharitable thoughts about his home city. I like ...   [More]

April 4, 2011 :: March 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Portu-philes,

Many countries can be called aviation powers. Whether for cultural, historical, or economic reasons, aviation plays a prominent role in some societies, reflected in a rich heritage of designers, industries, and operators. Unfortunately, Po...   [More]

February 28, 2011 :: February 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow KC-X Exhaustees,

Is there anything left to say about KC-X? Of course. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. Besides, I’m an industry analyst, and I’m not expected to not write about KC-X. It would be like a trade lawyer shying away from billable h...   [More]

February 1, 2011 :: January 2011 Letter - Dear Fellow Defense Budget Worrywarts,

The word “exquisite” usually connotes good things – beautiful, ornate, something expensive that rescues us from doom on Valentine’s Day, etc. But in the new parlance of our budget-conscious times, DoD has given the word a ne...   [More]

January 4, 2011 :: December 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Big Idea Fans,

According to some, the decade has just ended. For our industry, it was an exciting one. The world’s two big jetmakers spent the decade taking very different paths, a marked divergence in outlook and strategy. Yet strangely, they’ve come back ...   [More]

November 29, 2010 :: November 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Single Aisle Game Players,

People perceive value in very different ways. A young Albert Brooks put it best. As a precocious valedictorian in the movie Broadcast News, he gets the tar beaten out of him by three toughs. As they walk away leaving...   [More]

October 28, 2010 :: October 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Alternative History Fans,

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be. That’s a common aphorism, but I never felt it so keenly as when I look back at the A-12 attack aircraft program. The most expensive aircraft that never was is back in the news, afte...   [More]

October 12, 2010 :: September 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Flat Earth Dreamers,

Ten years ago, differences in economic philosophy between the US and Europe seemed to be narrowing. Now, they’re widening. Consider the protracted conflict between Boeing and Airbus that's still unfolding at the WTO. As the two aerospa...   [More]

September 8, 2010 :: August 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Wannabe Travel Writers,

The best travel story I’ve ever heard came from my friend Dan, who spent six months on a tropical island. The island had palm trees, beaches, and a pizza restaurant. One day, he ordered a medium pizza, which was cut into ...   [More]

August 3, 2010 :: July 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Potential Aircraft Leasing Investors,

Jumbo Shrimp. Freezer burn. Friendly Fire. Profitable Airlines. Everyone chuckles at oxymorons. I would add a new one: Happy Farnborough. As in, “what a happy Farnborough Air Show.” Yet we just had one (strang...   [More]

June 30, 2010 :: June 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Bad Car Aficionados,

Can’t decide which car to buy? If you’d like a reminder of what life is like if you can’t make basic consumer choices, rent a Trabant, East Germany’s contribution to the Museum of Commie Industrial Atrocities. Today, bad car lovers r...   [More]

June 4, 2010 :: May 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow M4 Sufferers,

Sometimes two analysts can be twice as wrong. Two years ago on our drive out to Farnborough Aerostrategy’s Kevin Michaels and I discussed the dramatic events of the week. As a colleague recited a grim litany of headlines covering mass...   [More]

April 20, 2010 :: April 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Free Weapons Market Advocates,

Looking for unexploded munitions? I strongly advise you to not work in conjunction with the Thai military. According to The Straits Times, (February 2, 2010), the Thai Army is equipped with a dubious “bomb de...   [More]

March 15, 2010 :: March 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow KC-X Enthusiasts,

About thirty years ago my application to Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service was rejected. They had good reasons to do this. For one, I was a mediocre high school student. But they also might have been prescient, anticipating th...   [More]

February 27, 2010 :: February 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Frequent Flyer Mile Accumulators,

If you’d like to be a pundit, one surefire way to start is by genuflecting toward Asia. Just say the magic words, “This is the Pacific Century.” There’s plenty of economic and demographic data to back you up, so take...   [More]

January 18, 2010 :: January 2010 Letter - Dear Fellow Workplace Returnees,

It’s time for my annual travel letter. I'll spare you the details of how we came to spend three weeks in South Florida. Suffice to say I expected an absence of aviation content, and I don’t have a lot to work with. But one pleasant surpr...   [More]

December 26, 2009 :: December 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Seasonal Worryworts,

One sentence that’s sure to bring joy and cheer in this festive season: It is no longer 2009. The economy, the airlines and the business jet industry spent the first half of the year in free-fall. While we’re nowher...   [More]

December 1, 2009 :: November 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Commie-Era Reminiscers,

Twenty years ago this month, Europe had one of its best days ever when the Berlin Wall was smashed down. This anniversary provides a great opportunity for societal introspection about what the Wall’s collapse meant. Fro...   [More]

October 31, 2009 :: October 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Travelling Imbibers,

The first time I saw a restaurant in Italy advertising Slow Food I thought they might serve something that’s tasty but still moving and not quite dead. But, it seems, the Slow Food movement celebrates time-in...   [More]

October 2, 2009 :: September 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Forlorn Free Trade Fans,

If, like me, you were a high school Model UN club nerd, and if you like multilateral institutions that promote harmony and good relations among countries, I’ve got great news: the WTO seems to be working. After spendi...   [More]

September 15, 2009 :: August 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Boomers, Pre-Boomers, And Post-Boomers,

In case you missed it, many folks are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. There’s a new movie, copious media coverage, and probably more than a few 60-something ex-hippies taking their hash pipes and Hendrix ...   [More]

July 11, 2009 :: July 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow DayDreamliner Believers,

The battle of Jutland didn’t start well for the Royal Navy. As the British and German fleets fired their opening rounds, three RN capital ships took direct hits. Two were battlecruisers that blew up and sank, taking thousands of ...   [More]

July 9, 2009 :: June 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Air Show Schleppers,

Ask any auto company crash test dummy. The only thing worse than crashing in a car without an air bag is crashing without an air bag while under the illusion that you do actually have one. The jetliner industry finds itself in...   [More]

June 7, 2009 :: May 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Rifle Range Historians,

Permit me to introduce a recent addition to the Aboulafia household: A Lee-Enfield .303 rifle. I acquired it recently from Larry Albright’s gun shop in Easton, Maryland, after Larry, who once joined the Teal entourage at the Berlin...   [More]

April 18, 2009 :: April 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Transatlanticizers,

Here’s a good indicator that an aircraft program is in serious trouble: the company’s top executive starts channeling Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now (“The horror…the horror”). That isn’t quite wh...   [More]

April 4, 2009 :: March 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Program Overrun Observers,

Scientology. Religion? Cult? Practical joke gone wrong? Whatever you believe, the defense industry can learn a lot from the belief system inspired by L. Ron Hubbard’s pulp novels. There’s a key Scientology character named L...   [More]

March 6, 2009 :: February 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Occasion Observers,

Second weddings are common. Second funerals are not. But we might be close to seeing one. At the end of January, Bombardier passed its objective date for converting Lufthansa’s curious CSeries Letter of Interest in...   [More]

February 14, 2009 :: January 2009 Letter - Dear Fellow Post Vacation Re-Adjustors,

It’s time for my annual travel/aircraft market newsletter. Every January we go somewhere fun and I try to spin it into something aviation market related. But it didn’t work out so great this year. First, like a lot of peopl...   [More]

January 14, 2009 :: December 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Airplane Obsessors,

This is not another letter about Eclipse. Honestly. I have no desire to continue kicking that dead horse. Besides, it’s Christmas. Let’s play nice. But as I reflect back on Eclipse's inevitable collapse, I’ve never seen a better e...   [More]

December 3, 2008 :: November 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Credit Risks,

Years ago my mom gave me a pretty objet d’art known as depression glass. It has an interesting back story. The glass factories of West Virginia and nearby states, built during the go-go 1920s, found themselves without business af...   [More]

October 27, 2008 :: October 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Aviation Tourists,

I grew up in Long Island. Somebody had to. It wasn’t without its consolations. LI was a major cluster of aircraft production, with a proud legacy of important planes, some of which helped win World War II. I tried to total it all a...   [More]

October 2, 2008 :: September 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Distressed Debt Fans,

The funny thing about finance is how durable it sounds. Words like “mechanism,” “instrument,” “securitized,” “structured,” and “vehicle” all connote security, tangibility, and hardness. Combine a few of these terms and you crea...   [More]

August 21, 2008 :: August 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Anti-Disruptive Technologists,

The aviation business gets sleepy after Farnborough. Things are nice and quiet. Yet I woke up on July 29th to interesting news: Vern Raburn, CEO and founder of Eclipse Aviation, was ousted as a pre-condition for the company’s ne...   [More]

July 27, 2008 :: July 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Anglophone Aerophiles,

Few cartoon characters match Wile E. Coyote for metaphors. The failed carnivore runs off cliffs or paddles over waterfalls, going straight into mid air until he realizes that there’s nothing beneath him, and he falls into so...   [More]

June 26, 2008 :: June 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Dismayees,

Like any roller coaster ride, the tanker saga can make you queasy if you stay with it too long. Everyone involved in this ghastly affair is going to get queasier. The Government Accountability Office has sustained Boeing’s tanker contract protest, gu...   [More]

May 24, 2008 :: May 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Technology Transfer Skeptics,

Seeking hope in these troubled times? As usual, look no further than Australia. The Australian military, whose procurement practices are among the most professional and transparent in the world, has taken a major step. They h...   [More]

May 10, 2008 :: April 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Problem Avoiders,

A time machine. A perpetual motion device. A talking camel. Despite the best efforts of brilliant inventors, many great concepts have eluded mankind’s grasp. But the most elusive of all is the Somebody Else’s Problem field. This...   [More]

March 13, 2008 :: March 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Shock Victims,

Political talk shows are a dismal form of entertainment. Self-aggrandizing pundits yammering on ("Giuliani is clearly the man to beat") are a terrible cure for a Sunday morning hangover. Yet consider this: a few weeks before EADS/Northrop's surp...   [More]

February 25, 2008 :: February 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Safari Lovers,

There is one true test for the aviation enthusiast: propensity to spend $13,000 on a flight in an English Electric Lightning. I have faced this test and have been found wanting. Even if I had the discretionary cash, my wife me...   [More]

December 31, 2007 :: January 2008 Letter - Dear Fellow Turbine Aficionados,

As we enter the new year, let’s reflect on a supremely successful, world altering technology. It continues to transform aviation markets. Airlines love it for lowering their fuel bills. Private pilots love its value for money and handlin...   [More]

December 3, 2007 :: December 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Carbon Footprinters,

As an aircraft forecaster, I like things simple. Expensive fuel = high ticket prices = fewer passengers. Airlines get squeezed between slack demand and higher fuel-related operating costs. Airlines buy fewer jets. Bad. All...   [More]

November 5, 2007 :: November 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Inter-Site Factory Travelers,

There are many great forums to debate globalization. Davos, Switzerland. The United Nations. Snohomish County. That’s right. Snohomish. It’s near Canada. It’s also the home of Boeing’s widebody factories in Everet...   [More]

October 17, 2007 :: October 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Mourners,

I get sad when planes start to die. I fear that’s what’s happening to Sino-Swearingen’s SJ30. Just last year Teal’s Corporate Strategy Guy Phil Finnegan and I trundled out to Martinsburg, WV in Phil’s new car. The prospect of...   [More]

September 19, 2007 :: September 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Aviation Folly Watchers,

Remember Indonesia’s IPTN? It was a repulsive cash-devouring horror, stupidly wrapped in a national flag. It represented a value-obliterating idea—creating indigenous aircraft as part of a nation’s development roadmap. Also,...   [More]

August 20, 2007 :: August 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Anthropologists,

Best part of any vacation: local aviation content (and an indulgent wife). Most countries have some kind of aviation legacy, a story told through museums, monuments or planes. This summer I found myself in Istanbul for a week....   [More]

July 31, 2007 :: July 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Ethnic Food Fans,

Which is a more widespread idea, fear of foreigners, or love of foreigners? I did some scientific in-depth research that produced sad results. Google “xenophobia” and you get exactly 3.6 million hits; Google the less well known <...   [More]

July 3, 2007 :: June 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Air Show Wanderers,

Just back from the best Le Bourget ever. The industry has never seen such strong demand. All markets—jetliners, business jets, combat aircraft, rotorcraft, the aftermarket, etc.—are doing exceptionally well, hitting record high...   [More]

May 21, 2007 :: May 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Old School Travelers,

Planning a flight? If you aren’t corporate top brass, very rich, or a guest on any of their business jets, here’s what to expect: You will enter a tube with one or two aisles. Your seating area will measure two by three feet. You wil...   [More]

April 18, 2007 :: April 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Bubble Watchers,

What’s the strangest thing in your house? For me it’s an easy answer—a Steinway baby grand piano. I pass it every night on my way upstairs and ask “how long have we had this piano?” Oh yeah, I remember, my wife won it back in 199...   [More]

March 20, 2007 :: March 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Irony Miners,

What is Irony? A movie character played by Winona Ryder said she couldn’t define it, but she knew it when she saw it. She was right. Just look at Airbus and Europe:

Irony 1: Don Rumsfeld shows why the US is a great country. <...   [More]

February 28, 2007 :: February 2007 Letter - Dear Fellow Traffickers,

Smuggling is one of the great pleasures in life. Transporting contraband across borders brings great rewards—the thrilling danger of getting caught, and of course the enjoyment of consuming the smuggled good. For yea...   [More]

January 31, 2007 :: January 2007 Letter - Estimado Compañero en la Lucha por la Aviación,

“Super Mystères! Look honey, Super Mystères!” I yelped as we taxied on the San Pedro Sula runway in Honduras. For some inexplicable reason my wife appeared disinterested. She gave me an I’m-happy-for-you-dear...   [More]

December 21, 2006 :: December 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Avio-Bibliophiles,

I haven’t written a book review since fourth grade (I think the last one I reviewed involved space aliens). It’s time I returned to this lost prose form; John Newhouse’s Boeing Versus Airbus (Knopf, 2007) is about to arrive....   [More]

November 30, 2006 :: November 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Frequent Voters,

People like political change. They get the promise of a fresh start, a chance to try new approaches, and Lord knows, as The Who said, we Won’t Get Fooled Again. And here in DC, there’s lots of change ahoy, and absolutely no in...   [More]

October 10, 2006 :: October 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Private Sector Standard Bearers,

Just back from France with Part 27 of my comprehensive fact-finding project: “Who has the dumbest politicians, the US or France?” I’m pleased to report a winner: Thierry Breton, France’s Finance/Industry/Economy Minist...   [More]

September 21, 2006 :: September 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Sudden Car Industry Watchers,

Job interviews bring out goofy things in people. You hear weird, self-important nonsense, like “I earned a black belt in Total Project Transformation Management.” or “I saved my company $10,000 in gardening bills by encouragin...   [More]

July 24, 2006 :: August 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Farnborough Endurers,

Hot tarmac. Miserable sweat soaked wool suit. Blazing sun. Futile air conditioning. Laughable transportation. If you aren’t in someone’s chalet, tepid ice-free drinks cost £4 ($137.50). Yep, it’s Farnborough. All I could think abo...   [More]

July 11, 2006 :: July 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Enthusiastic Border Overflyers,

What’s the least important part of your job? For 17 years I’ve had an easy answer: Teal’s annual Eurocopter BK.117/EC 145 report. This ordinary looking helicopter represents .001% of the aggregate economic value of ...   [More]

June 21, 2006 :: June 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Stunned Observers,

Mapping failure in our industry is easy. Aircraft fail due to technical reasons or market reasons or both. Technical failures include the A-12 and the Comet 1 jetliner. Market failures include the ...   [More]

May 30, 2006 :: May 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Zoo Fans,

How long does your typical European Brown Bear live? Every two years since 1998 my colleagues and I have visited Maxi, Schnute, and Tilo, the official Berlin bears residing between our hotel and ILA, the slightly under appreciated ...   [More]

April 4, 2006 :: April 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Airplane Development Second-Guessers,

Selling things for a living is hard work. You’re only as good as your last hit. And sometimes second best doesn’t get you much. It’s like the sales contest in Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross: “As you all know, fi...   [More]

March 13, 2006 :: March 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Checker Cab Flyers,

Permit me to ask you a personal question: Do you tip your air taxi driver? My colleague Mark argues that a well-placed C-note ensures great service, particularly if golf clubs are involved. My colleague Steve says it’s covered in the...   [More]

March 3, 2006 :: February 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Wary Globalizers,

Borders are disappearing in the aerospace industry. But despite globalization, companies on both sides of the Atlantic have serious differences of perception. Consider reactions to the recent Russian decision to merge all aerospace assets ...   [More]

January 24, 2006 :: January 2006 Letter - Dear Fellow Hotel Residents,

I’ve got nothing. Let me state that up-front. I took a vacation in Vietnam, and was hoping to write a few pages on the local aerospace market as I did last year for India. Instead I’ve got nothing. No aerospace companies consid...   [More]

December 21, 2005 :: December 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow China Watchers,

A lot of bad things happened to Airbus this year. The A380 delays, the A350’s slow start, and worst of all, the A340’s downward spiral. But this is the time of year for giving thanks. It’s important for everyone to remem...   [More]

November 30, 2005 :: November 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Airplane Mourners,

Check out the chalk outlines on the tarmac. Two dead airplanes: Bombardier’s CRJ-200 and Embraer’s ERJ 135/145. Didn’t see that coming. Airplane deaths are always tragic; forensic pathology is the worst part of the av...   [More]

October 17, 2005 :: October 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Alphabet Soup Consumers,

Do letters hurt? I didn’t used to think so. But sometime around 1990 McDonnell Douglas, whose leadership could charitably be termed “in need of adult supervision,” implemented a management philosophy known as TQM. As im...   [More]

September 9, 2005 :: September 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Wage Slaves,

Dry dog food. I hope it’s tasty. Like a lot of Americans, my retirement plans revolve around cultivating a taste for the stuff. I spent the ‘90s enthusiastically buying stocks. Having learned nothing about economic bubble...   [More]

August 1, 2005 :: August 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Armchair Industrial Strategists,

Feeling old? Me too. Here’s consolation. You understand market cyclicality if you live through enough cycles. At 42, I’m old enough to see several booms and busts, in both the defense and commercial markets. But there’s...   [More]

July 4, 2005 :: July 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Crypto-Anti-Xenophobes,

Dislike Foreigners? Sadly, you’re not alone. Many people hate outsiders. Many outsiders hate them back. Ironically, it’s the biggest border-transcending theme that humanity has in common: hatred of other people.

...   [More]

May 30, 2005 :: June 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Nostalgicians,

Launching a plane today is tough. You have to carefully explain your business case to shareholders, debt-raters, and industry partners. But before privatization, de-regulation, and liberalization, launching a plane was charmi...   [More]

May 3, 2005 :: May 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Rememberers Of Things Past,

Six AM, Plainview, Long Island, New York. I wake with a bloodcurdling scream, as is my custom whilst visiting my ancestral prefab postwar subdivision home. Whenever I stay here I’m visited by countless regrets, the endless lita...   [More]

April 5, 2005 :: April 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow CEOs-In-Training,

Sex. Harrry Stonecipher. Didn’t think I’d ever write those words together in the same paragraph. Nope. NoSiree Bob. And neither did the rest of the world. Just for grins, I googled “Sex+Stonecipher” and got 16,800 hits, of which 16,100...   [More]

March 3, 2005 :: March 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Well-Intentioned Globalists,

What makes analysts happy? Two dots. You can connect them and point to a trend. It still amazes me that I get paid to stand in front of people with a cheap laser pointer, drawing a line and pointing to a trend. The Lockheed ...   [More]

January 27, 2005 :: February 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Long-Distance Travelers,

In travel, it’s the little things you notice. Example. In Indian airports, toilet paper is stamped “Airport.” That’s a smart anti-theft deterrent, I thought. Then I realized the paper looked as though it ...   [More]

December 13, 2004 :: January 2005 Letter - Dear Fellow Fragmented Route Travelers,

Onceuponatime, my mother told me a great story. A beggar visited a rich man, claiming he could make soup from rocks. Intrigued by the idea of feeding his peasants for free, the rich person let the vagabond demonstrat...   [More]

November 22, 2004 :: December 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Scandal Watchers,

There are few greater guilty pleasures in life than reading other people’s mail. And thanks to Senator John McCain, for whom Christmas came early this year, we all get to share this experience. After the resignations of Air Force Se...   [More]

October 25, 2004 :: November 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Trade War Spectators,

Talk about obligation. I wish I could write this letter about anything except the Boeing/Airbus trade complaint, but it’s too big to ignore. Since everyone else is writing about it, I’m just a cog in a big Washington-based machi...   [More]

October 1, 2004 :: October 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Aerophiles,

Avoiding culture in Venice is tough. Masterpieces of art and architecture are everywhere. It’s a living museum. As a dedicated ignoramus, however, I was determined to succeed. There was no aerospace work to do, so I paid a visit to ...   [More]

August 25, 2004 :: September 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Armchair Strategists,

Fifty years ago, the French military decided to deal with their persistent Viet Minh insurgency. Reasoning that a climactic battle would finally win the war, in November 1953 they deployed a large force in a Vietnamese valley—Dien ...   [More]

July 29, 2004 :: August 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Throwaway Society Members,

TV ads change your life. We were recently cleaning house, and whenever I got sentimental about giving old stuff away, my wife reminded me of that Ikea lamp commercial. The images are from the lamp’s point of view, aban...   [More]

July 1, 2004 :: July 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Paranoiacs,

I Am Alive and You Are Dead is the wonderfully titled new biography of Philip K. Dick, the visionary science fiction writer whose dark, paranoid work inspired such crazed epics as Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall, and...   [More]

May 25, 2004 :: June 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Restaurant Meal Deducters,

We live in a perfect world. People who are both aviation experts (me, purportedly) and gluttons (me, definitely) get to visit the two world jetliner capitals, and both happen to offer world-class dining in convenient pro...   [More]

April 23, 2004 :: May 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Kurt Vonnegut Wannabes,

Know any frustrated novelists? You know the type—they dream of writing the Great American Novel, the next Catch-22, something richly textured yet darkly comic. Then, like me, they stop dreaming and go back to their wage-slav...   [More]

April 9, 2004 :: April 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Travelers,

Canada. The very word strikes casual interest and mild curiosity. But how different are our Northern pals? I decided to find out with an in-depth, 48-hour tour of two geographically convenient cities, Montreal and Toronto. Sure, there are the...   [More]

February 25, 2004 :: March 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Helicopter Watchers (Version 2.0),

Again with the helicopters. It’s a busy time for the rotary winged red-haired stepchildren of the aerospace industry. The only thing that could eclipse the endless VXX debate was a Comanche cancellation. And that’s wha...   [More]

February 16, 2004 :: February 2004 Letter - Dear Fellow Helicopter Watchers,

Funny how just one voice mail can transform the helicopter market. Consider, f’rinstance, this one: George, hi, it’s Tony. Remember all we did for you in Iraq? We sent those troops with the funny hats that made you giggle, plu...   [More]

January 15, 2004 :: January 2004 letter - Dear Frequent Readers,

Frequent readers of this column might recall that I promised two letters to commemorate the 100th anniversary of powered, inhabited flight. This month: belated idealism, or as close as I can get to it. Here’s my list of the best aspects of aviatio...   [More]

December 4, 2003 :: December 2003 letter - Dear Fellow House Loungers,

Thanksgiving’s over, guests have left, and I’m enjoying a long weekend in the house, wearing pajamas, not shaving, and drinking leftover gravy straight from Tupperware. Totally relaxed in my slovenliness, I enjoy a nice breakfast beer and wo...   [More]

November 3, 2003 :: November 2003 Letter - Dear Fellow Franklin Mint “Anniversary of Flight” Commemorative Plate Collectors,

Yeah, it’s that time of the century again—time to commemorate the centennial of flight. Lately, I’ve gotten calls from journalists seeking advice on important milestones and highli...   [More]

October 1, 2003 :: October 2003 Letter - Dear Fellow Airplane Culture Vultures,

When I first saw Attila, the Hungarian Aerospace Museum tour guide whose name I am not making up, I was scared. Blue lab coat, earnest, nervous expression—this was going to be a long, drawn out afternoon of darkness. “…And t...   [More]

September 7, 2003 :: September 2003 Letter - Dear Fellow Tanker Watchers,

How about that Boeing 767 tanker deal, eh? Excessive finance fees. Improper e-mails. Hyper-intense lobbying. Yep, you might think this would make a good scandal. If, that is, you never had any contact with aerospace, economics, or b...   [More]

August 13, 2003 :: August 2003 Letter - Dear Fellow Industry Org Chart Inhabitants,

Every day I open my e-mail, and it’s pretty much the same thing. Two or three angry clients, one or two angry PR types (more “disappointed” than “angry”), and a letter from a junior cabinet minister in a country I’ve never hear...   [More]

July 2, 2003 :: July 2003 Letter - Dear Fellow Airplane Counters,

I spent a week wandering through the Paris Air Show. Watched tumbleweeds blow through chalet alleys. Aimlessly talked about nothing over wine-soaked lunches while European fighters flew overhead, in futile competition with absent US planes. B...   [More]

May 28, 2003 :: June 2003 Letter - Dear Fellow Citizens Of The Aviation World,

While growing up, my view of the world was shaped by Dr. Seuss. Books like Oh, The Places You’ll Go! told me the world was filled with people who were different, but friendly; happy Eskimos ice-fishing...   [More]

April 23, 2003 :: May 2003 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Printed Matter Fans,

What’s on my Oh-My-God-I’m-Crammed-Into-A-Middle-Seat-In-The-Back-Of-A-757-What-Do-I-Do reading list? Well, most recently I breezed through the short, rewarding, and slim (fits into the three inches between your knees and the next...   [More]

April 14, 2003 :: April 2003 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Weapons Catalog Readers,

Like good portrait art? If yes, then I suggest you avoid BAE’s Warton fighter facility. Overdone portraits of the Saudi royal family are on prominent display there, complete with ultra-flattering nameplates. For some reason,...   [More]

March 24, 2003 :: March 2003 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Airport Lounge Enthusiasts,

Seven AM, Narita Airport, ANA Business Lounge. Wandering around, feeling like a piece of unclaimed baggage at the luggage carousel, I notice a funny looking machine on the refreshments counter. It’s got all kinds of weird...   [More]

February 12, 2003 :: February 2003 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Forensics Fans,

One of the least charming aspects of life in Washington is that everyone’s a self-proclaimed foreign policy expert. From the time you get some meaningless degree (both of mine are completely “liberal arts”) to the time you land some job ...   [More]

January 29, 2003 :: January 2003 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Cross-Border Shoppers,

Just back from an enjoyable long vacation in Mexico, a country that offers zero aerospace news that I can read. The closest I came was a local comic strip called Condorito. Alas, the sanguine little condor was unable to help me in ...   [More]

December 19, 2002 :: December 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Movie Fans,

As an aviation enthusiast, it’s hard to not be amused by the plot of Die Hard II. Dulles Airport has been taken over by an all-star team of international terrorists. Unless our demands are met, we will force your helpless jetliners to cir...   [More]

November 15, 2002 :: November 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Aluminum Tube Inhabitants,

Seen the new McDonald’s ad? They’ve got Donald Trump, praising the business acumen of an unseen pal, later revealed to be none other than Grimace, the long-forgotten McDonaldland character. “Together, Grimace, we could own thi...   [More]

September 16, 2002 :: October 2002 Newsletter - Dear Level Playing Field Players,

One of the great pleasures of living in downtown Washington is the protests. Rather than just watch them on TV, I occasionally get to see them up close on my way to work. And as this is written, I gather there is yet another anti-WT...   [More]

August 22, 2002 :: September 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Cheap Seat Occupants,

Ever see The French Connection? Well, if Hollywood has taught me anything, it’s that heroin addiction is something to avoid. It seems addicts need more and more heroin to feel good again. They get dependent, and it ultimately dest...   [More]

August 12, 2002 :: August 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Farnborough Avoidees,

There are many good places to watch the Farnborough Air Show. Bill, Teal’s Helmsman, likes the press center, where you can watch the full range of journalistic idiosyncrasies on display. Others prefer corporate hospitality chalets, w...   [More]

July 15, 2002 :: July 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Conflict Watchers,

The world is a scary place, and only getting scarier. You don’t need to be a hack sci-fi writer to envision the unpleasant future. Angry combatants will battle fiercely for scarce resources, showing no signs of compromise or mercy. Cultur...   [More]

June 13, 2002 :: June 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Party Crashers,

Of all the parties thrown in this industry, Harry Stonecipher’s retirement was easily the most lavish. The idea of throwing a massive celebration on board a company 747 converted to a flying ballroom, circling the globe while various world ...   [More]

May 20, 2002 :: May 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Travelers,

So it’s four AM, and I wake up totally disoriented, hit by jet lag, minibar scotch, and a strange hotel bed. Yeah, the same old traveling businessman’s scene—you might have experienced it. I turn on the light, and spot a clutch of brochures lying ...   [More]

April 10, 2002 :: April 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Laptop Haulers,

Funny thing about our usually lovable industry. While cuddly on the outside, it’s really a monstrous, cash-sucking beast. If you are an investor, for $100 million you can dig yourself a hole. For $500 million you can dig yourself a consider...   [More]

March 12, 2002 :: March 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Scheduled Air Service Victims,

Like a lot of other busy aviation professionals, I frequently take time out from my busy executive-type day to stop, relax, and have a beer. Not just any beer—since my college days I’ve become something of a beer snob. I real...   [More]

February 11, 2002 :: February 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Eager Pentagon Budget Watchers,

Many years ago, during the Anglo-German pre-War naval arms race, the British Government proposed a budget funding six new Dreadnought-class battleships (the “big ticket items” of the time). The Treasury protested that the...   [More]

January 12, 2002 :: January 2002 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Observers Of The Aircraft Market Condition,

Many times over the past years, clients have written, called, or e-mailed in order to inquire, politely, what I was thinking. Indeed, “what the hell were you thinking?” is a very common phrase that I seem to he...   [More]

January 2, 2002 :: December 2001 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Combat Aircraft Shoppers,

Last month I wrote about the impact of deflation on the airline/airliner industry. This month, I’d like to talk about a related phenomenon that affects all of us as we shop for combat aircraft at our local fighter dealership. F...   [More]

November 27, 2001 :: November 2001 Newsletter - Dear Aircraft-Minded Shoppers,

It’s that time of year again—time to go to the mall. You might remember my last report from the mall. I forget when it was, but suffice to say that things were grim. No one was buying anything, save the occasional lump of Pottery Barn...   [More]

November 6, 2001 :: October 2001 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Returnees To Normality,

Let’s start this letter on a note of hope. As I write this, the Bush Administration has begun bombing Afghanistan. There could be a sustained campaign to wipe out terrorists, followed by a rebuilding of the country with aid. This ...   [More]

September 18, 2001 :: September 2001 Newsletter - Dear WMCAB Clients,

Before the recent tragedy, I had written a mildly entertaining review of fighter industry consolidation, based on the recent A-12 lawsuit decision. Sadly, that monthly letter will have to wait. The world has changed. I hope you, like me, were f...   [More]

August 20, 2001 :: August 2001 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Observers,

The big news of the month is the Defense Acquisition Board’s decision to approve LRIP of the first ten F-22s. This important step effectively guarantees the aircraft’s future, transitioning it from a research program (easy kill) to a p...   [More]

August 6, 2001 :: July 2001 Newsletter - Dear Proud Members Of The Defense Industrial Base,

Last month my letter looked at Europe. Well, since then I’ve been stuck in the malarial swamp of Washington, DC, so it’s time to turn my attentions closer to home. This is just as well—there’s plenty of material. The F...   [More]

June 27, 2001 :: June 2001 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Observers Of The Human Condition,

Are people getting stupider? That’s the question that occupied my mind during this year’s Paris Air Show, from which I have just returned. Permit me to present the evidence for this depressing trend:

First, there...   [More]

May 23, 2001 :: May 2001 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Reality TV Advocates,

Onceuponatime, I spent a few years studying war in graduate school (see my upcoming memoirs, Volume VII: The Years Without Light). It was not a completely fruitless experience, and, now that you asked, I concentrated on the int...   [More]

April 11, 2001 :: April 2001 Newsletter - Dear Future One-Sixteenth Bizjet Time Share Owners,

Spending my happiest moments, as always, staring at spreadsheets. I’ve been reviewing the business jet numbers (new overview next month—let me know if you want an advance copy) when I suddenly came to a shocking conc...   [More]

April 3, 2001 :: March 2001 Newsletter - Dear Soon-To-Be Trans-Sonic Clients,

Greetings! Let’s talk about jetliners this month. Specifically, what does Boeing’s new line of semi-trans-sonic jets mean? Project Yellowstone, The TwentySomethings, The Sonic (PT?) Cruiser, whatever the nom du jour is, the proposa...   [More]

March 19, 2001 :: February 2001 Newsletter - Dear Patient Clients,

Well, let’s face it—the February date above is a barefaced lie. Please excuse the late supplement. What we lack in timeliness, we hope to make up for with…oh, I don’t know what. But at least this supplement does have one somewhat notable repor...   [More]

January 22, 2001 :: January 2001 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Old Economy Metal Benders,

Happy New Year, and (doesn’t it get irritating?) Happy New Millennium! As tradition demands, the first supplement of the year includes our annual macro overview of the industry, the World Aircraft Overview. If you want one e-ma...   [More]

December 20, 2000 :: December 2000 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Y2K+1 Survivors,

Holiday Greetings! This supplement contains updates of a variety of exciting Christmas-spirit war machines. The F/A-18 and F-14 reports haven’t changed much; although our long-term outlook for the Hornet has been boosted by our new nega...   [More]

November 13, 2000 :: November 2000 Newsletter - Dear Friendly Clients,

In last month’s letter, I threatened to write about the impact of General Electric’s proposed acquisition of Honeywell on the aircraft business. Well, here goes. It’s a good thing. That’s it. Next topic.

Okay, seriously, this merge...   [More]

November 1, 2000 :: October 2000 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Number Crunchers,

The GE/Honeywell merger is dominating news. Will it go ahead? What will the impact be on aircraft markets and financing? How will this affect the balance of power between primes and subcontractors? For answers to these questions, lo...   [More]

October 16, 2000 :: September 2000 Newsletter - Dear Future Very Large Aircraft Inhabitants,

This month’s letter was going to be about aerospace privatization rip-offs. But events have obviously intervened, and now I get to write about current events—Singapore has ordered 10 firm and 15 option A3XXs. Arguably...   [More]

September 14, 2000 :: August 2000 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Value Added Synergizers,

Greetings, and welcome to this supplement. August features another update of the commercial jet overview, reflecting that market’s surprising strength and durability. This impressive strength is especially seen in Airbus’s narro...   [More]

August 8, 2000 :: July 2000 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Bemused Press Release Readers,

The civil aircraft business could not be better. Production lines are going full speed, backlogs are fat, investor confidence is slowly but surely returning to the industry, and everyone is praising the longevity and durabilit...   [More]

July 7, 2000 :: June 2000 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Market Watchers,

I just got back from Europe, and all I got my clients was some lousy information.

So, what did I learn? Well, I learned the Europeans are serious. Seriously serious. EADS looks like an effective and rational organization...   [More]

June 5, 2000 :: May 2000 Newsletter - Dear Fellow Aircraft Industry Clockwatchers,

Seems like the months just fly by, don’t they? Matter of fact, seems like just yesterday Airbus was ready to launch the A350; that was Jean Pierson’s pet project, a new, large 600-seat beast that was all set to go…in 1992. We...   [More]

May 1, 2000 :: April 2000 Newsletter - Dear Esteemed Readers,

Topping last month’s news, Italy’s Alenia, which went from mustachioed spinster to highly-courted maiden, finally made its mind up and went with EADS. In addition to a joint combat aircraft venture with the German/French/Spanish firm, Alenia wil...   [More]

April 3, 2000 :: March 2000 Newsletter - Dear Plane People,

Greetings! What a great month for news. It seemed like one of those months where something aviation-related made the headlines every day, and none of it involved an unpleasant crash. This is good, because the only idea I have for this month’s letter...   [More]

March 28, 2000 :: February 2000 Newsletter - Dear Aircraft Information Consumers,

There are few things that make me happier than NEW DEFENSE BUDGET DAY! Yes, it’s that time of year—the FY2001 budget has arrived. I feel like a kid at holiday time, when the Sears Christmas catalogue would arrive, with color pho...   [More]

February 15, 2000 :: January 2000 Newsletter - Dear Intrepid Readers,

“Procurement holiday. What a sham.”

I had just given a briefing analyzing the sluggish market for a certain military product. Even though I had referred to the procurement holiday in my presentation, I don’t think the author of the ...   [More]

© Richard Aboulafia 1997-2006, All rights reserved.
  ~  Last updated on January 08, 2006