Feb. 12, 2015, c. 2015 Leeham News and Comment: Boeing appeared to put to bed once and for all any prospect of reviving the 757 to fill a product gap between the 737-9 and the 787-8.
Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing, refuted a published report that said Boeing was studying resurrecting the plane, last delivered in 2005, with new engines and winglets. Tinseth made the remarks Feb. 11 at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference in Lynnwood (WA).
While Boeing studied the prospect at one or more points, we didn’t view this as particularly significant; Boeing looks at virtually all options when studying product development.
Our economic analysis, performed after the published report, is one reason why we didn’t believe Boeing would proceed with a “757 MAX.” The economics simply fall short of the competing Airbus A321LR by double digits.
But we also believe practical issues and strategy works against a revival of the 757. The practical issues include:
- Developing a 43,500 lb engine in a short period of time. Pratt & Whitney is likely the only OEM in a position to respond quickly (i.e., before 2020) with an engine, a derivative of the Geared Turbo Fan. CFM is immersed in development of its LEAP engine and Rolls-Royce won’t be in a position to offer a new engine until around 2025.
- But PW’s ability to development a GTF derivative may be questionable. In December, the new CEO of parent United Technologies said there won’t be any “big engine” GTF, though it’s unclear if a 43,000 lb engine would fit this description.
- More to the point, does PW have the engineering resources to develop another derivative on an early timeline? The company is developing GTFs for the Bombardier CSeries, the Mitsubishi MRJ, the Airbus A320neo family, the Irkut MC-21 and the Embraer E-Jet E2. Taking on another engine project may be out of the question even if PW was given the money to do a 43,500 lb engine.
- Where would a 757 MAX be built? Not at its old home in Renton (WA)—this facility is entirely dedicated to the 737NG and 737 MAX. Boeing’s Everett plant would likely be unavailable for any early timeline. The only possible space would be that of the 747-8, and production isn’t likely to end before 2018-19, in a worse-case scenario.
Given these practical considerations, we turn to strategic issues.
- If a 2019 timeline is out, requiring one closer to 2020 or 2021, this doesn’t fit with Market Intelligence that continues to indicate Boeing will possibly launch a new airplane program around 2018-19, once the 777X enters flight testing, to replace the 737 MAX and by extension the 757. EIS would be around 2025-2027.
- Therefore a 757 MAX, with an EIS of 2020-21, makes no sense strategically.