Focus on NMA engines: all OEMs vying for Boeing’s approval

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March 22, 2018, © Leeham Co.: As Boeing enters the final stretch whether to launch the New Midrange Aircraft (NMA, aka 797) market focus should shift to the engines more than the airframe and even the market demand.

It all comes down to this: no engines, no plane.

Monday’s post outlined some of the issues to consider.

But there are larger implications as well.

  • Market sources are tossing about various scenarios about the future GE Aviation and CFM.
  • Rolls-Royce won’t have its Trent 1000 problems fixed until 2021 or 2022, at great cost.
  • Pratt & Whitney won’t have its Geared Turbo Fan final PIP packages for its problems sorted out until around 2021.
  • Resources—both financial and with engineering—are stretched now.
  • Sequencing current engine problems, and in the case, GE’s GE9X, are a factor, in the eyes of some.

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GE/CFM in “lockstep” with Boeing on NMA

David Joyce

March 22, 2018, © Leeham News: GE Aviation/CFM International are in “lockstep” with Boeing for development of an engine for the New Midrange Aircraft (NMA, or 797), the CEO of GE Aviation told a JP Morgan Aviation conference last week.

David Joyce acknowledged that there are technical issues and production delays for the new CFM LEAP 1A and 1B that power the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX families respectively. Production is running up to six weeks late, but should be caught up by the end of this year, he said.

Technical issues, while affecting at least 100 engines, nevertheless are far less of an issue than those plaguing rival Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbo Fan.

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Lion Air takes delivery of Boeing’s first 737-9 MAX

Lion Air took delivery today of the first Boeing 737-9 MAX that will go into revenue service. Leeham News photo.

March 21, 2018, © Leeham News: Lion Air, the low-cost carrier with several affiliates throughout Asia, took delivery of the first Boeing 737-9 MAX today at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Thai Lion will operate the airplane.

Lion Air was the launch customer of the Boeing 737-900ER and it is a launch customer of the 737-9. The airline has more than 100 737-900ERs and more than 80 737-800s. It ordered 201 737 MAX 8/9s and 50 more 737-10 MAXes.

Neither Lion Air nor Boeing have specified how many MAXes are the 8 or 9 models. If the MAX order is pro-rated proportionally with the NG orders, about 110 may be destined to be the 9 MAX.

This should bring the MAX 9 order book to about 360. United Airlines canceled an order for 100 9 MAXes in favor of the 10 MAX when this program was launched at the Paris Air Show last year.

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Airbus launches the longest range widebody in the below 300 seat market

By Bjorn Fehrm 

March 20, 2018, ©. Leeham News, Toulouse: Airbus launched the 251t version of the A330neo in Toulouse today. The new weight variant increases the range of the A330-800 and A330-900, making the A330-800 the longest range airliner in the 250- to 300-seat segment.

Airbus also presented an update on the progress of the A330neo program, now in the middle of flight tests.

Figure 1. A330neo changes from the A330ceo. Source: Airbus.

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Production transformation key to Boeing NMA

March 20, 2018, © Leeham News: As Boeing builds the business case for the New Midrange Airplane (NMA, or 797), dozens of major factors come into play, along with the hundreds or thousands of smaller one.

The market demand, of course, is a well-known business case element.

So is price to the customer, the design and capabilities of the airplane, the engines and the technology of them, whether there will be a sole- or dual-source engine, where the airplane will be assembled and how it will be produced.

One Boeing official told LNC that the 797 is as much about production as it is everything else. This goes to cost and cost goes to pricing.

Automation, robotics, digital design, 3D printing and additive manufacturing are key to producing the 797. Many elements are already in place on other Boeing programs, most described in the media already.

One key supplier is Dassault Systemes.

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NMA focus needs to be on engines

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March 19, 2018, © Leeham Co.: As the market awaits a decision by Boeing whether to launch the New Midrange Aircraft (NMA, or 797), focus has been on the aircraft’s definition and market demand.

It should be on the engines.

It doesn’t matter whether Boeing designs a fabulous airplane that’s the next best thing to sliced bread. What matters is whether the engines will be ready in time for Boeing’s suggested entry-into-service and if they are, whether they will be reliable out of the box.

The recent track record isn’t all that encouraging. Neither is Boeing’s preferred timing.

  • CFM, GE, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce each had problems with their new engines. All continue.
  • The Boeing NMA requires brand new engines, not derivatives.
  • Engine development and certification within the Boeing preferred timeline is sporty at best.

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Pontifications: Boeing faces thousands of retirements in next five years

By Scott Hamilton

March 19, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing faces thousands of retirements in its engineering and touch-labor force ranks over the next five to 10 years, with a limited worker pool for replacements.

A national economy with a low unemployment rate of about 4.1% exacerbates the challenges of finding talent.

These numbers are important to Boeing’s current higher production rate ambitions.

They are even more important as Boeing looks to develop the New Midrange Airplane (NMA, aka 797).

LNC first discussed the looming shortage of engineers in connection with the potential creation of a new company with Embraer.

The Southeast Aerospace and Defence Conference in Mobile focuses on production transformation. Go to Airfinance Journal for program information.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Aircraft drag reduction, Part 21

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 16, 2018, ©. Leeham News: In the last Corner, we looked at the drag of an airliner during cruise. We could see the thrust required to counter the drag in the thin air of 37,000 feet was low, about 4,000lbf per engine.

Now we continue with the drag created by the aircraft during descent and landing.

Figure 1. Drag of an aircraft at different airspeeds. Source: Leeham Co.

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Boeing’s NMA decision entering final stretch

By Bjorn Fehrm

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March 15, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing’s NMA or 797 is taking final form ahead of a decision to launch the program later in the year.

Jon Ostrower has published the first picture of the projected aircraft, which he acknowledges might change in its final form. Figure 1 shows the smaller of the two NMA models, the 224-seat 797-6X.

Figure 1. The first sketch of the smaller 797-6X with 224 seats. Source:

We take a closer look at the 797 in its latest definition.


  • The Boeing NMA is called the 797-6X and 797-7X when presented to airlines.
  • The 797 is best compared with the 767. Cabin dimensions are close to the 767-200 for the 797-6X and to the 767-300 for the 797-7X.
  • The use of a more efficient cross-section, Carbon Fibre design, higher aspect ratio wing and modern engines makes the 797 a lighter and more efficient aircraft than the 767.

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China tariffs on Boeing unlikely


March 14, 2018 © Leeham News: Boeing is unlikely to face retaliatory tariffs from China following President Trump’s imposition of tariffs on China’s steel industry.

LNC believes China’s own self-interest for its airline, leasing and aerospace industry would make imposing tariffs on Boeing counter-productive.

Several media reports this week raise the prospect of China retaliating against Boeing, including these at CNBC and The New York Times. Boeing stock is off $10 or 3% in mid-day trading.

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