Richard L. Aboulafia

IN THE MEDIA

Richard L. Aboulafia

Richard is Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group. He manages consulting projects in the commercial and military aircraft field and analyzes broader defense and aerospace trends. He has advised numerous aerospace companies, including most prime and many second- and third-tier contractors in the US, Europe and Asia. He also advises numerous financial institutions on aerospace market conditions. Full Bio >

15
March
2017

Why so many big defense companies are bowing out of this $16.3B Air Force competition

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

Why so many big defense companies are bowing out of this $16.3B Air Force competition

The Air Force’s future $16.3 billion program to replace its training aircraft has seen each of the so-called “Big Five” defense contractors express an interest in the competition.

It has also seen three of them drop out of the running.

Of those defense giants, only The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) remain in the Air Force’s Trainer-X competition. General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD) first bowed out in April 2015, with Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) announcing its exit in January and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) abandoning the program the week after. Textron Airland also announced that it too would not enter the fray, Defense News reported Tuesday.

So, why do the majority of big name defense companies want out? Given that the Air Force has already awarded contracts for the fighter, tanker and bomber— with not many major programs out on the horizon — one would think they would be clamoring to build the 350 trainers.

Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Fairfax-based Teal Group and an aviation consultant, argued that the dearth of major future Air Force programs may actually be what’s behind all these companies leaving the field.

The Air Force, he said, likely took note of this environment marked with "not many aircraft contests" where "everyone is eager to win something” in drafting the request for proposals, allowing it to “extract the best possible terms based on the acquisition side.”

“They basically put forth a contract where you’re not reimbursed for development,” Aboulafia said. “It’s a price-shootout with a little window dressing. You get an incentive for performance but in the broader context of the cost of the program it’s almost insignificant.”

Media Outlet: Washington Business Journal Tags Boeing | Korea Aerospace Industries | Lockheed Martin | South Korea | T-X

28
February
2017

The T-X battle comes down to Lockheed and Boeing

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

The T-X battle comes down to Lockheed and Boeing

WASHINGTON — With U.S. President Donald Trump’s attention fixed on the F-35 and Air Force One, the Air Force’s biggest ongoing aircraft competition so far has gone untouched. But even without Trump’s intervention, the T-X race has evolved into something not unlike an episode of a reality TV show, featuring industry teams breaking up, companies unexpectedly dropping out and upstart entries coming in at the last minute.

The T-X program began with four main competitors: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman — which developed a new prototype — and a Raytheon-Leonardo team offering the latter firm’s M-346. Over the past couple of months, Northrop has pulled out of the competition, Raytheon dissolved its partnership with Leonardo — leaving the Italian firm to ally with its US wing, DRS Technologies — and several smaller companies, including Sierra Nevada and the nigh-unknown Stavatti Aerospace, decided to throw their designs into the ring.

Analysts tell Defense News that the drama overshadows the most important point: The competition has become a face-off between Boeing’s clean-sheet T-X design and the Lockheed Martin-Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50A, the US derivative of a trainer flown by the South Korean, Iraqi, Philippine and Indonesian militaries.

And with the T-50 already in production and thousands of hours of flight time behind it, Boeing will face an uphill battle to keep Lockheed from cinching the contract.

"It looks like the emphasis is still very much on unit price and not much of anything else. It's [lowest price technically acceptable], basically, but with some window dressing,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group. “And given the need to roll up the upfront development costs, Boeing is at a disadvantage. They'd have to be very aggressive price-wise. They obviously have a history of doing that with [the KC-46] tanker, but this clearly puts the advantage with Lockheed."

Media Outlet: Defense News Tags Boeing | Korea Aerospace Industries | Lockheed Martin | South Korea | T-X

20
March
2015

Mission for New Bomber: Avert Procurement Death Spiral

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

Mission for New Bomber: Avert Procurement Death Spiral

Aerospace industry analyst Richard Aboulafia, of The Teal Group, has hypothesized that the bomber selection could upend the defense industrial base. If Northrop doesn't win, its days as a military airframe prime contractor could be numbered, he said. "When the bomber program gets decided, someone is going to be without a seat at the table."

Media Outlet: National Defense Tags Northrop Grumman

18
January
2015

Shrouded in Mystery, New Bomber Makes Waves

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

Shrouded in Mystery, New Bomber Makes Waves

The half a dozen analysts and experts interviewed by Defense News for this piece all agree on one thing: the LRS-B has the chance to shape American military aerospace for the next 20 years. Whichever competitor wins will reap a windfall of development money; the loser could find itself out of the military attack airframe business entirely.

And while the program appears to be on track, Congress is waiting in the wings for any sign of cost overrun or technological problems.

"This is crunch time," said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group. "It's the biggest single outstanding DoD competition by a very wide margin. That makes it important in and of itself."

Media Outlet: Defense News Tags Long Range Strike-Bomber | LRS-B

13
January
2015

Falling Oil Prices, a Boon to Airlines, Pose a Challenge for Airbus and Boeing

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

Falling Oil Prices, a Boon to Airlines, Pose a Challenge for Airbus and Boeing

"What has propelled the market to record growth are two factors: cheap cash and expensive fuel," said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with the Teal Group in suburban Washington. "Now something has changed."

Whether the continued fall in price of oil represents something more significant than a short-term imbalance of global supply and demand remains to be seen, some analysts warn. But if it continues, airlines would be motivated to keep their older, fuel-guzzling jets flying for a few more years and delay new orders in hopes of saving money.

"We can't yet predict if it will last or how the air carriers will react," Mr. Aboulafia said, "but I think now would be an excellent time for caution."

Media Outlet: The New York Times Tags Airlines | Fuel Costs | Oil Prices

13
January
2015

Boeing 737 Boss to Head South Carolina Dreamliner Plant

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

Boeing 737 Boss to Head South Carolina Dreamliner Plant

"Bev Wyse is one of the best-regarded people at Boeing and in the industry," said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group.

Media Outlet: Reuters Tags Bev Wyse | Boeing | Boeing 737

08
January
2015

Bombardier’s CSeries Gamble Is Facing Longer Odds

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

Bombardier’s CSeries Gamble Is Facing Longer Odds

Bombardier may find it difficult to carve out space, given the preference among many air carriers to stick with a single aircraft maker, according to Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at the Teal Group, an aerospace and defense industry analysis firm. More important, he said, Boeing and Airbus have a significant cost advantage.

Media Outlet: The New York Times Tags Bombardier

07
January
2015

Why We Don’t Need Real-Time Flight Tracking

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

Why We Don’t Need Real-Time Flight Tracking

"Of the three recent disasters, none would have changed" with real-time black boxes, says Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with the Teal Group. "You're just talking about faster closure."

Instead of real-time data tracking, it makes more sense to have the capability to stream all that data in real-time and use it only when something's amiss. If an anomaly—cabin depressurization, say, or an engine malfunction—occurs, air traffic control, carriers and the aircraft manufacturer could begin streaming data from that specific aircraft. This is something that existing communications technology could easily support, were such a system developed, would it would provide much more information to investigators during and immediately after an in-flight incident.

"That capability is currently under development," says Mary I. McMillan, vice president for aviation safety and operational services with satellite communications provider Inmarsat.

As with many things in commercial aviation, the technology is not the biggest hurdle. What data to stream, when to stream it, and how to stream it would be debated among the many constituents involved—airlines, pilots, governmental regulators and the like. Everyone from pilots unions, the International Civil Aviation Organization, national regulatory agencies like the FAA as well as carriers would all need to sign off, and we'd need spectrum dedicated to the communication system. There was years of debate over the privacy implications of cockpit voice recorders before they were adopted, and any discussion of real-time data monitoring would undoubtedly fuel similar debate and discussion.

"There's a lot of sensitivity around information like that," McMillan says. "I wouldn't pretend that it's easy to mandate black box in the cloud."

All that aside, even if the technology to stream flight data recorder data in real-time were developed, there's no guarantee carriers would adopt it without a regulatory mandate. Various regulatory agencies have what's called a Minimum Equipment List, or MEL. According to McMillan, some planes may legally operate without on-board weather radar, for example. Some planes might not even be GPS-equipped, especially if they're flying over land where getting lost is unlikely. Given the rarity of plane crashes, and the fact the black box data recorders are almost invariably recovered, it is unlikely that streaming black box technology would be implemented on a wide scale anytime soon.

"This is nothing new. Every time something bad happens, people come up with an untenable idea for a technological fix or an equipment fix," says Aboulafia. "These are three tragic anecdotes, but the plural of anecdote is not data."

Media Outlet: Wired Tags AirAsia 8501 | Malaysia Airlines 370

18
December
2014

Pentagon Spreads Out F-35 Production, Repair Work to Get Orders

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

Pentagon Spreads Out F-35 Production, Repair Work to Get Orders

"It's as much an industrial policy as a fighter," said Richard Aboulafia, vice president at Teal Group, an aerospace consultancy.

Media Outlet: The Wall Street Journal Tags F-35 | Joint Strike Fighter | Lockheed Martin

17
December
2014

How ISIS and Boko Haram Could Change the Way Countries Purchase Air Power

Featuring: Richard L. Aboulafia

How ISIS and Boko Haram Could Change the Way Countries Purchase Air Power

Not everyone agrees. "It's just sort of a baffling product," says Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at Teal Group, and aerospace and defense consultancy based in Fairfax, Va. "It's the perfect solution to a problem that doesn't exist."

Aboulafia says less-expensive turboprop aircraft have proven themselves more than capable of conducting ISR and striking ground targets. The Scorpion's relatively low, subsonic speed and lack of sophisticated radar put it a class below the lowest-end fighter jets capable of air-to-air intercept and combat, he adds. "I'm not sure where the demand would come from," he says.

Media Outlet: Fortune Tags Scorpion | Textron

[12 3 4 5  >>  

Teal Group offers online access to all our products through the web. Contact our Sales Staff to obtain a user ID and password for online access. Instructions for accessing the Online Demo are found below. You will only have access to the Online Demo product. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the reports on the online access site.

logon demoDEMO INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Log on using Demo User ID 2306 and Demo Password teal.
  2. A list of Teal Group Products will appear on the next screen.
  3. You will have access to the online demo and you will be able to see what is available in other services. Accessible reports will appear as clickable text in red under the Title of the Briefing. You will not be able to access reports in unsubscribed services. These report titles will appear as normal text in black.
  4. Click on "Online Demo". The various briefing titles will appear. Click on a section and the sample reports in that section will appear. At this point you can click on the sample report to access the file.

 

To inquire about online access and site licenses please contact Mr. Tim Storey.