Another story that won’t die

We’ve recently tagged a few items “a story that won’t die.” Here is another one, the continuing analysis of the Pratt &
Whitney GTF for the Boeing 737 MAX.

Although Boeing’s Lauren Penning told The Puget Sound Business Journal there isn’t a “team” at Boeing working on this prospect, reports out of Aspire Aviation (now Orient Insight), Aeroturbopower, Airline Economics and last month’s ISTAT meeting continue to create buzz on this topic. The AirInsight piece was published in limited circulation two weeks ago.

127 Comments on “Another story that won’t die

  1. With an airframe older than the A320 (and with less groung clearance), Boeing will have to catch all 0.001’s to compete. As long as the landing gear is not giving the clearance for a large diameter turbofan the engine will have to compensate it. I have been always in favor of a new design (read my article As the two manufacturers have no competition and years of backlog, why spend more?

  2. As long as there are NO guarantees from SNECMA for their engine on the
    737MAX, there are NO real contracts for that airplane, only commitments
    subject to performance guarantees from Boeing AND SNECMA!

    In stark contrast, Airbus has firm commitments for 1,200+ A320NEOs, be-
    cause both the P&W and the GE engines on that airplane have defined
    performance guarantees on the A320NEO.

  3. So, what are we really talking about here for the B-737MAX? A new wing and wingbox will address the shorter MLG ‘problem’ too. But a new taller MLG means additional weight. How much taller would Boeing be willing to go? Making the NLG taller is less of an engineering challange. A new wing could also address the question on wingtip devices, although you don’t need a new wing to solve that.

    Are we now talking about a new Boeing composet wing and mostly composet wingbox? That will be an interesting concept, as some ‘experts’ say composets don’t scale down very well and on a scale, like the B-737, doesn’t reduce that much weight. Boeing now has experience with designing, building, installing, and fielding composet wings and airplanes, via the B-787. They should take advantage of that painful learning process if it is at all possible with the B-737MAX, and B-777X, the next two major Boeing developement programs.

    The CFM LEAP-1B engine will be a good engine. No one knows, yet, if a scaled down GTF will be as good, or better, yet. We now know the LEAP-1B engine will have a 68.4″ fan, but if Boeing has to make other changes to the airframe to fit a 71″ or 72″ fan GTF on the B-737, then CFM might just as well let the LEAP-1B grow a little.

    I am confident Boeing will meet, or exceed its goal for the MAX in comparison to the NG. Just look at the happily unexpected performance of the B-747-8F airframe if you like.

    • “but if Boeing has to make other changes to the airframe to fit a 71″ or 72″ fan GTF on the B-737, then CFM might just as well let the LEAP-1B grow a little.”

      What?! You want Boeing to give up their “sweet spot”?!

  4. If Boeing would be pushed to do a new wing, wingbox, landing gear on top of a new engine, tail, fly by wire.. I guess the next bottlenecks are the dated cockpit, cargo capability, heritage systems. Boeing knows what they want with the NSA. Investing too much in the 737 while giving this decade to Airbus and new entrants. I doubt it.

    You never know how good a new aircraft will be. Still you have order them, spend Billions, choose. Luckely airlines have smart, skilled engineers and fleet managers too, and lawyers. Better not overpromise.

    • I think if Boeing decides to make the GTF a second engine option on the MAX, that may be a game changer for the NSA. The MAX is already going to have some kind of FBW, and the tail surface changes would depend heaverily on any wing changes, since the engines are about the same thrust family as the current NG’s CFM-56-7B engines. Boeing has already redesigned the very tail of the airplane, aft of the rudder and elevators. They did that with something in mind, not just a simple reduction in drag (they could have done that at anytime in recent years). Boeing seems to be playing coy on most of the B-737MAX configueration, only talking about the obvious, and a few public announced wind tunnel tests here and there. As far as I know the upcoming high speed wind tunnel and low speed wind tunnel testing to be done in England and the US in a few months is the third round of both types of testing. That is a lot of testing for a design that is still a few years from being frozen. I am sure Boeing is also doing a lot of computer testing to refine the configueration before the wind tunnel tests are accomplished.

      The NSA will eventually come. But every new change Boeing puts into the MAX to compete, or beat the NEO just pushes the NSA further into the future. I know Airbus isn’t sitting on their hands either. It has been a long time now since Airbus claimed the NEO developement only costs one billion Euros, and the engine OEMs are paying for it. Just like Boeing, Airbus doesn’t want to come out with the second best product.

      • KC, when you look at the to-do-list for respectively the neo and the MAX, it’s not really that much of a surprise is it, that when compared to the R&D costs for the MAX, the costs for the neo R&D comes in at a bargain.

      • “Boeing seems to be playing coy on most of the B-737MAX configuration”

        Some might interpret that as not knowing what to do, rather than playing coy.

  5. Now everything is about engines. Why these two manufacturers want to have efficient aircraft based only on other companies’ engines? Because they can save in development and keep their 50 years-old airframe (Boeing 737) or 30 years-old airframe (Airbus). What we need is competition! A new design incorporating decades of improvements, How wise are the words of Uvdar-Hazi: “Old lady, new dress”.
    When I published the article I mentioned on a previous comment, one pilot contacted me and, between other things (he is a B737 pilot), told me of a lamp, somewhere in the cockpit that was from the B-17 and not always works. Not to mention noise in the cabin. As I am not a pilot, I do not Know if it was just a way of saying “old”, or a fact.

  6. If the engines share the same LEAP core technology the fan is the difference. Rule of thumb says a .5 % gain for every inch fan diameter. So if the NEO has a 12-14% sfc improvement, the engine for the MAX should deliver 5% less. If the GTF adds a few % extra for the NEO, Boeing has an issue. To be consistently denied until a solution is in place.

    Leahy commented on the MAX last december.

    • keesje, the -1B core will be different from the -1A and -1C core. But all three will be about the same technology level (the -1B core may be slightly advanced sin ce it is the latest version of the LEAP engine). CFMI has said NOTHING as to which version of the LEAP engines will have the lowest FSFC. The LEAP, and GTF are of such a next generation of engine, I’m not convinced the old rule of thumb applies anymore.

      Boeing is under no oblagation to keep you updated on the developement of any of its products, just as EADS is under no obligation to keep me informed of their products (but I wish John would stoip calling asking me for advice, LOL).

      Speaking of John, he is a salesman, you know that keesje. It is his job to push Airbus and talk down Boeing. Like all salesman, he lives by only one golden rule, “if you cannot dazzle ’em with brillance, then baffle ’em with b^#$%!t”.

      • It is true that the -1B core will be different from the -1A (and -1C) core. It will be smaller since the thrust requirements are a litte lower on the MAX.

        The technology level is about the same as you note, and the -1B is later so it will likely benefit from some findings during the -1A development.

        Now, I would like to point out three things:

        1. Any development on the -1B core can be ported back to the -1A core (not saying that Beoing will, just that they can). If they sell slow on the NEO they would need to to protect the sales there and might be forced to trim the -1A (unless of course they decide to sell cheap and save the tech for the MAX, which could be costly on the NEO)

        2. Any technology that CFM puts on the LEAP can be added by PW to the PW1100 (GTF). This is in theory of course as all three companies have different IP that the other have no access to. But the principle applies. PW might for example choose a material that is not GE prop. to achieve a higher HPT inlet temp. The PW1100 is relatively conservative on the temperatures for example and thus has hidden reserves (e.g. increase HPT inlet temp) if needed. The LEAP has no or few such reserves.

        3. Engine cores are extremely expensive to develop and one tries the very best one can to keep the cores one has as long as possible. Sometimes small mods are made, such as adding or subtracting a stage in the HPC (e.g. GE90) or changing airfoils, but that is about it. That CFM (in effect GE) now makes a completely new core (size) that is still very similar in size to the one they have (-1A) for the -1B tells me they have difficulties in making ends meet. Otherwise they would not spend almost twice on the extremely extensive engineering and tooling.

      • We remember John Leahy stating late 2010 Boeing would change its mind, postpone the NSA and re-engine the 737 after some of its major customers tell them to better re-engine.
        I still remember the howling, laughing and dismissals. What a b^#$%!t

        Some time ago respected analysts argued the 737NG would still be very competitive against the A320 NEO. Boeing says so.

        Reading through the comments and seeing where we stand now, I guess some time to rethink instead of again blindly building on to what Boeing states.

        And no “we can’t know’ if the numbers look unfavorable.
        Yes we can.

  7. Maybe Boeing will put PW1524G on the 737-6 MAX with a cropped fan at 68,5 inch diameter.

    I was kidding, of course.

  8. If we define “team” as two people, and “study” as billed at least one hour to in the calendar year, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Boeing is studying a DC-3/C-47NEO, restarting the SST project, running off a few hundred more Stearman Model 75s for the collector market, etc. Doesn’t mean they will ever do any of those things, doesn’t mean they won’t. But a rumored study isn’t evidence of anything one way or another.


  9. Gentlemen, almost all of you are NOT facing up to the simple reality, that all
    Airbus had to do to get the NEO project going, was to offer either one of the
    two new engines and hang them on any one of the three A320 models and put
    a price on the A320-NEO! No structural changes required at all!
    Boeing cannot do that! Why, because the 737 is too close to the ground, while
    the A320 has a much taller m. l. gear, because the heavier A320 had to have
    the higher-thrust CFM engine with the larger fan installed, from the start!
    To match the cost, performance and weight advantages of the NEO, over the
    basic A320, Boeing cannot afford to do anything like that to the 737 and is,
    therefor, in a terrible bind!
    This because the only option Boeing has, is to put as much pressure as pos-
    sible on SNECMA, to provide the fuel-efficiency on an engine, for which Boeing
    has determined the fan-diameter, without doing anything to basic aircraft struct-
    ures, in order to match or better the fuel-efficiency of the A320NEO!
    If it was that easy, I think SNECMA would have done that a long time ago!

    • Although I don’t think the situation is as dire as you seem to see it Rudy, you have pretty well hit the nail on the head with those last two lines!

    • With regard to Boeing developing a NSA (new single aisle) aircraft instead of doing the MAX, IMO they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If Boeing would go for the NSA in the near term, it would in all likelihood produce a short-lived platform that will only better the neo by around 5 percent in the efficiency department; all the while risk being leapfrogged by an Airbus new narrowbody family a decade hence. Having decided to do the MAX now, and not a NSA, Boeing risks losing significant single aisle market share to Airbus. IMO, the Max will sell, but not in enough quantities to maintain single aisle parity with Airbus. I would expect the neo to grab more than 60 percent of the market, which of course includes the other single aisle contestants as well.

      Thus the Airbus decision to re-engine the A32X series came at the worst possible time for Boeing. When Boeing launched the 737NG in 1993 while deciding to cater to the wishes of Southwest Airlines by retaining the 737’s low-hung wing and fuselage, they then made their bed and now has to lie in it. This just goes to show how short-term thinking and decision-making influences the long-term consequences for an industry OEM.

      • So, you think Boeing will ony keep about 25%-30% of the NB market? You think Airbus will get 60% of the NB market, giving 10%-15% to BBD and others?

        The sales and committments for the MAX vs. the NEO don’t support your projection. What happens to your prediction if Boeing decides they also want the GTF as an option for the MAX?

      • Yes, Neo 60 percent, MAX 30 percent and the “rest” 10 percent.
        A hypothetical GTF on the MAX would, among other things, still be majorly constrained fan sizewise.

      • I think Airbus has more then 2000 orders and commitments for the NEO.

        When we look at confirmed orders only, like pre MAX, 30% is about right. The SW, AA, Norwegian and Lion orders and commitments each have their specifics.

        United, Lufthansa or Ryanair ordering 200 737 MAX for a 20% discount. That’s what the industry is waiting for.

        Airlines are sitting on the fence, waiting for a MAX that is at least as good as a NEO. Listening to their own specialists only.

  10. It seems more and more apparent, that the Boeing/GE Dream Relationship is slowly coming to a sad, bitter end.

    First Boeing opens the door to all comers for the new incarnation of the 777 (perhaps even the 787-10, if it were to happen) and now they are saying the 737 does not neccessarily need to remain a pure GE domain either.

    Bair seems to keep coming out with controversial comments and statements. Either they are going to reign him in soon or it will become obvious that he is being sent out to do this on purpose.

    I wonder if, and/or when and how GE might bite back.

    • Would not surprise me in the least that it is done very deliberately to put pressure on GE/Snecma (CFM). Problem is: it is the fan diameter constraint that is the issue and that is not CFM’s to do anything about…

    • It’s been happening for a while.

      GE needs a new engine above the GENX to offer for the 777, 787-10 but wouldn’t mind talking to Airbus about the A350 and A380.

      GE/CFM were comfortable with the CFM56 the leading NB engine. They became even more comfortable when Pratt and RR started fighting each other.

      A watershed moment IMO was when Airbus publicly gave the GTF their approval after testing it on a A346. (Airbus was mad around 2000 when the GTF didn’t work afterall).

      Boeing letting others in also provides opportunities. GE could e.g offer a GENX for the A330 family, an engine family for the A350, abandon Pratt (GP7000) with a nice carbon fanned GE9X for the A380, proposing their new Passport as a second engine for the CSeries.. IMO they have to move on. Those exclusivity agreements distorted the market for too long.

  11. keesje :
    I think Airbus has more then 2000 orders and commitments for the NEO.
    When we look at confirmed orders only, like pre MAX, 30% is about right. The SW, AA, Norwegian and Lion orders and commitments each have their specifics.
    United, Lufthansa or Ryanair ordering 200 737 MAX for a 20% discount. That’s what the industry is waiting for.
    Airlines are sitting on the fence, waiting for a MAX that is at least as good as a NEO. Listening to their own specialists only.

    Last I saw Airbus had about 1420 orders and committments for the NEO, so where did the number 2000 + orders/committments come from? Boeing has about 1050 orders/committments, or about 43% of the NEO/MAX orderbook. As far as LH, UA, FR, DL, and others who are sitting on big orders goes, my guess is Airbus and Boeing are each spending a lot of air miles going to meet with them.

    LH already has an A-320NEO order for 25 and an A-321NEO order for about 15, plus with their A-32X Classic fleet (182 in service and on order at last count), I doubt they will be a B-737MAX customer anytime soon. Then again everyone thought that of LH when the placed their order for 10 A-380, then were surprised they ordered 20, plus 20 options for the B-747-8I. So, I could ber wrong about any possible MAX order from LH.

    I think the chances are higher of DL and UA ordering big numbers of B-737MAXs. DL has a lot of old MD-88s, A-319s, and A-320s to replace. They already placed an order for 100 B-737-900ERs to begin replacing older B-757-200s. UA’s A-319s, A-320s, and B-757-200s are also getting old and will need replacement before the end of this decade. AF and BA will also be looking for new build NBs before the end of this decade. As will NH, JL, KE, and QF. Obviously, Airbus will score some of these airline orders, and Boeing will get others.

    Then there is the Chinese and Indian airlines who will need NBs for replacement and growth. The EU’s ETS isn’t helping secure those orders for Airbus. China has already slowed down about $14B in Airbus airplane orders to Chinese airlines.

    • “Last I saw Airbus had about 1420 orders and committments for the NEO, so where did the number 2000 + orders/committments come from? Boeing has about 1050 orders/committments, or about 43% of the NEO/MAX orderbook. As far as LH, UA, FR, DL, and others who are sitting on big orders goes, my guess is Airbus and Boeing are each spending a lot of air miles going to meet with them.”

      “commitments” means nothing. Nobody used this before the 737MAX. As far as I am concerned it is invented by Randy’s team to cover up the fact Airlines are refusing to sign up. Its more like LOI’s. But everyone knowing how free LOIs are, ” orders and commitments” were introduced. If you can’t convince them, confuse them. And it worked. Reuters reported Boeing has 1000 orders for the MAX. Airbus’ 1420 aren’t commitments, but signed contracts. Airbus doesn’t even mention ” commitments” but they sure have LOIs, Options in the pipeline. E.g 625 from AA.

  12. I think the bigger story is if the geared turbofan architecture is 3-5% better, is the non geared turbofan drive obsolete? How will GE respond? What if a GTF gains the advantage on the 777x, will Airbus have to offer a GTF on the A350 to be competitive?

  13. No KC, I’m not smoking anything.

    Boeing had some 80 percent total market share in the LCA business as recently as 1995. Times change. Some people seems to make the mistake in assuming that the duopoly and a 50 percent shared market between the two OEM’s will continue indefinitely. An inferior MAX will almost certainly bring upheaval to the current single aisle market split.

    Very few potential customers, it seems, are praising the MAX. Most, if not all of the possible MAX players are showing some sort of discontent with the MAX, and it looks as if these seemingly disgruntledcurrent NG customers have mostly centred their objections around the fact that the low-hunged wing on the 737 just does not have the ability to cater for the needed engine size to compete with the neo.

    Airbus has already captured long-time Boeing single aisle customers (AA and DY). If current NG customers are not at all happy with the situation, why should current A32X customers bother considering whether or not to purchase the MAX? To retain 50 percent single aisle market share Boeing will need to capture current A32X customers since Airbus seems to be on a roll capturing new single aisle customers which are currently only flying 737s.

    • I agree with most of what you say. I am just not willing to throw in the towel that the MAX is an inferior airplane to the NEO.

  14. I’m still optimistic that a 68″ fan is the right size for a 150K MTOW aircraft. For a 200K MTOW aircraft, I could see that the optimal size would be a 1/3 bigger. A 1/3 more area comes out to 78″, so I can see how a 68″ fan would begin to lose ground.

    • TCook, while the fan size helps, it is thrust that gets any airplane off the runway. A 200K MTOW airplane would need about 40,000 lbs to 50,000 lbs of total thrust. The LEAP-1B is a 25,000 lb thrust engine, although the first version will have about 23,500 lbs. For two engines, that is more than enough thrust. Back in my KC-135A days, we had a 300,000 lb airplane taking off on 4 J-57 engines that had no fan section and was 35″ in diameter. With Water they each produced about 12,500 lbs of thrust, that is a total of 50,000 lbs of thrust for a 300,000 lb airplane.

      • At four times the sfc of todays engines?

        Propulsive efficiency is one screw you have to turn for lower sfc.
        With a smaller fan for the same thrust you are simply screwed 😉

        • But have you forgotten, Uwe? The B-737MAX needs less thrust than the A-320NEO.

  15. Fellows, once again, unless SNECMA can come up with acceptable fuel-burn
    guarantees for the CFM engine with the Boeing mandated fan-diameter,

    Anything else Boeing would try to do with the 737, will be too expansive and
    will make the 737MAX less competitive with the A230NEO!

    • Rudy, if that is what is on the table, then what is the status of the MAX contracts signed sofar? Agreements pending final approval after fuel burn guarantees? Did CfM provide those for the A320 LEAP engines? Or is it the same situation?

  16. If what Rudy says is true, then surely there will be no 737MAX?
    A GTF version maybe but how much later?

  17. Keesje,
    None of the 737MAX “contracts” are signed for, they are “firm commitments,”
    pending performance guarantees from Boeing and CFMI. Yes those guarantees
    were provided by CFMI on the A320NEO, because they apply to the standard
    engine and NOT for the engine with the Boeing-mandated reduced-fan
    diameter, with which CFMI is still struggling to come up with fuel-burn guarant-
    Yes, that unfortunately is my conclusion and I hope that I am wrong, but unless
    CFMI comes up with the above-mentioned fuel-burn guarantees on reduced-
    size fan engine, the 737MAX will NOT become a reality!
    Doing anything else with the 737 and compete with the A320NEO, will be too
    costly and NOT competable with the A320NEO, where all they did, was hang
    the standard engine(s) on the wing of the A320, without having to worry about
    ground-clearance or any major structural changes to the A320!
    The GTF people, are I believe, not seriously looking at a reduced-fan version
    of the GTF engine for the A320, because 1. it is more complicated to do on
    that engine and 2. they are on a winning streak with the engine on the A320
    and, therefore, do not have the same urgency CFMI has with their engine!

  18. OV-099 :
    The Airbus decision to re-engine the A32X series came at the worst possible time for Boeing.

    Yes it was, and still is, the worst possible time for Boeing.

    They have had to go through difficult periods before in their long, and mostly glorious, history. But this time it’s different. They have to take several major decisions while trying to manage the 787 woes and deal with the 748 bleak prospects. If Boeing cannot deliver on their promises it is still possible that the MAX would be scrapped in favour of the NSA.

    But it is still too early to say and we could be surprised once more. In the past Boeing has often demonstrated a high level of creativity in terms of engineering. If they don’t succeed this time around it will be because of the physical limitations of the existing 737 platform, not for a lack of ingenuity.

    In parallel with the MAX they have to decide what to do with the 777X. Both the 737 and 777 are highly successful programs. But they are also threatened by mounting competition. Therefore they have an urgent need to be modernized, or replaced, almost simultaneously. Boeing could not afford to do the NSA and 777X in the same timeframe though.

    This is a major source of distraction for Management and they must have a hard time to concentrate their mind on pressing difficulties in other areas of the company. Until recently all their energies were drained by the problems with the 787 and 748. Today they must spend a few sleepless nights pondering over the MAX:

    What if the LEAP-1B does not meet the requirements in terms of fuel burn. What if the MAX is overweight. What if we were to offer the GTF as an option. What if the CSeries makes its first flight by the end of the year. What if the world economy slows down. What if the military orders dry out. What if we postpone the 777X and do the NSA instead.

  19. Rudy, thnx for explaining. I hope you are not right on this. I think in hindsight the 787 drama is to blame for the current 737 situation. The 737 engine limitations didn’t pop up yesterday. PW / Airbus have been looking on a A320 fit for more then a decade. The advantages of a bigger fan aren’t a surprise either. Probably Boeing was so occupied by the 787 and 748, downplaying an emerging situation in the NB segment became an easy short term way out.

    What strikes me personally is the stiff denial of issues with the 787, 747-8i, 777-200ER, 737 all along. On the internet they are simply denied, and Boeing PR just says the opposite of what is written on the wall. And seems to believe itself.

    Two yrs ago I myself sounded the alarm bell for the 737 (and it wasn’t the first time) saying the NG will be bypassed within 5 yrs.

    Everybody says it can’t be truth, I’m biased. 2 days later even Randy himself responds by stating the 737NG is just perfect. And he actually believes it.

    The rest is history. I think during the last few yrs this blunt, irrational denial has caused enormous damage to the Boeing company. It seems listening to the market / their customers, they only pick out what they want to hear. It must be stopped. This is fooling yourself.

    • Just another blog full of opinions? Select articals to draw out of context quotes from is what we all do, Mr. Bogash is no different.

  20. KC135TopBoom :

    I am confident Boeing will meet, or exceed its goal for the MAX in comparison to the NG. Just look at the happily unexpected performance of the B-747-8F airframe if you like.

    Yes the 747 is not as bad as first feared although still missing spec. Everybody is super happy.

    • No sir, it is the GEnx-2B67 engines that missed specs. The B-747-8 airframe has made up for most of the shortfall of the engines. There iis a GE PIP scheduled for next year, I beleive, to address the engines. Operators of the B-747-8F are very happy with the airplane’s performance so far. The performance is so good Boeing increased the MTOW to 987,000 lbs.

  21. KC135TopBoom :

    keesje :
    I think Airbus has more then 2000 orders and commitments for the NEO.
    When we look at confirmed orders only, like pre MAX, 30% is about right. The SW, AA, Norwegian and Lion orders and commitments each have their specifics.
    United, Lufthansa or Ryanair ordering 200 737 MAX for a 20% discount. That’s what the industry is waiting for.
    Airlines are sitting on the fence, waiting for a MAX that is at least as good as a NEO. Listening to their own specialists only.

    Last I saw Airbus had about 1420 orders and committments for the NEO, so where did the number 2000 + orders/committments come from?

    Referring you to the earlier linked article:
    “Since its launch in late 2010, the NEO has amassed more than 2,400 firm orders, options and commitments, while the MAX—which only officially hit the market in mid-2011—has accumulated orders, options and commitments for around 1,040. In terms of firm orders alone, the NEO is far ahead, with 74% of the announced business.”

    While staying on the article this comment caught my eye:
    “It’s remarkable how different physics are in Europe versus the U.S.,” says Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) Vice President Mike Bair

    Hmm this is the same Boeing that literally just before launching the max claimed that NG is than neo by 2%. Yep, the physics is certainly different.

    ” Boeing claims the 737-800 is 8% more efficient today than the A320 and it will be 2% more efficient than the A320neo.”

  22. Boeing cannot afford doing the NSA right now, as the 787 is draining money and resources big time and 737 production needs to be maintained at full throttle to keep the balance sheet intact. 500 737s per year are the equivalent of about 4-5bn in profits,
    Boeing cannot afford doing the NSA for EIS 2020/21 either, because in the meantime the NEO would become a runaway sales success. See above.
    Unfortunately, the 737 doesn’t lend itself so well to re-engining. The two major constraints are the limited design space (literally) and the risk of losing grandfather certification rights. Maintaining the latter is a sine qua non and so far as a program risk largely underestimated by the analyst community
    Boeing is caught between a rock and a hard place.

    • Josh, I agree with every point you make. That’s why I said, along with OV, that the neo came at the worst possible time for Boeing. And Airbus knew it. They only needed a little push from Bombardier to go ahead. Now they have Boeing on the ropes.

      Boeing should have launched the NSA not too long after Bombardier launched the CSeries. Between 2008 and 2010. The 787 and 748 were supposed to have been in service by that time. It would have been appropriate then to reassign the engineering force to work on the New Small Airplane. And I am convinced that is what Boeing intended to do, had they not been caught up in the Dreamliner fiasco.

      To do the NSA right away would have put them one step ahead of Airbus. They would also have been in a position to offer the GTF as an option. Success in business has a lot to do with timing. I don’t think it’s too late, but it does come at the worst possible time for Boeing. That also means it’s the best possible time for Airbus and Bombardier.

      I would go as far as saying that the future of Boeing is at stake here. You are right to point out that Boeing cannot afford to start the NSA right away because by the EIS timeframe the neo would have become a runaway success. But the problem is that the neo is already a runaway success and the MAX is still undefined and uncertain.

      Even if Boeing succeeds in making the MAX competitive it will be for a relatively brief period. At best the MAX will start with a few percent shortfall (2-3%) with the neo. And the the gap will start to widen because of the GTF development potential. Even the LEAP-1A will have more margin than the 1B. So a few years down the road they will have fallen behind, and will be left with no other alternative but to do the NSA.

      Boeing, your damned if you do the NSA and your damned if you don’t.

      • “To do the NSA right away would have put them one step ahead of Airbus. ”
        IMHO not.
        Airbus assertion was that a new NB design would not currently provide significant gains over reengining the current generation ( A320 ). There certainly are promising
        design concepts but required materials lack maturity ( real CFRP-matched construction) or direction ( LBPfan or OR ).

        Boeing produced a lot of hot air for some time but effectively concurred.

        Boeings problem is that their platform is a heavily pimped last generation product. Historically they should have avoided succumbing to those backwards oriented customer demands
        and done the NG “from new”. Wouldn’t have cost much more than the NG but would have provided a more flexible platform.
        ( But they would have had to compete with Airbus on a level field then )

        Aren’t the airlines that earlier demanded “minimum change upgrades” the same that do Chapter11 and Merger hopping in recent years?

  23. KC135TopBoom :
    But have you forgotten, Uwe? The B-737MAX needs less thrust than the A-320NEO.

    Weight differences are negligible for the NG/OEO combo and have a good chance to get reversed for the MAX/NEO match up.
    Additionally, max thrust differences are similarly negligible ( except the A321 which is larger than its counterpart anyway).
    Lastly installed thrust reflects take off performance ( as mandated by _historically differing_ certification requirements and doesn’t reflect cruise thrust requirements)
    -600 101kN -700 117kN -800 121kN -900 ?121kN?
    A318 106kN A319 120kN A320 120kN A321 147kN

    low single percent differences in thrust don’t match up with a 20% difference in fan diameter.

  24. From a more distant perspective, ignoring some business realities, I could still see Boeing negotiating a deal with Embraer on a optimized lean up, 5 abreat to 150 seat single class, up to 1500-2000NM range aircraft, while at the same time looking a bigger 7 abreast NSA spanning 150-250 seats, up to 4000NM. Possibly partnering with the Japanese / Chinese. The 737 MAX route is probably a no return road. A more radical upgrade should have been launched yrs ago..

  25. I suggested a while ago to a deafening silence that Boeing put a crank in the wing a’la’ the F8U Corsair. They did it to allow the propeller to have sufficient ground clearance, which is exactly what we are currently discussing.
    There is enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that LeapX B may have issues, so perhaps time to think laterally.
    A small plug between the existing wing box and the rest of the wing (slightly cropped to maintain existing wing span?) could allow the use of the existing MLG, and offer valuable clearance for a fully optimized fan.
    A good exercise for Keesge and his artistic mate!

  26. Uwe :
    Airbus assertion was that a new NB design would not currently provide significant gains over reengining the current generation.

    A new NB would allow Boeing to stay competitive with the neo for a much longer period of time. And it would probably be a runaway success if done right.

    I must admit though that it represents a huge investment for a relatively small gain. But my understanding of the situation is that Boeing does not have much choice. The alternative being to fall behind. If things stay the way they are right now Airbus will control more than sixty percent of the segment, Boeing thirty and Bombardier 10. That is a trend that I, and many others, can see today.

    Further down the road we don’t know. But what I anticipate, and which feeds my apprehension, is that sans NSA that road is a dead end for Boeing.

    • Seefahrt tut not.
      A new NB is necessary. But Boeing would be loaded with full programm costs were Airbus invests a billion or two for essentially the same product lifetime.
      Both airframers will have to do an N²B when new production methods reach maturity and
      the decission horizont for engine developement has been reached.
      This is a hobson’s choice thing. Fortuna has no tresses to grip at the back 😉

  27. Do not agree with your market share (if you did not read, look at Russia and China will have also NB and will have at least local sales – and are promissing good prices. As aircraft price is part of the equation of operating costs, even burnning more they may be a good economic option. Consirering that China is one of the big markets for NB, they may sell more than the CSeries.

    • You have a point. And if we bring them into the equation it becomes one more thing for Boeing to worry about. And I am sure they have given it a thought.

      We should probably see them coming just like Boeing should have seen Airbus coming in the seventies. But one thing is certain, it’s going to be a lot more complicated in the future with contenders coming from Canada, Brazil, China, Russia and possibly Japan and India.

      What we do know today is that the long neglected Airbus has given Boeing a run for it’s money. And eventually they passed them. But if Boeing doesn’t want to fall too far behind it will have to come up with something better than the MAX.

      • With fuel cost heading for 50% and the airframe going for less than 10% all cost, every percent in fuel economy shortfall needs to be compensated by 5% reduction in airframe cost.

  28. Agree with you. When I wrotte the article, that Boeing had not decided for the MAX, I was quite sure that they would have a clean sheet product, before Airbus would start pilling up orders for the Neo.

  29. All analyst and reporters are holding their breath, not reporting what they see. Let someone else tell whats written on the wall / be gunned down if the stock moves.

    Being positive makes more friends / invitations / advertisers.

    Where Jon Ostrower when you need him..

    • Jon is in Chicago now. Closer than ever to the action. Or inaction, depending on how you gauge the situation.

      • I know

        I hope he won’t be embedded too much with Wall Street and Boeing. Wall Street wants to be excited by Boeing. Boeing no doubt will pamper him with interviews, visits, breaking news etc. Bringing the bad news makes nobody happy. Not WSJ, its readers, advertisers, nor Boeing, its employees, stakeholders, stockholders. Exactly what we are witnessing at this moment. Everybody sees but keeps quiet.

  30. Rudy is correct.
    The MAX is in a very tight box, constrained by cost (can’t be more than about $4 – 5 MUSD more than the actual selling price (not list) of equivalent NG variant), performance (must be roughly comparable to the NEO, close enough that B can buy their way into the market with discounts if necessary, like AI has done on numerous occasions) and delivery (have to deliver in same general time frame as NEO, 2016 – 2017, or face market share loss and an even shorter production run than the present difficult situation).
    This rules out a new wing, even if that were a sensible way to go, which it is not. Takes too long, costs too much. And as mentioned earlier, present composite construction does not scale down well. The wing design becomes predicated by other factors such as hail damage resistance long before by aero loads – so it is heavier than it needs to be to fly. Add Kevlar and you add weight and reduce strength and wind up in the same spot.
    Boeing probably looked at a complex double extending main gear and quite properly concluded it was too complicated, reliability would be a critical issue, it cost too much and would take too long.
    So, no new wing, no tall gear, and no GTF.
    Why take on more technical risk, weight and cost if you can’t put a bigger fan on the GTF that you plan to on the LEAP.
    As for the NSA, the engines aren’t there to support an all new design. We need twice the gain in fuel efficiency that we will get in the present LEAP and GTF, while maintaining the reliability and time-on-wing of the present engines. A very tall order.The best available suitable engine designs the airplane, as we see with the NEO and MAX.
    Even these derivative aircraft have substantial risk. The LEAP is said to resemble the GenX more than the CFM predecessors, and we already have two PIP’s scheduled for the GenX with more to come.
    And the GTF is an unknown, supported only by pre-production testing on smaller, less powerful engines. And built by the same folks who gave us the PW4000.
    Both these engines are essentially first generation.
    For AI or Boeing to try to launch a NSA with some paper design 2d gen GTF or LEAP would have been sheer madness.
    The NEO amd MAX are derivative aircraft; always have been, always will be. They will have short production runs. They will not be as profitable for the mfgrs as earlier narrow-bodys were.
    Their job is to maintain market share in a very competitve market, to give the operators what fuel cost relief they can, and to provide the vital in-service experience on which to build better second generation engines to power the NSA.
    Once AI committed to the NEO Boeing had no choice but to build the MAX.
    In the long run we will all benefit from these two decisions.

    • I think we might be experiencing an unforseen situation. The NSA seemed unfeasible. For the MAX the technical risk is avoided, new engines are introduced, budgets for launching discounts have been allocated, a marketing sales campaign has been launched, State tax incentives scored, EIS shortly after the NEO has been secured. The LEAP fan has been optimized for the 737, a sweatspot for this LEAP configuration. Major Launch commitments from SW and a few low airlines are secured in a successfull joint effort with the government. And now the airlines balk, ignoring Boeing efficiency claims, demanding fuel burn guarantees.

  31. Fred Bearden :
    For AI or Boeing to try to launch a NSA with some paper design 2d gen GTF or LEAP would have been sheer madness.

    For Airbus it would certainly have been sheer madness to launch a new clean sheet design. But for Boeing it’s different.

    The 737 has restrictions that the A320 does not have to deal with. I have no doubt that these restrictions will be addressed appropriately by the MAX engineering team. But it will only allow the 737 to remain competitive for a relatively short period of time. Simply because the engines that are offered with the neo have better growth potential. In that area the new 737 will soon have MAXed out.

    On the other hand the old 737 has a grand-father clause that protects its weight advantage. Not to mention a narrower fuselage. But more advance material would compensate for that in a new design. The new NB would have to be bigger though, with the same cross-section as the A320. But it would also be optimized to be offered in a 200 + passenger configuration. And that “Super Narrow Body” is what would kill the neo business case. Or at least make a serious dent in it.

    The SNB would of course be very expensive to make. And it would also take longer than for the MAX. But it would cost Boeing a lot more not to do it. It would cost them a very substantial part of the narrow body market.

  32. Uwe :
    A new NB is necessary. But Boeing would be loaded with full programm costs were Airbus invests a billion or two for essentially the same product lifetime.

    Yes, that is so true. And it is a tragedy. Because they have no choice. If Boeing does not do the Super Narrow Body they will be doomed. And if they do it they will ruined themselves.

    The SNB would give Boeing a new life. It would keep them alive and healthy for a long time. But broke. 🙁

    • I appreciate your points but you didn’t address the primary reason AI and B can’t build a NSA. They don’t have the engine, and the engine designs the aircraft.
      The current LEAP and GTF aren’t good enough and won’t be without considrable in-service experience and major further development – if then.
      There is a serious possibility the LEAP doesn’t have enough future growth left, which also would be a big problem for B, who would have no hands-on exeprience with the GTF.
      Neither airframer can afford the huge nonrecurring investment in a NSA for the small improvement we are seeing (so far) with the LEAP and GTF.
      Also there are other design criteria that are not settled yet.
      Who knows what the price of jet fuel will be?
      Remember the Concorde?
      It was designed for 11 cents a gallon fuel, and it was obsolete long before it was delivered – by fuel cost.
      What environmental restrictions will apply?
      Those will influence the size of the aircraft, the engine type and the planform.
      The derivative aircraft are exactly the vehicles we need for the dust to settle and better engines to emerge; they don’t doom anybody and B won’t be broke.
      And in time (2025 – 2030?) AI and B will each produce NSA’s that will be competitive.
      …and if Im wrong, I won’t be around to have to acknowledge it.

      • You are right Fred, I have not addressed the primary reason why Boeing will not do the NSA. The primary reason is that they have run out of cash.

        If the Dreamliner had been the successful program it was supposed to be, I am absolutely convinced that Boeing would have committed to the NSA shortly after delivery of the first 787. And that would have been the only sensible thing to do under normal circumstances. But I am afraid there is nothing normal with Boeing anymore.

        But your point is about the engines. And you have a valid argument there. What everyone is expecting, and which has so far failed to materialize, is a super-economical, super-clean and super-quiet engine. It simply does not exist and wont for sometime.

        But we have the GTF. You say, with a high degree of contempt, that it has been designed by the same people who have given us the PW4000. Well, maybe the same company, but there is a new generation there that has developed the most innovative design since the introduction of the turbofan.

        The irony here is that the most successful Boeing models of the past, the ones that have given Boeing its reputation, I am talking about the 707, 727, 737 and 747, were all powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. Now it’s the lack of a P&W engine that will compromise the MAX, and Boeing’s future.

    • And if the 777x is any guide at the trend toward gaining efficiency with greater wingspan with lighter lower thrust engines, the new airplane will have a span greater than 118′ code 3. And it will be too big to make a 150 seat derivative. That is why MAX is a great solution. It gives Boeing a bridge with the 8 and 9 models until a new airplane, and gives them a great platform for a long term offering at 150 seats.

  33. Normand Hamel :
    You are right Fred, I have not addressed the primary reason why Boeing will not do the NSA. The primary reason is that they have run out of cash.

    But Boeing is posting purrfect Quarterly Results each quarter, every quarter.

    They must be awash in cash ( at least TB would tell us so 😉

    IMHO they have learned to get professional help. MTU has rising influence.

  34. keesje :
    I hope he won’t be embedded too much with Wall Street and Boeing.

    Yeah, I hope he will not be too inbeded, I mean embedded, with those guys. But it will be “hard” for him because the bedroom, I mean the boardroom, is just across the street. 🙂

    No, seriously, I like Jon very much and I admire his professionalism. But at times he might find himself stuck between a rock (Wall Street) and a hard place (Boeing). 🙁

  35. Scott should really filter the comments to not more than three posts per article from the same poster. It reads like a symphony of the same and the same again every other post. How can you have respect for posters when they don’t say much but the same thing in every post? I think posters with interesting things to say go somewhere else to post. Sad really. Wish it wasn’t this way and more like it was some time ago on this column.

    • John,
      I’ll second that opinion. Even though Scott Hamilton has stated on numerous occasions that he doesn’t have te resources to scrutinize all comments, and I believe him, the quality of the comments in this blog has gradually deteriorated. The frequency of comments by only a couple of individuals has indeed caused previous posters to go elsewhere!

  36. AVC, John and others, I disagree, because as Fred Bearden also points out
    Boeing is in a very serious bind since August ’11, when they committed to
    offer the 737MAX and have the Spec. ready by Oct.-Nov., to be able to sign,
    firm contracts!
    Here we are at the end of April and still NO sign of any kind from Boeing, that
    they are able to present a detailed 737MAX Spec., because they are still trying
    to get CFMI to provide them with fuel-burn guarantees, for the reduced-fan-
    sized engine, so that it will fit underneath the 737MAX wing, without any other
    modifications to the 737 wing/landing gear, just like Airbus was able to do on
    the A320!
    That is a major open and possibly an insolvable question, which will have a
    significant consequences for the financial share Boeing will have of the medium-
    range aircraft market for the next decade,should Boeing have to admit in the
    (near) future, that they will have to abandon the whole 737MAX idea!

  37. Not too much off topic, but the original 731 and 732 were of course all exclusive Pratt JTD power and then it all seemed to go wrong with Snecma snaring the 733 and all subsequent versions of 737.

    I guess this was during the Rudy era, and perhaps he could enlighten us as to how or why Pratt missed out on the later models.

    My observation rightly or wrongly is that Pratt may not have been given any serious consideration on MAX? Apart from the Boeing CEO being very pro GE, is there any reason for Boeing to be particularly lacking in enthusiasm for PW civil products?

    If any company had a right to be seriously peeved with Pratt it would have had to have been Airbus after the A340 and A318 fiasco’s, but all appears to have been forgiven.

    • You have a very interesting question here Andrew. I hope Rudy will be able to recall his experience for us. I would love to hear more about this story because it is a major turning point in the history of commercial aviation.

      I don’t know much about it but my general impression is that what we have here is a classic case of a very successful company resting on its laurels. At the time Pratt & Whitney owned the market for this class of engines. The JT-8D was powering many different types of aircraft from different manufacturers. Not only Boeing, but Douglas also, and even Dassault with the Mercure.

      There was no real competition at the time. Rolls-Royce was in serious difficulty and had no money to spend on R&D. But GE saw an opportunity to compete with Pratt in this segment. That opportunity was a project from Snecma which was financed by the French government. That would considerably lower the financial risk for GE. So the two got together and formed CFMI as a 50/50 partnership. And the rest is history.

      As to the Pratt engine on the MAX, it is a problem of geometry. The GTF uses a very large fan that turns at a much slower speed than on a more conventional engine. That is partly where it derives its efficiency (and quietness). So the fan diameter cannot be reduced by much because it would negate the whole technological concept of a larger fan turning at a lower speed. This technology also allows the LP compressor to turn much faster and therefore be better optimized for efficiency.

      The problem for Boeing is that at the power required by the MAX the engine would be too big to fit underneath the 737 wing. Unless the landing gear would be raised substantially, we will probably never see the GTF on the MAX.

      You mention Boeing’s lack of enthusiasm for PW civil products. Actually it’s the other way around. If the large Pratt engines are playing a diminishing role with Boeing it is because Pratt has abandoned the segment. It is more or less a repeat of what happened in the seventies with the JT8D. But since the GTF is scalable, you can expect a return sooner or later of large PW engines on the market.

      • “That would considerably lower the financial risk for GE. So the two got together and formed CFMI as a 50/50 partnership. And the rest is history.”

        Question: Is a fount of public money reducing the risk of leveraging some new idea at the core of most sucessfull product entries?

        My (pro) examples would then be:
        707 and family : Bomber and Tanker for the US Forces
        CFM56 : French money for a SNECMA project.
        Airbus : Euro money for large twins and FBW

        any other pros or cons ?

      • I think wiki has a nice summary CFM backgrounds.

        Also lots of US DoD money in the CFM56. And a shipload politics as every US Frence

        Contrary to what most want to believe, aerospace R&D and innovation is largely financed by public money. Everywhere and on an enormous scale. We love to think / say otherwise though. 🙂

        And if you don’t accept you’re not in business.

  38. Help me understand why, if the GTF already has an announced margin over the LEAP and “everyone in the industry knows” the margin will actually be much higher, any airline is ordering their NEOs with the LEAP?

    That doesn’t seem to add up. Unless either (a) everyone isn’t convinced that the GTF will have that margin (b) flight profiles, operational requirements, etc can outweigh pure long-range fuel burn in the cost/benefit analysis. And if (b), then perhaps the automatic assumptions of doom for the MAX are a big exaggerated…


    • You have a very good point sPh. There might be a simple explanation for this situation though.

      CFMI is perfectly aware of the menace that the GTF represents. And since they want to protect their share of the market they will do everything they can not to loose it. That translates into extremely advantageous deals for the customers. Since the latter is often looking for short term benefits they can still attract/retain many of them.

      The airlines can save a great deal of money right away on the financing. Even if the fuel burn is not quite as good as the competition, the financial incentives are so great that many airlines are tempted to choose a slightly less efficient engine, provided they can guarantee an acceptable figure. This is not a sustainable business model though. Neither for the engine manufacturer nor the airlines.

      You cannot stay in business very long if you keep giving engines away in order to protect your share of the market. And the airline operators who choose a less efficient engine might regret it later on if the oil price goes up more than expected. It’s the same principle as for a credit card. You can get what you want right away, but you will have to pay the interests later on. In this case the interests are represented by the price of oil.

      As to the GTF itself, it does not have that big of an advantage over the LEAP right now. However, it has more growth potential because of its revolutionary technology. But for many it remains “unproven”. All that could change quickly though. The development of the first GTF engine, the one that goes on the CSeries, went very well. Many of the most important aspects have already been validated. And like for the CSeries itself, as soon as the engine will have entered service the sales will take another leap, so to speak.

  39. Qantas just bought LEAPs for its 78 A320 neos. Keesje suggests that the amazing reliability of the CFM 56 does not necessarily mean that the LEAP will do as well. Maybe. It would be interesting to know how well or badly the 56 did in its early years.

    • Nothing starts out perfect:
      On the other hand a lot of “pedigree” will tide over to a new type while
      too big steps will depress reliability and increase cost.
      The GE90-115 is said to have been an intensive care and thus expensive
      engine early on. The LEAP for NEO and more so the MAX will imho be born
      into a similar situation.

      Reliability differences between the CFM56 -5 and -7 variants would be interesting.

  40. Uwe :
    While GE ( and thus CFMI ) has GECAS “helping” with financing P&W lacks that lever.

    Yes Uwe I agree with you. Other than the technology there are indeed two ways for a manufacturer to compete. One being the price and the other the financing. I believe I have mentioned both in my post, but maybe not as explicitly as I should have. I will just add that depending of the specific requirements of a particular customer, the deal could involve pricing or financing. Or both.

    Because of its technological advantage P&W does not have to be as aggressive as CFMI on pricing. But on the other hand, when it comes to financing it is true that P&W does not have the same leverage CFMI has with GECAS.

    I am quite sure I had read the Ernest Arvai article when it first came out. Nevertheless, I read it again and it appears to be in total agreement with what we both say.

    Like for Boeing, CFMI will continue for sometime to ride on its prestige and reputation. In addition, when you bring into the equation the GECAS factor, United technology had no choice but to buy back the Rolls-Royce share in IAE. It was a smart move. One that will give P&W the bargaining power that it needs in order to be able to compete with the powerful CFMI/GECAS duo.

    • Purchases today seem to be dominated by financing ( incl leasing ).
      Financing has distinctly different objectives from airlines how they effect profits.

      A significant number of Airlines are caught in a diminishing capital spiral.
      Profits don’t allow buying new planes thus the leasing or financing arrangements.
      This lever and assumed high risk drives leasing rates.
      High leasing rates diminish profits and constitute higher risk than actually owning
      the planes.

      And imho this furthers a situation like the housing market where values can be pimped
      in the proper environment. ( See Scott’s note on appraisers handfed by Boeing )

      To summ it up: The recent rush of purchases ( by numbers, manufacturers and types ) probably promises more profit potential for the financing vector than for the enduser, the airlines.
      CM was imho slightly off in asserting that purchases are solely “objective fact” driven.
      For one it may not be to the airlines objective advantage and
      second financial markets are strongly hype manipulated as manifested by Dreamliner “ecology”.

  41. keesje and others
    April 18, 2012 at 2:20 am | #40 Reply | Quote
    “Rudy, thnx for explaining. I hope you are not right on this. I think in hindsight
    the 787 drama is to blame for the current 737 situation.”
    I agree, the 787/747-8 problems distracted Boeing from doing much, if any-
    thing, against the projected rapid increases in fuel prices and their effect on
    airplanes in the short-medium-range market, like the 737 and the A320 series
    of airplanes!
    Airbus being relatively “trouble free,” grabbed the opportunity and offered both
    the P&W GFT and the GE LEAP engines on the A320 airplane, without having
    to worry about ground clearance or any major structural changes of nay kind!
    Against Boeing AND Airbus expectations, hundreds of orders for the A320NEO
    started rolling in, while Boeing had embarked on an all new single-isle a/p, for
    two reasons: 1. Both 737s and A320s were selling like hotcakes and were sold
    out thru 2016/17 and 2. Boeing had good reasons to assume, that any “new”
    version of the 737 requiring a new (larger-diameter) engine, would have struct-
    ural-change costs associated with it, which would make an all new a/p, the
    better way to go!
    By the time of the PAS in July ’11 and especially by August, when the AA Board
    was ready to approve the purchase of up for 500 A320NEO’s and Airbus had
    firm-commitments for 1000+ NEO.s, top members of Boeing Management, after
    begging AA Management to give them a chance, were given an opportunity
    until Oct/Nov ’11, to come up with a specification and fuel-burn guaranties on the
    737MAX for 100 units out of the above 500, which AA would commit to, if ac-
    ceptable! So far, there has been dead silence on all sides!

    I really hope, that Boeing will be able to come up with an acceptable Spec. for
    the MAX. Not only to secure AA for 100 units, but for the MX program in general,
    which will require them to come up with a compromise, between a sufficiently
    large fan to optimize fuel efficiently and the cost of any structural changes, such
    as the announced extension of the nose-landing gear by 8 inches!

    That announcement by itself, confirms how narrow the margins are, because
    as far as I can guess, the 8 ICH taller n. gear, will produce ONE-INCH more
    ground-clearance at the engine cowls, if that!

    • I think the 8″ taller nose will level the airplane. That should produce about 4″ more at the inlet and 3″ at 5′ back on the cowl, if that is about the lowest point on the engine.

      • My understanding is that an increase of 1″ at the NLG would have the effect of raising the engine 1/4″. Therefore, the projected 8″ stretch of the NLG should give an additional 2″ clearance at the engine.

      • That is what I get for the -900. I believe since the -700ng is more angled down, the engines are an inch lower than the -900ng.

  42. One of you asked, if I had a historical view of why P&W dominated the com-
    mercial a/p business from the 50s with the 707, the 60s with the 727/737/747
    and partially with the 757 in the late 70s.
    The answer is, as pointed out by Uwe on Apr. 19, “a classic case of a very
    successful company resting on its laurels!”
    GE was primarily a military engine builder until after they won the C5 engine
    contract in the late ’60s, during which time P&W not only rested on its laurels
    but produced an extremely bad engine for the 747, which almost destroyed
    the 747 program, when almost all US 747 operators dumbed their 747s for
    DC10s and Tristars, while the overseas 747 operators curtailed all 747 pur-
    chases and only added GE powered DC10-30s until the late 70s, also for
    traffic reasons!

    Two major European carriers, Lufthansa and Air France, decided to prove
    P&W wrong, when they actually refused to do anything to improve the en-
    gines on the 747, “because you have no choice but to live with us anyway”,
    or words to that affect!
    The above two airlines, together with others, than put a lot of pressure on
    Boeing, to make the GE CF6 engine to available on the 747, which caused
    massive legal problems for Boeing with P&W, but meant the end of all P&W
    powered 747 purchases for many years, when the 747 market recovered
    in the late 70s and GE became its principle engine!

    Boeing, I strongly believe, should have learned a lesson from the above
    P&W experience, when Airbus became a serious Boeing challenger in the
    mid 80s, BUT DID NOT and the rest is history!

  43. TCook
    How can you get “about 4″ more clearance at the inlet and 3″ at 5′ back on
    the cowl” with an 8 inch n. gear extension, if the distance from the n. gear
    to the eng. inlet, is appr. 10m, or 30 ft on the 737-900?

    • If the 737 becomes horizontal the engine clearance becomes the same for all versions.

      The distance between the NLG and MLG is about 3-4 as long as between the MLG and lowest point of the engines. About 2 inch additional clearance at the engine if the LG rises 8 inch seems logical therefor.

      I think to become competitive with the NEO, Boeing must half the fan diameter gab with the GE LEAPS for the NEO’s, so equip the 737 MAX’ LEAP engines with a fan of 74-75 inch. At that point a GTF might become more feasible too.

      • Keesje, you say that the MAX would need a 74-75″ fan on the LEAP-1B. That sounds like a well gauged figure to me. Many of us, including you I believe, never thought that Boeing would get away with a 68″ fan.

        But to accommodate a 74-75″ fan the MLG would also have to be raised along with the NLG. If it is a relatively easy job to do on the NLG it is an entirely different story for the MLG.

        I see only two possibilities. One is to install a new MLG with a shortening mechanism, à la A330/A340. But I don’t know if that is feasible on the 737 and how much it would cost. The other possibility would be to redesign the centre wing box. That is even more complicated, and a lot more expensive too.

        I am sure both solutions have already been envisaged and thoroughly studied by the MAX engineering team. And Boeing must be waiting for a confirmation by CFMI on how they could guarantee the targeted SFC before they take a final decision on the course of action.

    • I was thinking the -700ng having more nose down angle would have the least engine clearance currently. Back wheels to cowl-15′, between wheels-41′, so 8″ x 15’/41’=3″.
      For the -900 8″ x 15’/56’=2″.

  44. keesje :

    fascinating, found this:

    A double-extensible nose undercarriage leg was used to enable high angle of attack carrier launches to be made. The gear could be extended in length by as much as 40 inches. This arrangement was first tested on a Navy F-4B during trials aboard the USS Forrestal. In the interest of achieving slower carrier landing approach speeds, larger wing leading edge flaps were fitted and boundary layer control was applied. The amount of anhedral on the stabilator was reduced, and slats were provided on the stabilator leading edge. 16 1/2 degree drooped ailerons were fitted, which is a fancy way of saying that with gear and flaps down, the neutral position of the ailerons automatically changes to 16 1/2 degrees downward deflection.

  45. keesje :
    So for an additional 10 inch towards a competitive 75 inch fan, the landing gear needs to be stretched by well, 30-40 inch ?
    Has been done before.

    Yeah, and the modification was carried out by the Phantom Works! 🙂

    • It would be like boarding a DC-3, which I did often as a kid in the early ’50s. Why not just eliminate the nose wheel altogether, and add a simple tail wheel.

    • Keesje, my reply below was intended to respond to your 96. If yo go to You Tube and plug in Royal navy aircraft carriers 1960s you pull up some terrific footage.

    • If we can assume that a 66″ fan can be accomodated without doing anything to the landing gear 8″ on front and main gear would probably give you room for a 76 inch fan.

      If Boeing could muster some braveness they could go for a blown wing like on the YF-14 or AN-72. ( would the VFW614 engine arrangement work here ? )

  46. Correct me if I am wrong, but my calculations reveal that the -700 MLG would need to be raised by 13″ and the -900 by 12″ in order to generate an additional 10″ clearance underneath the engines. Provided the NLG is concomitantly stretched by 8″.

    If the modification was carried out only at the MLG though, the figures would become 16″ for the -700 and 14″ for the -900. And if only carried at the NLG, the figures become 27″ for the -700 and 37″ for the -900.

    That is to satisfy keesje’s hypothetical requirement of an additional 10″ clearance underneath the engines in order to accommodate a larger fan engine in the event a 68″ LEAP would not be able to deliver an acceptable SFC.

    Personally I would opt for a clean sheet design.

    • The problem with keesje’s numbers is…they are wrong. The B-737MAX already has an 18″ clearance under the engine nacelles (with a 7″-9″ NLG extension), that is the reguirement for airplane design so the engines will clear the standard runway or taxiway stand-up edge lights. The standard light is 17″ tall (432 mm), and yes, there are extensions avalable for airports to use so the edge lights stand above the snow line, these extensions can be up to 42″ (1.09 m) tall. Very few airplanes will clear these extra tall edge lights, so there is an FAA wavier for them.

      • KC, I believe keesje was talking about an additional 10″ to the existing 737NG with the CFM-56. That is the way I understood his reasoning.

        Because if you tried to hang a 75″ fan engine underneath the NG you would be very low to the ground and would probably need that additional 10″ clearance when compared to the standard CFM56.

      • Runway lights be damned.
        We are talking about a Boeing product and not next years
        new vacuum from Hoover 😉

        Causality! My guess is that regular runway lights are limited in height to the ground clearance you need for avoiding FOD ingestion anyway.

        Though a bigger intake for the same mass of air should allow
        a slightly lower intake lip on the engine.

        • Runway/taxiway edge lights, and piled snow are the reason for the engine clearance limit. It not only effects jet engines, but propeller driven aircraft too.

  47. Gents, this will be my last input on this subject.
    For structural and associated cost reasons, no other solution and especially
    NOT the GTF, but a reduced-fan-sized LEAP eng. ONLY, together with a NG
    extension, will have to do it against the A320NEO
    If that does not do it, I am afraid Boeing will have to give up on the MAX, with
    even greater financial consequences for the Boeing Co. than they already
    have with the 787/747-8 and the upcoming need to either modify the 777, or
    build an all new one, in order to compete with the A350!

    • Rudy,

      In the event that CFMI would not be able to offer an economically viable 68″ LEAP, Boeing cannot simply drop the MAX. For it is not only a matter of “greater financial consequences”, it is also a question of survival. They would have to look at other alternatives because the NG is quickly approaching obsolescence.

      There are only three possibilities altogether:

      1- MAX Mk 1 with a 68″ fan.
      2- MAX MK 2 with a 68″ + fan and a new wing.
      3- NSA

      I would readily discard number 1 as unrealistic. At best under-performing, compared to the competition. A short term solution.

      I perceive number 2 as as an interesting solution to protect the 737 legacy. But very extensive and expensive. Would last much longer than number 1, but maybe not long enough to justify the investment.

      I much prefer number 3 because of it’s long term viability. And it would put Boeing back in the lead instead of trying to play catch up with Airbus.

      • Sorry Normand but they already did try option # 3, putting all of their weight behind it. It seemed to be quite obvious to most that this was, and remains to be, an unsatisfactory option.

        It seems to me that if option 1 is not working (a question that is far from settled, as far as I can see), they need to bite the bullet quite soon and go for the cheapest, minimal option #2 possible to get them by. The 737 family has paid for itself many times over by now. Perhpas it is time to pay the piper.

      • #2 with a new wing and wing box will solve the short landing gear problem..

  48. KC135TopBoom :
    #2 with a new wing and wing box will solve the short landing gear problem..

    That would result in a NsNSA ( as in not so new Singleaisle Aircraft )
    Would the overly extended grandfathering survive ?

  49. As linked in #53 a more radical approach might become feasible if the airlines just won’t start purchasing MAX aircraft at reasonable prices..

    Issue is you have to move landing gear hinges, changing the complete dynamics of the airframe – landing gear – wing.

    $$ Billions.. but if you have no alternative the choice becomes easier..

  50. Reply to Normand # 108. The issue for B is not whether the MAX will be as good as or better than the NEO. It is whether the MAX is sufficiently better than the NG so that NG users, and airlines which need planes earlier than A can deliver, will buy the MAX even if the NEO is slightly superior in fuel burn etc. I think this is doable. IMHO, B is still in the position they were just prior to the AA order that birthed the MAX: Do the minimum needed to keep the 737 in the game (40% of mkt+-), until the NSA in the early 2020. The only change is that Leahy’s brilliant GTF gambit with the NEO has forced B to make more improvements than they would if their original PIP 737-to-NSA strategy had worked.

    • Six months ago I would have been in total agreement with your viewpoint Christopher. But what happened in the last six months? NOTHING! Think about it a little bit. It’s frightening.

  51. Aero Ninja :
    Sorry Normand but they already did try option # 3, putting all of their weight behind it. It seemed to be quite obvious to most that this was, and remains to be, an unsatisfactory option.

    a) Putting all their weight behind it?
    b) It seemed to be quite obvious to most?
    c) An unsatisfactory option?

    Ninja, I have put a question mark after some of the statements you have made. I would appreciate if you could elaborate a bit more on what you say. I would like to know who have been putting all their weight behind it. I would also like to know who you have in mind when you say it was obvious to most. And please explain what is unsatisfactory about option 3.

    But I agree with you that the cheapest, minimal as possible option 2 to get them by, is indeed the most desirable at the moment. If I was the CEO and wanted to save my job, that is what I would do. But how long would Boeing be able to benefit from it?

    In each of the three possible scenarios there is money to be spent and a duration associated with it:

    Option 1 is good for five to ten years and could cost around $2-3B
    Option 2 is good for ten to twenty years and could cost around $4-5B
    Option 3 is good for thirty to forty years and could cost around $10-12B.

    Which one of them will give Boeing the best return on its investment?
    Which one of them will allow Boeing to remain competitive with Airbus and others?
    Which one of them will prevent Boeing from becoming a has-been?

    One way or another there is a lot of money involved. But there is also a reputation at stake here. Option 3 would be a kind of large CSeries. The latter is the most efficient aircraft in the 125-150 passengers segment. It has practically no competition. Concomitantly, Option 3 would be the most efficient aircraft in the 150-225 passengers segment.

    Unless Boeing is ready to pass the crown to someone else…

    The king is dead. Long live the king. 🙁

    • “Unless Boeing is ready to pass the crown to someone else…”

      Not in McNerneys dreams 😉
      Assimilate Bombadier ?

      • As a hear to the throne, Bombardier is a prince who is still in his cradle.

    • Well Normand, I would say Boeing tried all they could to push the NSA concept to all of their customers, and even though said customers loved the idea of an NSA, very few were willing to wait over a decade for it. Some said this publicly (Southwest) and some said it by ordering NEOs and I could imagine that some told Boeing this privately.
      Due to the fact that Boeing has gone the Max route, I would have thought it seemed obvious that NSA goes on the back burner at very low heat. It looks like Airbus will have it their way and there won’t be new narrow bodies from Boeing or Airbus until 2025 at the very earliest. Even if Boeing were to cancel Max and resurrect the current NSA concept, they have lost quite a bit of time and it would still not solve the problem of their customers not waiting at least 10 years.

      Perhaps it isn’t as obvious as I thought it was.

  52. Normand Hamel :
    As a hear to the throne, Bombardier is a prince who is still in his cradle.

    OK, reformulating in that context:
    Boeing “adopting” Bombardier?
    ( both start with the same letter anyway 😉

    • It would be preferable if Boeing bought Bombardier before the end of the year. Because after the CSeries maiden flight the share price will also take off.

      After the acquisition Boeing could try to find out what is Bombardier’s secret for building such a nice aircraft as the CSeries for such a small investment. And then they could tailor the NSA to mesh perfectly with the CS500. They would have a product line that would make Airbus envious.

      If the adoption aborts, like the NSA did, BBD will have an open field in front of them to bring big players like the CS500, CS700 and CS900. And if they need space to build them they can always buy or rent the Renton plant that will have been left vacant by that time.

    • Boeing bought Dehavilland in Toronto in 1986. Nobody on either side were happy (despite supposed guarantees that they would not do so, Boeing not only cancelled the Twin Otter and the Dash 7 but also scrapped the tooling and Boeing considered the workforce to be way more militant than the current lot they have in Seattle, plus they considered them to be unproductive an unreliable). After Air Canada ordered A320s in 1988, things got even worse until Bombardier bought them in 1992.

      Boeing hasn’t shown any interest in Bombardier and its subsidiaries since then.

      Most signs seem to indicate that both Boeing and Airbus have more interest in working with Embraer or, especially Boeing, Mitsibushi and other japanese companies.

      • Typical US management is regularly not able to leverage the synergiy euro style workforce and engineering provide.

        By mindset they are stuck in early capitalism.

        Aquisition usually does not go beyond dissecting, selling of the valuables and trashing the remainder. The net from these transactions is negative. GM management for Germany’s Opel
        provides an abysmal picture in this context.

  53. Option 2 looks a no-brainer if those numbers are anywhere close. Even after finance, what is effectively an extra $2 billion over Option 1 is only around $1,5 million per unit, and they unlock a lot of ongoing possibilities, even perhaps FBW, but re-certification would definitely become a problem.
    The issue is that they cannot continue to delay, and customers have to come to terms with a much lower level of spares and systems commonality between NG and MAX.

  54. Normand Hamel
    If option 1 and 2 do not work out and we will (should) find out soon and a NSA
    is the only alternative left, than Boeing still has at least 3 big questions to answer:
    1. What will the effect of the NEO be on the 737NG market and for how long.
    2. What will the cost be for the NSA. How long will it take for that a/p to start
    earning $s and how big/small will the remaining market be, after nothing but
    NEO sales?
    3. What will the first priority be for Boeing, the NSA, or an improved or all new
    777 and what will the affect of that decision be, on the other program left un-

    Taking the losses on the 787 and the (s)low selling 747-8 into account, where is
    the money going to come from, for either of the above two options?
    The KC67 program is also reported to have been underpriced, in order to win the competition with the KC30!

    • 1- The effect of the neo on the 737NG market will be devastating.

      2- It will cost a lot of money because Boeing is too big now to design and build aircraft cheaply. Even in the best scenario it would still take a very long time for Boeing to make a profit with the NSA. But eventually it would come because I am sure they have learned from their past mistakes. It will be difficult though. Some would say foolish. But for Boeing the alternative would be much more prejudicial to that part of their commercial airplane business.

      3- The first priority for Boeing should be the NSA over the 777X. The latter will have to be done eventually, there is no doubt about it. But it’s not urgent. The competition is mounting though. But it remains ill defined for the moment. On the other hand the competition for the 737, NG or MAX, is anything but ill defined.

      Where is the money going to come from you ask? It’s a very good question. For now Boeing still benefits from it’s momentum. But sooner or later the cash will dry out. For the reasons you give here and many additional ones unfortunately. I call this kind of situation a bad conjunction.

      If that is true, would it not be wiser then to shelve costly projects like the NSA, which would generate negative returns for years to come, and concentrate instead on successful programs? Yes, maybe. But beside the 777, the 737 is the only other profitable program at BCA. And that program is increasingly threatened by the competition. And also by it’s own inherent limitations obviously. If it cannot survive it will have to be replaced, no matter what.

      They are talking about increasing the 737 production because they have a backlog in the thousands. It’s always hard to see the danger when you have such a well filled order book. Ask Pratt & Whitney about their adventure with the JT8D. That engine was for them at the time what the 737 is to Boeing today.

  55. Scott calles this the story that won’t die, but it looks like the comments won’t die either!!

  56. Normand Hamel
    That unfortunately is a perfect summation of the precarious situation Boeing
    is in with 737NG and if I may suggest, the right time to quit this subject, until
    Boeing make a formal announcement about what they have decided to do
    with the program. I’s been fascinating!

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