Thursday, 23 June 2011

Covertly promoting himself: Saj Ahmad does email campaign

Fact Checker learned that Saj Ahmad, the self-promoting "analyst who doesn't tell anyone what his credentials are, endlessly promotes himself by sending journalists an unending stream of long unsolicited comments on a never-ending series of topics, ranging from maintenance, repair and overall to one of his favourite bashing targets, the A350. (Fact Checker was shocked, mind you, shocked when he recently had something nice to say about the Bombardier CSeries following the order by Korean Air Lines. If there is anything Ahmad hates worse than Airbus, it is Bombardier.)

Given his long unsolicited and frequent missives, you have to wonder how he has time to be an analyst (for money, that is).

Monday, 13 June 2011

Saj Ahmad, the Airbus-basher, and his A350 predictions: are they any good?

Saj Ahmad has a multi-year history of being a basher of all things about Airbus (except when he uses the A320neo, which he also has a history of bashing, to bash the one thing he hates ever more--the Bombardier CSeries).

All you have to do is check out and Google searches to see his venom toward Airbus, exceeded only by his buddy, the late Doug McVitie.

Ahmad's latest comes in an article on In it, he is quoted as follows....

“With Emirates, Etihad and launch customer for all three A350 variants, Qatar Airways, hoping that Airbus can avoid the pitfalls seen by Boeing on the 787, it appears increasingly likely that a series of crippling delays are inevitable for Airbus’ latest wide-body airplane,” said Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at FBE Aerospace, London."

"He said it is certain that the A350XWB airplane will be at least 18-24 months late with the subsequent A350-800 and A350-1000 models also being delayed by similar timescales."

“Airbus is still coming to terms with the problems and delays faced on the A380 programme and now with the A350 poised to slide as well, the big three Arab carriers, as well as leasing companies like DAE and ALAFCO will have to seriously consider their near-term capacity options,” Ahmad said."

On a high level, these comments may appear to be reasonable. However, his predictions that "it is certain" the A350s will be "at least 18-24" months late are awfully, to use his word, "certain." Only time will tell if this is correct, but remember that this comes from the same person who steadfastly refused to believe the Boeing 787 and the 747-8 were going to be late. Ahmad made excuses for Boeing through half the 787 delays and relented in his unremitting defence only after it became too embarrassing to defend the airplane. He followed a similar patter with the 747-8, refusing to concede delays were coming to this programme.

Although  he claims to be a sage analyst and particularly well connected to the Middle East (he boasts of his dual bases in London and the Middle East), Ahmad fails to realise that DAE Capital, the leasing company, is winding up its business and has been cancelling all its new orders. DAE doesn't care when the A350 is delivered. It will have cancelled all the orders well before the delivery date.

Will the A350 be delayed? Yes. Delivery schedules already slipped from the first half of 2013 to the second half. Will they be delayed "at least" 18-24 months, as Ahmad predicts? There is little in his history on predicting the 787 and 747-8 will be on time or that Airbus won't proceed with the A320neo programme, or that airlines and leasing companies won't buy the Pratt & Whitney geared turbo fan to give confidence that this prediction is any better than those.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

More myth-busting for Saj Ahmad and Fleetbuzz

It's time for some more myth-busting of Saj Ahmad and Fleetbuzz.There's so much fodder--where to begin?

In a blog posting 13 October 2010, Ahmad said,“While Airbus seems poised to push ahead with re-engining the A320 family, more likely because it has no choice or money to go with a more comprehensive update due to its cash commitments on the A380, A350 and A400M  - it is likely that Boeing will sit on the sidelines to come up with something as game-changing for the narrowbody market in the same way as the 787 has been a game-changer for the widebody market.To that end, the relationship that Boeing has with CFM International as well as the room for improvement on the current CFM56-7BE engine, Airbus could find itself saddled with a GTF engine that delivers less than 9% better fuel burn while incurring $2 billion or more for that privilege and Boeing could achieve the same without a new engine, thereby increasing commonality for operators and keeping the costs down. That is far more of an incentive for buyers than is Airbus’ proposals and it resonates because we haven’t exactly seen a queue of customers banging on Airbus’ door to get the GTF engine given that it is still laden with performance issues that Pratt & Whitney simply chooses not to want to discuss. One only looks at the pathetic sales of the CSeries to see that the GTF is as big a problem as the airplane and that’s why airlines won’t buy it.”  

Fact: Ahmad comes up with "less than 9%" out of thin air, or at least he doesn't cite any source for this claim. Airbus said over and over the A320neo uses up to 15% less fuel, with 3.5% coming from the sharlets. This means 12.5% comes from the engine.

More: EADS has a cash balance of more than 11 billion euros. That's a lot more than Boeing has, and Saj continually boosts the idea Boeing will proceed with a new airplane to replace the 737. If EADS doesn't have the cash required for a new airplane, what about his favourite company?

More: where does Ahmad come up with "Boeing could achieve the same without a new engine...."? No facts, no sources, just another thin-air claim. Even Boeing doesn't make this claim.

More: P&W "doesn't want to discuss" performance issues? P&W has frequently discussed performance issues.

More: All A320neo orders so far have been for the GTF. The fact is, Saj, that the customers aren't lining up for the Leap-X.

Performance and the GTF. In Chapter 3 of the Saj Ahmad/Fleetbuzz Comedy Show, Ahmad persistently criticises the GTF and likes to say it hasn't flown on the CSeries. At the same time, he persistently touts the performance and fuel savings of the CFM Leap-X.

Fact: What makes this so laughable is that the CFM Leap-X hasn't flown at all and it is years behind in testing vs. the GTF. The GTF has flown on the P&W test 747 and on the A340-600 test airplane. He also dismisses the positive comments of Boeing's Mike Bair about the GTF.

A320neo: Orient Aviation has a good article talking about the neo and another talking about the GTF. In it, Tom Ballentyne quotes Airbus' Tom Williams endorsing the GTF and P&W's testing methodology. Ballentyne also quotes Lufthansa's Nico Buchholz, the head of fleet planning, about the GTF engine and the A320neo. While Ahmad continues to dismiss the neo (except when he bases the Bombardier CSeries, then the neo is the cat's meow) and the GTF, Ahmad has never interviewed Airbus or Buchholz, so he chooses to ignore their information.