What should Boeing do for 737 class?

24 Comments on “What should Boeing do for 737 class?

  1. I think Boeing should do both. The B-737RE now, and launch the NSA around 2014.

    • I agree. A new plane at this time is the correct strategic step. Unfortunately, Airbus’ inconvenient decision to re-engine the A320 makes it too risky for Boeing not to re-engine the 737. It will delay the new plane a bit, though

  2. The re-engine is a “no brainer” and should not be a major cost. If the estimate is high, someone needs to get real with the numbers and maybe a new approach from Boeing experience with Lean manufacturing needs to be applied. Boeing should beat airbus to the punch with the re-engined 737. It is like putting a modern engine, transmission, and suspension in a classic Mustang. Put a Lean 3P team on it and Boeing will out speed GE on the program.

    Boeing needs to start telling the FAA what the test program will be and if the FAA does not accept, Boeing needs to insist that all Airbus products go through the same testing rigors or they do not enter US airspace. Boeing will have to go public with this and present a campaign about American jobs and industry playing in an equalize global market.

    There is always time for a complete new airplane and that should be done with the customers and the passengers in mind. So far, all I heard about is a new single isle concept. Well that is to slow to load and unload and cannot offer large enough bin space to satisfy the frequent flyer who never checks a bag. Twin isle domestic is the new 737. Sadly one of the best least expensive ways to achieve it was wasted with the loss of the 757 wing line. That combined with the 767 fuselage would have already given Boeing a new domestic twin isle and the current 737 question would be mute. There are other opportunities on which Boeing could leverage current structures.

    Timid is out! Leadership is in!

    Jon F Sutter

    • “It is like putting a modern engine, transmission, and suspension in a classic Mustang.”

      Still a 1940th chasis with zero crashworthyness and much too heavy to be competitive ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Boeing shouldn’t have gone to sleep after bringing the NG to market. They should
      have used the time won then constructively for a state of the art NB craft.
      Now the third warm over brings increasing difficulty and (thus) cost.

  3. Jon F

    do you know that:

    – GE / CFM will be fully occupied delivering contracted engines for the A320/NEO
    – the A320 has been outselling the 737 for years
    – the A320 is certified under more rigorous requirements then the 737 (e.g. 16g cabin iso 9g), grantfathered rights play a role. On the plus: thats why the 737 is a little lighter..

    Reality needs to kick in some places, flag waving never looked so unintelligent.

    A re-engine seems necessary asap, accepting less efficiency then the NEO, but giving time to develop something good for EIS around 2023 while the NB line isn’t iddle.

  4. Keesje, your first point is a very good one. Just what is the capacity of the engine makers in producing enough new engines each month? When you look at an OEM like GE, they are producing several different engine models each month, from the CFM-56 series, to the CF-6 series, the GE-90 series, and now the GEnx. P&W may have more capacity available as they essentially are only producing the PW-4000 series, the PW-2040 (for the USAF), and beginning to produce the GTF series. RR would be somewhere between GE and P&W, as they produce the several different Trent series.

    • Regarding the capacity, do not forget that an eventual CFM LEAP or PW GTF (PW1000) engine on a Boeing 737RE, will not be the exact same engine as on the A32XNEO. The fan diameters will be different for starters (+ new fan case, fan outlet guide vanes, thrust reversers, cowling, etc).

      A change of that order will take 1+ years (keep in mind that engines are extremely complicated due to their complex lay-out and parts designed to handle more than one task, often tasked with three or more completely different duties, perhaps aerodynamic, load carrying and engine mount point at the same time). Change one thing and you find yourself with downstream changes to four or more systems/functions.

      If the LPC and IMC need to be modified (LPC moderately likely I’d say, IMC little less so), you are looking at 2 years of engineering work (unless you can do the NEO and 737RE versions side by side, which you can’t since the NEO versions are already being worked on as we speak). Those two years can possibly include one or two prototype hardwares for engine testing (but not certification grade). Add time (in the case of forgings for the fan case or castings for the IMC you are looking at tooling lead times of 9+ months, which in the case of castings mean that your design is frozen when you order the tool).

      So, I’d say, a change like that is about 3 years from start to finish, which is only one or two years less than a new engine, which you save on testing all the other systems with the NEO engine. You are still stuck with all the engineering and mfg on the modules you change, however, which is the same lead time irrespecitve of a new engine or a new version, since the new engines do not introduce anything new to these components the lead times are pretty much std.

      So when Boeing can have their engine(s) depend on when the engine OEMs start working…

      Note: the above does not include ramp-up, which for the NEO alone is a significant task. I do not think the supply chain can support ramp-up of an additional version from year one (meaning the 737RE version(s) need to be staggered later than the NEO for this reason alone, engineering work not considered. Keep in mind that in the case of PW, the same supply chains is used also for the smaller siblings in the PW1000 family, i.e. engine PW1217G and PW1524G for the MRJ and C-series respectively. This adds to ramp up volume.

      The above said, both GE/Snecma and PW have very large resources and will do their best to accomodate, but engine stuff takes time… and the supply chain is largely made up of smaller companies, the big OEMs typically make less than 50% of the parts themselves (make as in design, even less is manufacured by them). The bottle-neck will be the partners or the partners suppliers, especially when/if castings or forgings are needed.

      • Could a version of the PW1500 be used on the 73G? It would still take time to develop and have to get in line as you say, but maybe it would be a better fit for the smaller fan of the 73G.

      • Not if the 737RE needs more than 24,000 lbs of thrust, that is were the PW1500G limit is currently (a growth engine would need a development programme, and almost yield an engine different enough to warrant a family name of its own).

  5. There is always time for a complete new airplane and that should be done with the customers and the passengers in mind. So far, all I heard about is a new single isle concept. Well that is to slow to load and unload and cannot offer large enough bin space to satisfy the frequent flyer who never checks a bag. Twin isle domestic is the new 737. Sadly one of the best least expensive ways to achieve it was wasted with the loss of the 757 wing line. That combined with the 767 fuselage would have already given Boeing a new domestic twin isle and the current 737 question would be mute. There are other opportunities on which Boeing could leverage current structures.
    +1

  6. The only intrinsic benifits of an all new design will primarily only be a result of materials & power plants, subject to RR entering the fray the power plants are almost available as required.

    Were aware of the not inconsiderable structural demanded in any 737 re-engine a process, unlike the NEO that process would likely mean five years before anything flys, even then would it meet the NEO economics. With order books bulging & manufacturers boasting about how many they might knock out of factories Boeings best option appears to go for an all new airframe, in light of the competition anything else would appear to be a waste of resouces, time & money.

  7. The strength of the 320NEO is the range and the higher MTOW. If Boeing re-engines they could target a lighter less powerful engine aimed at the 73G with less range and capability, but higher fuel efficiency. As fuel costs go up, carriers are dropping longer routes, and mission specific mixed fleets gain economic traction over commonality.

    The next step for anything bigger, involves a larger fan which leads to a new airplane.

  8. As for the new airplane, I’m voting for a cross section of 14′-6″ in 2-2-2. 25 rows on a short model or up to 50 rows on a stretch with seating for 300.

  9. John F. Suttert.
    You commented that: “There is ALWAYS time for a complete new airplane and
    that should be done with the customers and the passengers in mind. So far,
    all I heard about is a new single isle concept.”
    Not so I believe, because comments from major players in the business, like
    Steve Hazy and the majority of others, have made it very clear that ONLY an
    all new, carbon-fiber structured airplane, preferably twin-isled for quick turn-
    arounds and NOT a re-engined 737, will be acceptable and able to compete
    effectively with the A320NEO family and prevent a massive swing towards the
    NEO and away from a re-engined 737.

    The analogy with the Mustang and a new engine is, in my opinion, not valid,
    because an old Mustang has historic value only, for those few who have one
    and can afford to install a new engine.
    The near 50 year old conventionally structured 737, requires major structural
    changes to it’s wing, body as well as a new landing gear and have only a more
    fuel efficient engine in common with the decade more structurally modern
    A320NEO with a wider cabin.
    From the perspective of an old Boeing aircraft salesman and based on the
    above parameters, a re-engined 737 in competition with the NEO, would NOT
    be a very hopeful project to work on and similar to the challenge I had, selling
    the “modified” 747, the 747SP, against the all new DC-10 and L1011!

  10. Rudy,

    What do you think Boeing, and Airbus have told AA and DL? Do you think Boeing gave them a great deal on leased (enhanced) B-737NGs, and make each the launch customers for the B-797? If they did, Boeing would have to launch it very soon, as WN and UA will also be looking at large orders of NBs in the not to distant future.

    In other words lease the B-738s and B-739s in the interium until the NSA is available?

    I thought the B-737NG had a newer wing than the A-32X, or A-32X-NEO have. Wasn’t the wing changed when they went from the B-737-CLASSICs to the B-737NG, then strenghtened when the blended winglets were added?

    I think Airbus may have made the same offer, as neither AA, nor DL can now get any NEOs delivered before about 2017 or 2018. WN and UA would be somewhere further down the A-32X-NEO backlog road.

    But if the NSA can get an EIS in 2019, or so, and Boeing can give very attractive lease or purchase prices for the interimun aircraft, that may be a deal AA, DL, and later WN and UA cannot walk away from.

  11. Steven Udvar was very much against much the re-engining of the A320, together with a string of banks and leasing companies. The rest is history.

    Steven is great guy and right on the ball often.

  12. I wish tot add the following quote from Airbus COO, John Leahy, in this
    week’s F. I. Magazine, to my comments above, where he is reveling in
    an A320NEO order from long-time Boeing (737) operator, Garuda in
    Indonesia, as follows:
    “I love nose-to-nose comparisons: our NEO against older technology. It
    usually comes down in our favor.”
    The word “usually” is an overstatement by Leahy, but how many more
    losses like it is Boeing prepared to take, before making the decision in
    favor of an all new airplane, instead of a re-engined 737?

    • The principle of supply & demand & actual sales indicates that if EADS had a higher production capacity than it currently enjoys it would sell that capacity at Boeings cost, under question with home grown purchasing loyalties severely under threat these are worrying times.

      As growth in single aisle & ultra large airfames transfers to EADS Boeing knows it can only address this endless defection of once loyal carriers with all new airframes that satisfy both the single & ultra large sectors in a timely & competitive manner.

      • True, I think.

        OK, lets take this in reverse: How much less “book to delivery” time would Boeing need to provide to compensate for the NEO performance advantage ( How would cheaper purchase fit in )?
        Would Airbus be capable of and willing to outproduce Boeing
        in the NB domain?
        Would marginalising Boeing kick off a retaliatory trade war from the US?

  13. If Boeing are seriously looking at cranking up the 737 output to 60/month, the huge cost associated with this would possibly be a confirmation that 737RE is going to happen.
    Surely this would not be worthwhile as a way of clearing the backlog of the current model?

  14. “If Boeing are seriously looking at cranking up the 737 output to 60/month, the huge cost associated with this would possibly be a confirmation that 737RE is going to happen”

    My thought too..

  15. After looking at the choices (an not being able to make one) and reading the comments here (especially from mneja), I have come to appeciate the bind that Boeing is actually in. I also believe that many people keep overlooking keesje’s and Uwe’s observations that a new NB (or smaller airliner, or short range or commuter style aircraft?) would require some 50 years of certification upgrades that Boeing has been able to avoid in the 737 series.
    Another thought about a new aircraft now; if Boeing does come out with something new around the end of the decade, what will it be? Do they really want to be so early out the door ahead of Airbus? If they go double aisle and Airbus responds with a much lighter single aisle that makes the time saving economics go out the window in the face of extra fuel costs, it would put the in a real fix (this is a theoretical scenario but one of many different ones that are, I hope, being played out at Boieng right now).
    I do believe that Boeing will go ahead with a re-engine that will not quite catch up to the NEO (does it really need to?) but will suffice in keeping their portion of the market until the time that both of the big boys are ready to tackle a successor to this segment, at more or less the same time frame.

    Before all of those that want to claim that the NEO has only brought the A320 family on a level with the 737 series, might I refer you to the sales numbers at the recent major air show in June? Please add to that the fact that certain Boeing customers are looking for replacements and do not seem to be interested in the current crop of Boeing narrow body offerings.

  16. Glad to see I belong to the smart minority who called it correctly… re-engine was so obviously the way to go!

    (Disclaimer: at the time of writing (just after the AA announcement) the poll stands at 38% NSA, 23% re-engine, 29% both)

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