Boeing comments on the 737RE

As the aviation world waits for Boeing to define the 737RE, it might be worth taking a close look at the July 27 earnings call discussion relating to the airplane, apart from the topic of where the aircraft will be built—we covered that thoroughly last week.

Our resource is the earnings call transcript as published by Seeking Alpha. As we go through the transcript, we will highlight certain statements and then offer some commentary at the end of the section.

Here is what CEO Jim McNerney said in his prepared remarks.

Also in recent months, a broader customer view has emerged in support of the greater certainty of gaining significant incremental improvement in a re-engined 737 in the near to midterm over the more perfect solution which may be available further down the road. It has always been our view that if it looked like we are putting meaningful market share at risk by waiting to do a new airplane, we would re-engine instead. That combined with our new engine technical production assessment against lead time for new engine decision led us to the judgment that we have made.

We are confident that our re-engined 737 will maintain the value proposition we have in the marketplace today and we expect to see strong demand for this product. It will be the most fuel-efficient airplane in its segment and have the lowest operating cost, while also meeting customer needs for range, payload, standardization, reliability and fleet compatibility.

Over the next several weeks, we will continue our work to finalize the configuration and other details in anticipation of a launch this fall pending board approval.

Comment: As we have talked with our various market sources, one believed Boeing would suffer a market-share drop of at least 20% if it elected to proceed with a new airplane instead of a re-engine. This drop would come because customers would pull back on orders for the 737NG while waiting for the new airplane. Whether this is a valid number might be debatable, but the theory is consistent with McNerney’s comments. Earlier this year, Boeing Capital Corp. held an investor’s meeting in New York and remarks indicated that Boeing was prepared to take a 10% 737 market share drop in favor of a new airplane, figuring it would regain it with an aircraft superior to the A320neo family. Then there is the question of whether Boeing could actually afford a new airplane program, a topic McNerney did not address, in light of the losses on the 787 and 747-8 programs and the billions in cost overruns and delayed cash flow. Finally, there was strong undercurrent that the Board of Directors was not prepared to approve another new airplane program with the 787 and 747 programs in the condition they are in.

Robert Spingarn – Crédit Suisse AG

I’d like to ask a comprehensive question on the 737 re-engine, and so it is a multiple part but I think it’s important. Knowing that you haven’t launched the aircraft yet, I suspect there’s still some detail framework around it in order to — since it was the key, I think, to the American win. So could you add some more color on the following items. First, the configuration, is this an engines-only exercise to mitigate cost? And how should we think about the R&D profile and CFM’s share of that profile? And then what are your market expectations for this model, in particular for the near-term domestic competitions? And then finally, if you could clarify American’s comment that it doesn’t expect to receive delivery of this model until 2018, suggesting that it is not the launch operator while it may be the launch customer.

McNerney

Well, let’s see. I’ll start at the beginning. As I may — as I said in my comments, because I anticipate that there may be more than one question on this, so I’ll try to sweep a number of these in. As most of you know, as I said in my remarks, we spent the better part of the last year or 18 months pushing hard on both options. And as the new small airplane largely a technical and production question, re-engine, largely a marketplace acceptance question because the do-ability of it technically is less costly and has less risk. I think what we’ve seen over the last, I would say over the last 2 to 3 months, we’ve seen the marketplace assessment pushing more for the re-engined option. We’ve also been somewhat more mindful of the risks associated with getting a massive new production system up on an all-new airplane by 2019, which doesn’t suggest we couldn’t do it but there is more risk as you get deeper into it than perhaps we appreciated at the beginning of the assessment. You combine these two things and you get to a re-engine decision. And just to bear on one part of your question, it is largely about the engine. The configuration that we’re looking at is that there will be some systemic impact on parts of the airframe. But I think I would characterize our strategy as to minimize those while still achieving the kinds of operating efficiency, cash-on-cash and performance goals that I mentioned in my talk. I think that’s one advantage of this option quite frankly is that we do have confidence that CFM can produce the engine. And we see very manageable risk on incorporating it into, and integrating it, into the airframe. So again, and we’ve been studying this for awhile, so this didn’t occur to us a week before the American Airline competition. This is something — and I would characterize the American Airlines’ deal as part of a much broader voice of the marketplace that it is very highly valuing efficiency today versus more efficiency tomorrow. And you know the environment they’re operating in and perhaps — and we’ve always said that the last thing we would do is do an all-new airplane if it put a lot of market share at risk in the short and medium term. And that which gets to the question of would the marketplace wait for the perfect solution further down the road or not? And so mix that all together and that’s where we ended up. You had one specific American Airline campaign question and I’ve lost it.

Comment: Boeing has been looking at several configurations of the airplane and market estimates of the R&D cost have ranged from $1bn to $4bn, depending on the extent Boeing has to go to revamp the 737 and whether the FAA is going to require re-certification of the airplane. It’s commonly accepted that, like Airbus, some strengthening of the wing and wingbox will be required to accommodate the heavier LEAP engine. Whether the nose gear has to be raised depends entirely on the fan size and as of today, this has not been determined. There is a question of how much of the systems may change. Boeing is considering putting a 787-style cockpit in the airplane but it is unknown outside the company if the decision to do so has been made. A new wing or new wing configuration has also been looked at.

Buckingham Research, in its post-earnings note, estimated the following costs:

We think the new wing/center wing box design could cost ~$1bn. BA has already unveiled a new interior for the 737 and will very likely incorporate planned avionics improvements into the 737RE. We think Boeing may consider including a 787 cockpit as that would add a competitive advantage to customers looking for a common cockpit with both widebody and narrowbody aircraft. Integration work and avionics engineering could cost as much as $500mn-$750mn. New avionics will almost certainly require recertification of the 737RE at a cost of roughly $750mn to $1bn.

What’s worth noting is that the analyst, Richard Safran, is a former aerospace engineer with Northrop and has some real basis to make these cost estimates.

But note that McNerney talks about “minimizing” changes and below, CFO James Bell gives an R&D estimate. And remember that back in March we interview Mike Bair, the VP for Future 737 programs, who told us the R&D on re-engining was closer to $2bn than the market-reported $4bn.

Thus, we conclude that Boeing is going to try and keep the changes to the airframe to a minimum rather than go with things like a new wing.

McNerney did not answer the question of what is the share of CFM for the R&D.

Robert Spingarn – Crédit Suisse AG

That, Jim, and the R&D profile perhaps from James.

McNerney

Yes, okay. Yes, James, you can talk to the R&D profile which is very manageable, okay. The 2018 is less a function of when we can get the airplane done. And more a function of when American Airlines needed the plane.

Comment: This is contrary to what American told us. American said flatly it does not want to be the first customer to operate a new airplane. Nothing was said about 2018 being a “function of when American Airlines needed the plane.”

James Bell

On R&D, Rob, obviously, a derivative airplane is a lot less expensive, a lot less risk associated with than an all-new airplane. So we will see that the R&D impact to this will be a lot less. R&D will go down in ’12 as we’ve told you. I think it was going down at any scenario but obviously, we will have a better opportunity to do a little better in ’12 than we probably previously thought if we were doing a totally new airplane.

Robert Spingarn – Crédit Suisse AG

James, you said before that R&D on something like this is something like 10% to 15% of a new aircraft, is that fair?

James Bell

That’s probably about right. Yes, about right.

Comment: This suggests Boeing’s share of the R&D is $1bn-$1.5bn if a new airplane would cost $10bn. Unclear, as noted above, is what the CFM cost is over and above Boeing’s share.

Joseph Nadol – JP Morgan Chase & Co

I’d like to dig into pricing a little bit on the RE to the degree you’re willing to share anything. Airbus has said in the past that they are going to get and are getting a multimillion dollar premium for the NEO than they were for the A320 classic. And I’m wondering if you can say, stand today and say that a part of your business model and you will demand a premium for your aircraft? And then the second part of this is with that in mind, as we look out beyond the next few years in the 737 but really into the middle part of the decade, how sustainable do you think those fantastic margins are just as you put together the business case?

McNerney

Well, I think there’s no question that we will be delivering significant productivity to the airlines with the re-engined product. I think the fuel efficiency is, and this is fairly conservative isn’t it, in the 10% to 12% range, operating cost improvements are also significant. So an airline in a perfect world would be willing to pay for that. And we expect to capture a large part of the value in the pricing. Obviously–and that’s our plan– obviously, the competitive element, campaign to campaign, can get in the way of that. And that’s reality, but that’s another reason I think to take–to find a sweet spot of a lot of value but with manageable financial and technical risk. And that’s the approach we’ve taken. But we expect–we plan on it and we expect to get value. You’re right, Joe, that we are at a, I don’t want to say high watermark but I want to say pretty robust level now that we’ve been producing this plane for a long time. And I think those margins are sustainable.

Comment: We talked with the fleet planner of a major airline who has seen data that Boeing has to offer up to this point. His department concluded that all-in, the 737RE will be 10% more efficient than today’s 737-800. We note, however, that the situation is still fluid and the configuration is not yet firm.

Ronald Epstein – BofA Merrill Lynch

Sorry to keep beating on the 737 horse, but kind of back to that. I think I understand why the 737 re-engining decision was made, but I guess it’s not clear to me how it was in that time frame. I mean, can you speak to what is the broader strategy for Boeing in the narrowbody market? By doing the re-engining, you presumably aren’t going to do the new airplane, which was presumably going to be bigger. So how do you solve the — when you had a bigger narrowbody problem with this and it just seems like it was done kind of last minute under duress in a campaign. Can you speak to that?

McNerney

Yes. I mean, I do understand where that question comes from, I think. But I do want to emphasize again that we have been studying the re-engine option to the same degree that we’ve been studying a new airplane option for the last year or more. So this was not something that we sidled up to at the last minute. Admittedly though, Ron, and our view of the marketplace changed over the last 3 months, I would say. And as I said in my — in answer to the last question, I think the significant economics that we can deliver with re-engine are more highly valued over the next 5 to 7 years than even better economics after that point. And this is in-depth discussion with customers and one of which was American Airlines. But believe me, that was not the only customer we talked to. And that we also validated that the re-engine could deliver the kind of numbers I alluded to earlier. You wrapped that all — that combined with the not having all the answers we wanted on the production system to support an all-new airplane in hand, I think that — so the technical risk kind of moved to the right and the marketplace moved to the left, if I can phrase it that way. And that’s why we made the call we did.

David Strauss – UBS Investment Bank

Jim, following on that question, you talked about the re-engined airplane, some of the operating economics kind of in absolute terms. Can you talk about what kind of operating economics you think this airplane will have relative to the NEO? I think you’ve spoken in the past that you actually think that on a cash operating cost per seat basis that the NG actually has, still has better economics than the NEO. And as a follow-up question, can you give us a time frame when you would expect to make a decision on the exact fan size that’s going to go on, that you put under the wing of re-engined airplane?

McNerney

Yes. I think, as to the first part of your question, let me just get into the end zone quickly. Based on the data we’ve got and the customer data we’ve got, we believe our re-engined airplane will be — have roughly the same margin of capability over the NEO as our current airplane has over the current A320, which is sort of a 2%, 3%, 4% depending on the mission, depending on the model cash-on-cash gap. And so we plan on based on what we know now of retaining that gap is one way to think about it. The fan size, we have studied a number of options on the fan size very thoroughly. We’ve also studied some elements of core configuration, too. So trust me when I tell you that this has not gone unstudied. We are centering now the two teams on a favored configuration that we’ve been working on. And it would be premature to mention right now what it is until we get — until have we got the approval, and customers know specifically about it. But I think we’re in pretty good shape, that we have centered on an option that makes sense to us.

Comment: McNerney largely contradicts the Boeing pre-Paris Air Show press briefings in which the media was told the 737NG has an 8% margin over the A320 (a figure which Airbus has always disputed). Two percent is more in line with what an operator of A320s and 737NGs tells us. This same operator concludes that the 737RE will “restore the status quo,” giving the 737-800RE a 2% advantage over the A320neo.

As for fan size, we understand the consensus seems to be narrowing in on the 66” fan. This means no nose gear changes with the cascading effect of minimizing changes to the airframe, wing and wingbox, thus reducing R&D costs.

48 Comments on “Boeing comments on the 737RE

  1. I agree, a 66″ fan makes more sense, at least right now. But Boeing has also talked about a fan size up to about 70″ could also fit and no need to extend the NLG. Boeing must maintane a 17″ ground clearance under the engines, no matter which fan size is finally decided on. This is needed to clear the standard lenght taxiway edge lights (TWEL, the blue lights that define the taxiway width). Although there are taller extensions for TWEL at some airports that see a lot of annual snow fall (these extensions can be up to 24″, making the TWEL some 36″-42″ tall, depending on light type and manufacture), but the standard the FAA mandates is 17″.
    The CFM-56-3B engines and CFM-56-7B engines used on the CLASSIC and current NG versions of the B-737 have a BPR around 5-9 to 6.0 for the -3B/C engines and 5.1 to 5.5 for the -7B engines. The CFM LEAP engines for the A-32X-NEO will have a BPR around 10, so down scaling that should give the LEAP clipped fan for the B-737NE a BPR between about 7 and probibly just under 9. All of that is based on the fan size finally decided upon by both Boeing and GE/CFMI.
    That is enough to keep the NE competitive with the NEO, if not slightly better because of the lower weight airfram of the B-737NG compared to the current A-32X.
    The next issue will be the thrust required from the clipped fan version. This should not be of much concern for Boeing as the current versions of the LEAP engine have thrust between 18,000 lbs and 35,000 lbs. Only on the upper end of this might there be any concern, for both the A-321NEO and the B-737-900ER/NE. Both will need a minimum thrust rating around 32,000-35,000 lbs in order to be a true B-757-200 replacement. The B-739, should be able to get away with slightly less thrust compared to the A-321, as it is some 10,000 lbs lighter. Currently, I believe the A-321 powered by the CFM-56-5B1/2/3 engines have between 30,000 lbs and 33,000 lbs of thrust. Currently the B-737-900ER uses the CFM-56-7B24/26/27 engines that have between 24,000 lbs and 27,000 lbs of thrust. So, both the NEO and the NE will need a slight bump in thrust.

  2. Your comments sum it up Scott
    I cannot believe the stammering and hesitations by Mc. Nerney during the
    whole interview, but especially with his second-last comments above, where
    he implies that the reduced-size-fan was in the picture all along and did NOT
    even mention the fact that it was that smaller fan on the LEAP-X engine,
    which saved the day for Boeing at AA and prevented the whole order from
    going to Airbus!
    Therefore, I continue to ask myself why Boeing and or GE/SNECMA did not
    think about this historically-proven inhouse-solution at both Co’s, MUCH
    EARLIER!
    Had they done so, Boeing would have:
    1. Considerably reduced the avelange of A320NEO orders,
    2. Won all the orders at AA for their medium-range aircraft requirements and
    3. Avoided the whole charade for an all new aircraft, which they must have
    known all along was not in the cards for Boeing at this time, before the
    787 and 747-8 start bringing in the cash, because it would have been too
    late, too costly and, therefore, NOT have been approved by the Boeing
    Board of Diretors!

  3. It is time to start looking at what Boeing could do by way of redefining the narrow body ,now that the decision has been made for Boeing by the market ,B has to get it right ,by ensuring that it retains the slight lead over A in overall economics.
    The question is , how will it go about it?
    will it be a compromise in terms of engine size and efficiencies or a more robust tweak that would last another decade before the NSA comes on with doable commercial technologies.
    Boeing has to make the most of what is a lucky break with a much reduced risk profile of the RE project .I would propose , it invests time and money and make the 737 a final upgrade worth it’s while-with a raised landing gear ,even new wings and as large a fan as possible to ward off the 320 and the new competition.
    It is time to play offense within the RE decision ,with 787 winding down and protect the cash cow ,having paid a not small price -in terms of leadership , pride and credibility.
    If it means recertification,so be it. Perhaps the last chance for Boeing management in the narrow body ,with the duopoly coming to a close.

  4. Well, one way Boeing can extend the landing gear, without many major changes to the airplane and wing box is to devise a retractable oleo system on the landing gear as part of the retraction and extension cucle of the landing gear. It would be heavier and more complcated landing gear, but it can be done. Instead of retracting the gear with the oleos fully extended, as it is now on most airplanes, the cycle should include hydraulicly retracting the landing gear oleos to the current lenght to fit into the wheel wells.

    How much will the engineering and certification process cost for something like this? I have no idea. But some airplanes, like the C-5 have complicated gear retraction sequences.

  5. If it was easy for Boeing to put big fans on the 737, they wouldn’t have doubted for 2 yrs in the first place. Saying it’s easy now is only for the press.

    “As we have talked with our various market sources, one believed Boeing would suffer a market-share drop of at least 20% if it elected to proceed with a new airplane instead of a re-engine. This drop would come because customers would pull back on orders for the 737NG while waiting for the new airplane.”

    🙂 Nope. They would switch to Airbus / the NEO. Ask AA / DL in case of doubts.

    “Boeing has been looking at several configurations of the airplane and market estimates of the R&D cost have ranged from $1bn to $4bn, d……….. Boeing is considering putting a 787-style cockpit in the airplane but it is unknown outside the company if the decision to do so has been made. A new wing or new wing configuration has also been looked at.”

    It seems my “more radical 737 upgrade” concept of october wasn’t so wild after all.
    http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/tech_ops/read.main/285819/

    • If they don’t lose the grandfathering, the new cockpit section could have some benefits which would drive sales and differentiate it as a more modern plane. Nice drawing.

  6. I disagree, because the 737 is 110K LIGHTER than it’s equivalent A model and
    re-engining with the reduced fan LEAP-X WITH LOWER THRUST, is the only
    economically viable way for Boeing to compete with the NEO’s effectively!

    • The LEAP (née LEAP-X) with lower/smaller fan diameter will be lower weight, yes, due to the smaller fan and slightly lower thrust. But it will also be higher fuel burn and sfc (no, not quite the same thing), just because of the same smaller fan.

      Fan size (which is roughly same design parameter as the BPR for a given thrust and core size) is directly proportional to propulsion efficiency (google this if you do not know the exacr definition) – assuming the same gas generator efficiencys for both the large and small fan diameter versions.

      And no, it was not GE who at the last minute HAPPENED to offer a snaller fan version of the LEAP. It was already on the table, engine versions do not pop out of the blue just like that. You have repeatedly said this was so in several posts, but I assure you the smaller fan engine was on the table much earlier than that.

      In fact, I have also personally been presented a PW1000G (aka GTF, PW1000G is the official family name) version with a very unusual fan arrangement for it to fit under the wing of the 737 with the current landing gear and quite high BPR. And this was 2 yrs ago… I very much doubt a LEAP-X version for the current 737 did not exist by that time…

      Engine concepts/studies are usually made years in advance of any firm airplane design. I know this for a fact, having worked more than ten years in the engine industry, with all the majors in the business (GE, RR and PW) and on all the latest programs: Trent, GEnx, GP7000 and PW1000G…

      So, no, the LEAP with small fan was not a last minute desperate effort by GE, and no, the small fan LEAP for the 737 will not be as good as the large fan version for the A32X despite slightly lower thrust. The smaller version will have the core common with the larger version after all…

  7. Thank heavens for Scott, maintaining the voice of impartiality & sanity, others take note, as speculation & rumour abounds around the 737RE many of the the contributors here seem to be re-enginering this aeroplane on the back of fag packet, suffice to say Boeing understand they need to get this right first time & at best speed.

    Many reading & contributing to this article understand the array of challenges Boeing faces, others have seemingly become very dubious instant airframe designers, if only a negligable amount of the potential design changes mentioned here were implimented the EIS would slip interminably toward the end of this decade, that is neither acceptable or likely.

  8. Rudy, that’s the basic choice Boeing has to make. If they keep modifications to a minimum, they will have lower weights, costs, risks, time to market and ..bypass ratio, efficiency and .. marketshare?

    Airbus A320s outsold /outproduced the 737NG before the sharklets and higher BPR LEAP/GTF.

    There is no easy way out on 737 re-engining, there never was and still isn’t. A reason why Boeing sticked to the NSA for so long.

  9. An extendable landing gear similar to Concorde could be a good option if they can make the space available. The current MLG seems to be a very cosy fit.
    There would be some weight penalty which would benefit the 32xneo.

  10. No body said the B-737NE design work will be easy. BTW, over about the last 10-12 years, the B-737NG/A-32X sales and production has been pretty evenly split at 50/50. One year the A-32X might get a slight lead, the next year it was the B-737NG.

    Comparing the current versions of the A-32X and B-737, it is the Boeing that is more efficent. Adding the winglets to the A-32X will help close that effeicency gap, but not completely. Airbus cannot match the Boeing in weight, which not only effects fuel consumption and costs, but landing fees, and other costs too.

    While I agree the A-32X-NEO will have a much higher BPR than what the B-737NE can have, that is not the only definition of efficency. Boeing and GE/CFMI believe the clipped fan LEAP engine on the B-737 will provide some 10%-12% more fuel efficency than the current CFM-56-7B engines it now has. This is about the same fuel efficency the LEAP-2B engine provides the NEO. The rest of the 3%-5% efficency on the A-32X is because of the winglets. But Boeing has been putting winglets on the B-737NG for more than 10 years now, first as an option, and then as standard equipment. Airbus is just now catching up with blended winglet technology.

    Boeing plans to have some aero-dynamic improvements to the B-737, too. What they will be and how much more efficent it will make the B-737NG, has not been said by Boeing.

    But in the entire reengining compitition between A & B, Boeing still has an advantage Airbus will never be able to match on the A-32X airframe. That is a 10,000 lb lighter airframe for the B-737NG over its A-32X competitor. The weight advantage spreads across all B-737NG models against all A-32X models.

    The heavier A-32X will always have a range and fuel burn penalty, not to mention higher land fees do to this additional weight. When the NEO package is added, the weight goes up another 2-4 tonnes in new engines, new struts, wing strenghting (inner wing to the engines, and other wings for the winglets), stronger landing gear, wing box, additional wiring and plumbing for the hydraulics, etc. The B-737NE weight will go up, too, because of the heavier engine (but not as heavy as the engine on the NEO), new struts, and some wing strenghting. No additional wiring should be needed, but the hydraulic plumbing may have to change. The outer wings do not need strenghtening, as they already have blended winglets on them.The wing box, may, or may not have to be strenghtened, depending on how much a design change Boeing decides on for the B-737NG. This might add some 1-3 extra tonnes to the weight of the B-737.

    BTW, the B-737NE project is awaiting board approval for the go-ahead, then the design work can begin. The A-32X-NEO is now in the design phase, but nothing has been ‘frozen’, yet, and the NEO needs to have designs for 2 different engines.

    • Many reading & contributing to this article understand the array of challenges Boeing faces, others have seemingly become very dubious instant airframe designers.

    • The NEO will have the same interface for the engines reardless of engine (I know since I worked on one of the two programs), at lest the physical one, I do not have a complete pic of the electronic interface. This is similar to the GEnx-1B and the Trent 1000 on the 787 btw.

      Also, the LEAP for the 737 will have the same core as the smaller fan LEAP for the 737 so weights of the two verisons will be close…

      If I may venture a guess, it would be max 100 kg difference per engine between the two variants (assuming the same number of stages in the LPT for the two versions). I do not think this is very much in the circumstances. Compare e.g. the two GEnx siblings 1B and 2B which have a 10% diff in thrust and 0.1m/6in diff in fan diameter and a 400 lbs weight difference (weight obviously scales with thrust).

      In additon, remember that Boeing have been very good at tweaking the 737 aerodynamically for the last ten years, tweaking Airbus have not done on the A32X and thus can still make for additional performance… Boeing are near road’s end on the 737, while Airbus still have some distance left…

    • With all the advantages you enumerate the A320 family should never have sold a
      single airframe.
      Now into the real world:
      With a bunch of advantages ( less frontal area, less weight, a newer wing, super efficient winglets, a lighter engine) the 737 range about matches the A320 family ( still without winglets).
      Today the 737 seems to be advantaged on shorter legs
      while the A320 gains on longer flights ( see Mandalas “table works” on A.net).
      So most of the 737 advantage is from lower weight ( enabled by being build to
      much less stringent crashworthiness and engine out performance ).
      Keeping scale in mind Airbus seems to be able to easily outperform the 737.
      Add winglets and the Airbus advantages beyond absolute short range hops
      will widen further by a significnat margin.

      With a minimum change upgrade Boeing will be unable move their situation much.
      Anything beyond a minimum change upgrade will endanger the very advantageous
      grandfathering on a sixties design incurring a drain on a range of resources. Money, Engineering, Time and bickering with the FAA.

      Boeing seems to be in an unpleasant bind.

      • I believe the B-737NG has a more modern wing than the A-32X has. The wing profile was changed in the mid-90s when Boeing changed from the B-737CLASSICs to the B-737NG.

        The range of the A-320 and A-321 has always been less than the B-737-800 and B-757-200. B6 often has to schedule a tech stop on their TRANSCON from BOS and JFK to LAX and other west coast airports. Usually the tech/refuel stop is in PHX. OTOH, AA and DL B-738s and B-752s don’t need that stop and can easily fly non-stop for TRANSCON missions. In fact, both the B-752 and B-738 are also used on west coast flights to Hawaii, something the A-320/-321 cannot do to an island destination with the required fuel reserves (2 hours of holding for bad weather).

        The range of the B-737-700 and -700ER is compatable with the A-319. I won’t discuss either the B-737-600 or A-318 as neither are selling well (I don’t think a B-736 has sold in some 7-8 years, maybe longer)

        It is because of the range advantage and weight advantage the B-737NG has sold fairly well to military units. The B-737NG has AEW&C versions, the P-8, and C-40 versions. I don’t recall any A-32X version being sold to any military organization, although it has been offered.

      • Let me correct my last statement. The A-319/-320 has been bought by military units for VIP transports, just like the B-737-BBJ/-BBJ2 has for the C-40B/C versions.

  11. Perhaps you are right, mneja. The additional weight for the NEO and NE over the original versions of both planes may be very close. But I think it will be much more than just about 200 kg per airplane. The B-737NG starts out with a 10,000 lb advantage over the A-32X-CLASSIC. Also the NEO versions will be adding winglets, and the supporting wing structure, the CLASSIC version currently does not have.

    Your example between the GEnx-1B and GEnx-2B engines of 400 lbs (I thought it was closer to 425 lbs difference, but I defer to your expertise) difference in weight is nearly 200 kg. (440 lbs) itself. But IIRC, the GEnx-2B67 (B-747-8 engine) is also slightly shorter and has 3 LPCs compared to the GEnx-1B64/67/70 (B-787-8/-9 engines) 4 LPCs. I agree the difference in fan size is about 6″ between the two GEnx engines. The BPR of the -1B70 engine is 9.6:1, while the -2B67 engine BPR is lower at about 8.5:1.

    But back to the LEAP-NEO (my name for it since I don’t know the official name) and the LEAP-CLIPPED (again, my name for it since I don’t know the official name), do we or don’t we know if they will have the same number of LPCs, or not? Do you think both engine versions will be the same lenght? I belive the A-320 CFM-56-5B4 engine is just slight longer and slightly heavier than the B-737-800 CFM-56-7B27, they both have different BPRs (-5B4 is 5.7:1 and the -7B27 is 5.1:1) but identical thrust (27,000 lbs each) and the same number of LPCs. I think you are right the LEAP-CLIPPED versions will have lower thrust, by around 2,000-2,500 lbs compared to the LEAP-NEO versions. the CLIPPED version doesn’t need that extra thrust. I write it that way because I believe both Airbus and Boeing customers would want different thrust options, as they do now.

    • A few more things:

      * I never proposed anything about the aircraft weights, I only guessed the ENGINE weights. Engines are my field, I know about a/c what I learnt when in the engine business. I think that based on the GEnx numbers it would be reasonable to expect max 100kg diff between the two LEAP versions (provided that they are similar in concept). Major weight drivers are number of stages and internal frame sizes, and the frames I think will be close to identical (they are very expensive and time consuming to produce, and to build tooling for). The remainder is a few stages difference in LPC and/or LPT which I think is around 100 kg.

      * I think it is very likely that the LPC and LPT will be different for the two LEAP versions, like you point out was the case for the GEnx. This is so obvious to me so I did give it additional thought. Maybe should have considered this is not so for everyone…

      * Simplified concepctual design: the fan size is decided first, then the LPC. The LPC stage and blade count depends on the core (HPC, CC and HPT) and how that can be changed between the two versions. The core will be very similar, but perhaps with one stage less in the HPC and one stage more in the LPC on the larger version (compare GE90). A first pass at LPT is made (mainly number of stages, blade and vane counts) after that. This is usually how far the engine design is made at the current stage I would guess.

      * Once in the preliminary design phase, the low pressre and high pressure systems might be modified one way or the other as more reliable numbers on efficiency, weight etc become available. Sometimes you come out on top and can take the efficiency benefit or you can reduce your efficiency and also you weight (depends on where you are relative spec). Sometimes you need to improve and perhaps add an LPT stage to increase efficiency (and then try to remove that added weight from other components). But this phase is some time away yet on the 737 LEAP (I would think that the PW1000 is ahead otoh, perhaps already in detailed design).

  12. Friends and MNEJAL in particular, believe me, it can be done and was done at
    the last minute 30 years ago, when GE/SNECNA, also in desperation and at
    the last minute, reduced the fan-diameter on the CFM-5 engine to make it
    possible for Boeing to put it on the 737-200ADV and reappear as the 737-300
    in 1981, causing the 737 to become the best-selling airplane in aviation history,
    as I reported earlier!

    And, if that had not happened, the 737 program would not only have come to
    a premature end, it would have been challenged FROM WITHIN Boeing,
    with the GE “UNDUCTED-FAN” ENGINED 7J7, which failed to create any in-
    terest and was cancelled in 1984.
    Fortunately, the 737-300 had started selling very well, enabling Boeing to
    reverse course and launch the 737-400, but NOT UNTIL AFTER Airbus
    stepped into the picture with the A320. purely because Boeing management
    had no faith in the 737 program and fooled around with the 7J7 for too long,
    enabling Airbus to launch the A320 instead of the A330/340, as they had
    planned.

    Summery, as I see it and based on personal experience at LH 30 years ago:
    If Boeing had known about a reduced-fan LEAP-X engine earlier and now
    knowing that they could NOT have gotten approval from the Board for an
    all-new airplane, they fooled around with the all-new a/p much to long, would
    and should have zeroed in on the RE much earlier and been able to offer it to
    AA, in time to get the whole business and keep Airbus and the NEO OUT of
    AA and who knows how many other major US carriers!

    • Sure it can be done, I just do not think that it was in this particular case.

      I (and I am quite sure everyone agrees) know Boeing were thinking about a re-engine 737 long time ago (studying various options regarding MLG, NLG and what have you).

      CFM would have been in the loop then responding with engine consequences, challenges and opportunities.

      You keep saying GE when you talk about the LEAP, but it is a JV product (of CFM, JV between GE and Snecma/Safran). In fact, GE makes the high pressure system (HPC, CC and HPT) while Snecma makes the low pressure system (fan, LPC and LPT). They assemble 50% of the engines each. If would be Snecma to pull the rabbit out of the hat and make the fan magic you are referring to. Interesting point: the composite LEAP fan will be Snecma tech, not the GE know-how from the GE90 and GEnx (I could be wrong here, I am not 100% on this).

  13. There’s a reasonable chance Boeing will loose the grandfathered older certification requirements on the 737 because of the modifications. Those are biggest reason for the lower OEW.

  14. Keesje, we don’t really know if the B-737NE will be grandfathered to the original B-737-100 certification, or not. Right now any of us could do is guess. My guess is it will be grandfathered. My guess on the final configueration is the weight difference between the B-737NG and A-32X will stay about the same as it is today.

  15. KC135TopBoom :
    I believe the B-737NG has a more modern wing than the A-32X has. The wing profile was changed in the mid-90s when Boeing changed from the B-737CLASSICs to the B-737NG.

    The more recent design, certainly. But Airbus seems to have a very good hand at
    doing cost effective aero designs. ( I referenced a NASA study some time ago.)

    It is because of the range advantage and weight advantage the B-737NG has sold fairly well to military units. The B-737NG has AEW&C versions, the P-8, and C-40 versions. I don’t recall any A-32X version being sold to any military organization, although it has been offered.

    Hmm the advantage may be there but the reason for purchase lies in a rather closed market.
    The MRT(T) Tankers are a first inroad into this market.

  16. KC135TopBoom :
    No body said the B-737NE design work will be easy. BTW, over about the last 10-12 years, the B-737NG/A-32X sales and production has been pretty evenly split at 50/50. One year the A-32X might get a slight lead, the next year it was the B-737NG.

    Not exactly right mate.
    Astuteman over at A.net has a good summary of the last 10 years:
    “Comparing the last 10 years..
    From start 2001 to end 2010 (thus avoiding any real “NEO” interference)
    Airbus delivered 3 150 A320 family.
    Boeing delivered 2 780 737 family.
    At the end of 2010, the A320 backlog was roughly 2 400 aircraft.
    The 737 backlog was about 2 150 aircraft

    If we make that 5 years to end 2010..,
    Airbus delivered 1 900 A320.
    Boeing delivered 1 670 737’s.
    And yet the A320 backlog was still roughly 250 higher at the end of 2010.”
    http://images.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/5206296/1/

    There is a clear advantage for the A320 family in orders, deliveries AND backlog against the 737NG.
    We need to see what the 737RE would look like when Boeing finally decides to offer it but by the looks of things the A320 sales advantage is going to be maintained if not expanded.

  17. Correct, Uwe. The MRTT tankers are the first for Airbus/EADS. That began with the converted A-310MRTTs and now the new build A-330MRTTs. I don’t think there would be a need for a tanker version of the A-32X/-NEO or B-737NG/NE . But if their was, the most likely models would be a KC-319NEO or KC-737-700NE/NE-ER.

    I agree that Airbus benefits from NASA studies just as much as Boeing does.

  18. “I agree that Airbus benefits from NASA studies just as much as Boeing does.”

    Now, if that was reality somehow …

    ** NASA allows Boeing to participate in research programmes, making payments to Boeing under those programmes, or enables Boeing to exploit the results thereof by means including but not limited to the foregoing or waiving of valuable patent rights, the granting of limited exclusive rights data (“LERD”) or otherwise exclusive or early access to data, trade secrets
    and other knowledge resulting from government funded research.

    ** NASA provides the services of NASA employees, facilities, and equipment to support Boeing
    R&D programmes listed above and paying salaries, personnel costs, and other
    institutional support, thereby providing valuable services to Boeing on terms more favourable than available on the market or not at arm’s length.

    ** Nasa provides Boeing Independent Research & Development, and Bid & Proposal
    Reimbursements.

    ** Nasa allows Boeing to use the research, test and evaluation facilities owned by the US Government, including NASA wind tunnels, in particular the Langley Research Center.

    ** Nasa enters into procurement contracts with Boeing for more than adequate remuneration.

    ** Nasa grants Boeing exclusive or early access to data, trade secrets, and other knowledge resulting from government funded research.

    ** Nasa allows Boeing to exploit the results of government funded research, including, but not limited to, the foregoing or waiving of valuable patent rights or rights in data as such

    Saying Airbus benefits from NASA studies just as much as Boeing does, is an idea shared by few people. I wonder where that idea comes from..

    http://www.google.nl/search?q=nasa+boeing&rlz=1I7HPEA_nl&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=&um=1&hl=nl&biw=1425&bih=926&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

  19. NASA picks up most of its aircraft used. They do not fly Boeing jets exclusively. NASA has 2 DC-8s currently and has had jets from other OEMs. They still fly Northrop T-38s.

    Some aircraft they have were the only aircraft that could do the job, at the time they needed it. The 2 B-747 Shuttle Carriers are an example of that. There were only 2 airplane types, at the time that could carry the shuttle, the B-747 and the C-5, there was no A-380 back then. The USAF did not want to give up 2 C-5s. The B-29, B-50, and B-52s NASA used to carry aircraft/spacecraft aloft were the only ones that could do that at the time, and one B-52B, 53-008 did it for more than 50 years. There was no airplane that had the large volumn the KC-135As had for the “vomit comet’ missions. In the past few years the KC-135A has been replaced by a C-9B, because it burns less fuel and NASA no long needs the big cargo compartment space of the KC-135.

    BTW, do you know at one time Airbus SAS had a small fleet of Boeing aircraft? That’s right. I believe they had 4 B-377 SGT Super Guppies (modified by Aero Spacelines) and 1 B-377 SG Super Guppy.

    The running joke was “Every Airbus is delivered on the wings of a Boeing”, back in the early 1980s.

    I believe Airbus is restoring one of the B-377 SGT Super Guppies at TLS.

    Here is a picture of F-BPPA, in Airbus livery.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SuperGuppy-F-BPPA.jpg

    • KC what does your reply have to do with “Airbus benefits from NASA studies just as much as Boeing does” and all the points that keesje made refuting your claim?

  20. Phil :
    Many reading & contributing to this article understand the array of challenges Boeing faces, others have seemingly become very dubious instant airframe designers.

    I fully agree, good article, thank you.
    I wish that all this cheer-leading would receive more moderation. What a waste of bytes 🙂

    • CBL, and others: As long as comments fall within our Reader Comments guidelines, we don’t moderate them. We have neither the time nor inclination to do so.

      • I was talking self-moderation.
        Having to moderate these would call for their reading which would be even worse! and indeed a real waste of time 😉

  21. The A320 has a slightly better BPR then the 737NG
    The A320NEo has a significantly better BPR then the 737RE (at ~66 inch)

    The NEO sharklets will add an additional improvement that will not be matched by the 737RE winglets.

    Recent history shows Boeing always say they have it right / will be best. Recent history also gives insight into the realism of these claims.

    To conclude the 737RE will “restore the status quo” seems based on faith and hope for now.

  22. “others have seemingly become very dubious instant airframe designers.”

    Phil that picture is from a year ago. August 2010.

    As you remember nearly everyone here followed Boeing PR stating the 737NG was going hold on pretty well in the market this decade and they would outdo everyone with the NSA after, most would wait for that.

    Look in the archives, everyone supported this view, including bankers, lessors, analysts. I doubted that opinion and put it on paper too.
    http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/4907469/1/
    http://qa.airliners.net/aviation-forums/tech_ops/read.main/285819/1/

    Followed by a Boeing reaction 2 days later arguing the opposite and defended until 2 montsh ago.
    http://boeingblogs.com/randy/archives/2010/08/sharks_and_jets.html

    The rest is history.

    Before you state someone who (accurately) predicts and puts on paper a well substantiated prognosis “dubious” better do an against the main stream forecast online yourself & prove right.

    😉

  23. keesje :The A320 has a slightly better BPR then the 737NGThe A320NEo has a significantly better BPR then the 737RE (at ~66 inch)
    The NEO sharklets will add an additional improvement that will not be matched by the 737RE winglets.
    Recent history shows Boeing always say they have it right / will be best. Recent history also gives insight into the realism of these claims.
    To conclude the 737RE will “restore the status quo” seems based on faith and hope for now.

    Well, we think the B-737NE may have a 66″ fan, but Boeing, and CFMI are also looking at a fan up to 70″, which could eat into the BPR advantage of the LEAP and PW-1000G engines of the A-32X-NEO.

    The best the Airbus “Sharklets” can do is match the improvement in performance, and reduction in drag, as the Boeing Blended Winglets, or the Raked Wingtips, do now.

    You cannot deny the APB Blended Winglet program has been very successful, extending beyond the B-737NG to the B-737CLASSIC, the B-757-200/-300, and B-767-300/ER. Airbus has been dragging their feet on modern winglets for 10 years now, telling customers their little wing fences on the A-32X and A-380 is just as good as the Blended Winglets, or even the Raked Wingtips (currently on the B-767-400, B-777-200LR/-300ER/-200LRF, B-787-8/-9, B-747-8F/I, and P-8A/I).

    The fact is, even though Airbus flight tested a blended winglet on an A-320 a few years ago, they rejected using them then, and now are playing “catch-up” with the Sharklet program on just 3 models (A-319, A-320, and A-321, which all share the same wing), but have yet to expand the program to the A-380, or even A-350. Airbus is 10 years late to the winglet party.

    As far as “restoring the status quo” is for the B-737NE, we think that is what it will do. But don’t forget the B-737NG already is 10% lighter than the A-32X, it burns less fuel per nm/km, requires less thrust, and has longer range. There is a possibility the B-737NE could outperform the A-32X-NEO, in terms of fuel burn, more range, and lower total operating costs.

    “The rest is history.

    Before you state someone who (accurately) predicts and puts on paper a well substantiated prognosis “dubious” better do an against the main stream forecast online yourself & prove right.”

    How do you know your prediction is accurate? Even Boeing engineers don’t know what the NE package will look like. Airbus engineers don’t know either, they have not even frozen the NEO design and systems, yet.

    The history of both the NEO and NE has yet to be written.

  24. TB I was right in predicting a re-engined 737 iso NSA, Boeing seem to consider the higher costs of a LG/wingbox redesign & updated cockpit to. Not because they like the extra work / risk / investment, but because they experienced carriers prefer efficiency above loyalty to Boeing sometimes.

    “The fact is, even though Airbus flight tested a blended winglet on an A-320 a few years ago, they rejected using them then, and now are playing “catch-up” with the Sharklet program on just 3 models (A-319, A-320, and A-321, which all share the same wing), but have yet to expand the program to the A-380, or even A-350. Airbus is 10 years late to the winglet party.”

    Interesting. Airbus indeed didn’t get winglets on the A320, A380, kind of on the A350, the 777 doesn’t have them either. does the 787? Wait the 20 yr old a340//A330 have them.. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3221/2683382857_840931f78b.jpg

    • Had sharklets been deemed advantageous in countering any shortfall in performance they would been implimented sooner, type economics, sales & customer satisfaction with the existing design dictated any such mod much as unnecessary.

  25. Yes, the 20 year old design A-340/-330 does have winglets, as does the 25 year old design B-744. None of those have blended winglets, but they have winglets, none the less.

    “Airbus indeed didn’t get winglets on the A320, A380, kind of on the A350, the 777 doesn’t have them either. does the 787?”

    Perhaps you missed this part of my post #37:

    “You cannot deny the APB Blended Winglet program has been very successful, extending beyond the B-737NG to the B-737CLASSIC, the B-757-200/-300, and B-767-300/ER. Airbus has been dragging their feet on modern winglets for 10 years now, telling customers their little wing fences on the A-32X and A-380 is just as good as the Blended Winglets, or even the Raked Wingtips (currently on the B-767-400, B-777-200LR/-300ER/-200LRF, B-787-8/-9, B-747-8F/I, and P-8A/I).”

    Do you understand just what a “Raked Wingtip” is, and what it does? Yes, the B-777 (some models) and all the B-787 have raked wingtips instead of blended winglets.

  26. Are some of you really suggesting, that the absence of Blended Winglets,
    or even the Raked Wingtips on any Airbus aircraft, hurt their sales
    or prevented them from taking away Boeing’s preeminent position
    in the worldwide commercial aviation industry during the past decade?

  27. Rudy, if you do not have winglets, all carbon barrells and all electric systems you’re basicly done in civil aviation. Simple as that. Period.

    😉

  28. My question would be where is the Blended Wing or Flying Wing Big B spent some much time to develop with NASA? This the most efficient design for long range and fuel efficiency to date according to NASA. The comment that not all passengers would have or be close to a window doesn’t hold water if you have ever flown to Europe. Plus the interior space is larger than a similar tube fuselage and wing configuration aircraft. I am beginning to wonder if Big B has any real designers left or at least some with a real imagination. Composite panels and Gr-Al or GLARE structure would make the aircraft very light and super strong, so what is the delay?

  29. BWB has advantages e.g. fuel burn.

    Then there is a list of disadvantages that prevented implementation during the last 50 yrs.

    e.g. the weight of a big flat pressure cabin, vertical acceleration of outboard passengers during roll, evacuations stretching/shrinking /right sizing the airframe for diffrent markets, quick aircraft servicing.. etc..

    • Weight should not be a problem with new composites and GLARE for panels and structure; keep in mind that the flying wing has a huge lifting capability. Acceleration also should not be a problem as the outer areas will be cargo or fuel. If you have spent much time on commercial flights normal movements are to gentle for acceleration be a problem. Servicing should also be easily addressed by large doors in the bottom of the aircraft. With the engines mounted on the aft portions of the wing a Cherry Picker bucket-truck would easily provide servicing power plants too. The problem is that Big B does not understand how to build it. They realize this when the 787 started production the manufacture engineers had not understood the processes needed for plastic aircraft and design engineers had made errors in design of wing to fuselage connections.

      I could see that sizing could be a problem however after working on many aircraft and space craft I would love to have that huge area within the Blended Wing to work with. I remember years ago someone put a car in a modified flying wing with no problem. Without the limitations and constrains of designing within a tube it would be great! Of course this is all just my opinion.

  30. Jay, Boeing does hold a patent on a “Sonic Cruiser/BWB/Delta Wing hybrid”, with 12 across seating and 3 aisles. Will they ever offer or build a concept like this? No one knows. Boeing and Airbus come out with new concept airplane designs every now and then.

    I don’t think this airplane even has a name, yet, if it will ever get one. This is a pretty radical design by today’s standards for an airliner.

    Most concept airplanes never move off paper, this may be one of those, but you never know.

    Here is the 8 March 2010 story about it in AW&ST.

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/aviation_week/on_space_and_technology/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3Aa68cb417-3364-4fbf-a9dd-4feda680ec9cPost%3A1f0c7406-c22c-428e-9cb4-bd35371c9685

  31. Sorry guys, I was just talking about winglets and NOT the Sonic Cruiser/BWB/or
    a Delta Wing hybrid!
    End of discussion on why and how Airbus took away away Boeing’s preeminent
    position in the worldwide commercial aviation industry during the past decade,
    NOT because Boeing had Blended Winglets, or even the Raked Wingtips while
    Airbus DID NOT!

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