Feb 24, 2015: The mainline jet orders get the headlines, and the focus on the order cycle, but the smaller jets have yet to see their order cycle peak.
Goldman Sachs downgraded Boeing to a Sell this week, in part on the theory that orders for the single-aisle, mainline jets have peaked and an oversupply is developing in its competition with Airbus.
The oversupply—if it develops—will only get worse as Airbus and Boeing ramp up production. Airbus has announced plans to take A320 family production to 46/yr next year. It’s notified the supply chain to be ready to go to 54/mo in 2018.
Boeing has announced plans to go to a firm rate of 52 737s per month in 2018. It’s considering 58/mo in 2019 and 63/mo in 2020, according to supply chain sources. We expect Airbus to match.
Given the long backlogs for mainline jets, out to 2020 and even beyond, it’s natural to conclude the order cycle has peaked for the time being. At the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference Feb. 11 in Lynnwood (WA), Boeing’s VP Marketing Randy Tinseth said the company sees the need for 4,000 more orders for the A320/737 class in the next five years. This averages 800 per year, or about 440 per year for the A320 and 360/yr for the 737 at the recent split of 55%/45% for the two airplanes. This is down dramatically from recent order history and well below the book:bill of the production rates.
If the mainline order cycle has peaked, it’s a different story for the smaller jets in the 70-130 seat sectors.
There are still a large number of aging 50-90 seat Bombardier CRJs and Embraer ERJs in service that have to be replaced. Even though the market is up-gauging, competition is growing in this sector.
In the 100-130 sector, Bombardier and Embraer square off with the CS100 and the E-195 E1/E2 respectively.
Embraer sees hundreds of orders for its E-Jets in the near term. It already has orders and commitments for nearly 600 E2s, the next generation of the E-Jet that is planned for delivery beginning in 2018. It is still racking up orders for the E1, the original version of the E-Jet that entered service in 2004. Embraer sees nearly 800 retirements between now and 2018 in North America alone.
The Japan Aircraft Development Corp., which has ties to Mitsubishi, sees a demand for 3,508 regional jets (under 100 seats) through 2033, nearly 3,400 in the 60-99 seat sector. Another 1,800 jets will be needed in the 100-119 seat sector. JADC doesn’t break out the demand to 135 seats, instead identifying the next sector as 120-160 seats.
Embraer sets revisions in the US Scope Clauses, which should provide more market opportunities at the mainline carriers for airplanes such as the E-195 and CS100.
American Airlines last week said it sees a need for a 100 seat airplane.
Bombardier’s CSeries sales have been stalled for all the reasons we’ve written about going back two years: pricing policies, inflexible terms and conditions, personnel turnover, aggressive pricing by Airbus, program delays and more. We expect sales to begin to pick up next year. We don’t expect to see anything meaningful by the Paris Air Show nor, perhaps, even later this year, as Bombardier sorts out its financial issues and rebuilds its sales force following the naming of a new chief executive officer this month. Testing has to be completed and a launch operator nailed down.
The CRJ 900 will tick along slowly. The CRJ 1000 is a marginal aircraft with few sales expected. The MRJ90 will eventually share the market domination with Embraer for the 70-90 seat sector. The SSJ100 will remain a niche aircraft and the ARJ21 will be confined to China.
We don’t believe the order cycle has reached the top of the bell curve, nor will it for the next several years.
“We expect Airbus to match.”
Boeing has an important assembly facility in Renton with 3 lines with a capability of 21 aircraft/month (one aircraft by work day). From my understanding, Airbus has 1 line in Tianjin, China (8 aircraft/month), 1 line in Mobile, Alabama (8 aircraft/month) and a total of 5 lines in Toulouse/Hamburg (42 or 44? aircraft/month). How can Airbus match a production of 63 aircraft/month?
Simply by increasing the capacity of one or several of its assembly lines.
Why Airbus wouldn’t be able to make it with four FAL while Boeing has only one ?
Boeing has 3 running, all in the same building.
they just do it more efficiently!
Yep, 3 FAL with a capability of 21 aircraft/month. Right and Left lines are at full capacity when the center line is used for the transition to the 737MAX with a reduced production rate of a few aircraft/month (2-4???). Since the 757 is discontinued, the Renton facility is exclusively used for the 737.
As Airbus expands with new single source Tier 1 suppliers, and second source Tier 2 suppliers, the Airbus single aisle production infrastructure will IMJ be capable of producing upwards of 80 units per month after 2020.
Four A32X final assembly lines.
Mobile: 10 per month
Tianjin: 10 per month
Toulouse: 20 per month
Hamburg: 40 per month
Boeing will, IMJ, have a very hard time maintaining production at more than 50 units per month for what looks to essentially be a one trick pony (i.e 737-8 MAX).
For Airbus the situation is entirely different. They’ve currently got a single aisle portfolio of 2 strong selling members. That may not be the end of the story. A 6-7 frame stretch of the A320neo (i.e. A322X) and a 10 frame stretch of the A321neoLR (i.e. A323X which would have the same MTOW the A321neoLR), would IMO be a no-brainer.
*NB: In comparison, the A321 is a 13 fuselage frame stretch over that of the A320, while the 737-900 was only stretched by 5 fuselage over that of the 737-900.
Correction: while the 737-900 was only stretched by 5 fuselage over that of the 737-800.
while the 737-900 was only stretched by 5 fuselage frames over that of the 737-800. 🙂
“The CRJ 1000 is a marginal aircraft with few sales expected.” This will be true for as long as the Scope Clauses are still in effect. But if they ever get lifted I believe the CRJ1000 could potentially be a highly profitable airplane for any airline that needs this kind of capacity.
“Bombardier’s CSeries sales have been stalled for all the reasons we’ve written about going back two years: pricing policies, inflexible terms and conditions, personnel turnover, aggressive pricing by Airbus, program delays and more.”
I am curious about the actual price of the Cseries. It is well reported that the A320/B737 are frequently discounted by 50% if not more (60%) for some very good custormer (ex: Boeing for Southwest ). Moreover, Bombardier once declared that they will not “give” their aircraft to airlines, meaning that Bombardier will not offer extraordinary discount for the Cseries. If you consider the production rate of Boeing (I think it is 42-44? right now) and Airbus (46aircraft/month?) and that the Cseries is a cleansheet aircraft at the beginning of its learning curve, I would not by very suprised if the Cseries is more expansive to buy than the A320/B737.
Run the numbers and they are both right at 42 a month I believe.
I think Airbus takes a month off so you really need to do yearly.
Production last year was something like 49.7% 737 and the 51.3% Airbus.
As I note all to often for some, Airbus can’t get real market share until they build more than Boeing, or we hit 2020 and Boeings orders are all done and Airbus then sells A320s (not likely and Boeing will probably , maybe have a new 737 out by then)
We have seen a lot more flips to Boeing than the other way so Airbus should be making more money per A320 than Boeing does on the 737.
Wisdom was at one time Boeing did not compete on price, i.e the 737 was superior, now it looks to be flipped, Boing has to undercut Airbus.
So it goes
Soon enough it will mostly break down into a one trick pony for A,B, and C. A321, 738, or CS300. Embraer should get a good split of models at the low end though.
I think Airbus deeply discounting to keep the CSeries away and keep ahead of Boeing has developped on a kind of feel good story for its competitors.
In reality we have seen very few airlines having the attention to switch from the A320 to more restricted(*) older 737s. So no real need to discount deeply from that perspective.
Looking at Boeing trying to protect their market (e.g by discouting) from switching to Airbus, thats a totally different story. They went from 90% to 45% marketshare. Kicking and screaming.
* seat capacity, container capability, cabin & cockpit comfort, engine choice, airfield performance, WB cockpit commonality.
If oil prices remain low for an extended period some airlines might postpone their fleet renewal plans, which could have a detrimental impact on aircraft manufacturers. Boeing and Airbus should think twice before ramping up production at this time.
Wall Street Gurus:
“Goldman Sachs downgraded Boeing to a Sell this week, in part on the theory that orders for the single-aisle, mainline jets have peaked […]”
Boeing is going to make a lot of money within the coming years. So the cash will come in then and not now. So sell now! Good advice.
The music was bound to stop and it looks like the needle is about to be lifted. Both Boeing and Airbus are satisfying demand by raising the output. The bottom line is that neither wants to leave money on the table by letting the other garner more sales than the other so they’ll race each other to the edge of the cliff. Just from figure on the top of my head, A and B produce roughly 960 planes per year. that’s 4,800 planes is 5 years at the rate of 40 per mo per OEM. Add in the rate increase proposed by both, low oil, rising used inventory, something has to give. There’s no way that this can be sustained without future cancellations from both. It might be worse for Airbus since it’s backlog is oversold. I stress the word might.
While the MRJ’s and EJets of the world rack up sales for retirement of older models, it’d be wise if A and B went back to the laboratory and tackled the new NB offering for the next decade.
While we might care about 45%vs 55%, in the end it’s all numbers and what maters more is staying deep in the black and returning money to shareholders. 90% wasn’t ever going to stay 90%. Logically it would be that A is trying to protect its 10%margin from B. (why would you protect your smaller share and from who??) Competition has other plans and as other entrants enter the arena, so decreases market share. Arithmetic.
Its actually 58-42% at this moment. Looking forward 60-40% is not unlikely. That mean Airbus NEO gets 50% more orders. http://www.pdxlight.com/neomax.htm
But it seems recently it has become more important how much you actually deliver. If that doesn’t work anymore we can look at market share (aircraft in operation). After that focus on total aircraft delivered, during the last 50 years.. But the writing is on the wall.
If the CS300 score a few more orders and Airbus murmurs about a NEO 200 seater, Boeing has no other option then to launch the Boeing Carbon A320. Few have noticed, but McNerney started saying so.
“”It will be slightly bigger, there will be new engines. The current look of the planes (shape) won’t change dramatically,” McNerney said…. there’s “a good chance it will be a composite airplane.” By referring to a composite 737 structure, McNerney suggests the successor plane will draw from the composite-built 787 Dreamliner, Boeing’s latest all-new aircraft.
McNerney said an all-new 737 MAX replacement was needed “because the new entrants would do something like MAX.”
Boeing 797 here we come. 2023?
James said it exactly a year ago & the situation isn’t getting rosier.
“If the CS300 score a few more orders and Airbus murmurs about a NEO 200 seater, Boeing has no other option then to launch the Boeing Carbon A320. Few have noticed, but McNerney started saying so.”
I totally agree with you on this. But I would add to what you say that McNerney did not fail to notice that the 737 no longer shares 50% of the market with the A320. Airbus is likely to retain the edge for the foreseeable future and Bombardier could eventually come out with a CS500. That situation leaves Boeing no other option but to launch the 797 as soon as possible. Of course Bombardier would not be able to respond and Airbus would be stuck with the neo because it would still be competitive enough and nothing would justify a clean sheet design. This situation would allow Boeing to regain supremacy in the narrowbody sector, but at a great cost. Airbus would no longer sell as many aircraft but its margins would be considerably higher. This may explain why it took so long for Boeing to come to terms with the fact that the 737 is obsolete.
I think Boeing came to turns with the end of the 737 life cycle years ago. And then some airlines (DL, AA, SW) told them 2017. Since then they are making the best of it.
It would be logical if Boeing would be sweating over the 737-9 as we speak, to see what further improvements they can crank out of it. That’s to be expected when a new product gets a so so reception & you have 4 years left.
Boeing has 500 undisclosed MAX orders and a pile of lessors in its order book. But everybody is perfectly OK with that, or at least says so.
“It would be logical if Boeing would be sweating over the 737-9 as we speak, to see what further improvements they can crank out of it.” No, I think the 737 is already MAXed out. 🙁
“That situation leaves Boeing no other option but to launch the 797 as soon as possible. Of course Bombardier would not be able to respond and Airbus would be stuck with the neo because it would still be competitive enough and nothing would justify a clean sheet design. This situation would allow Boeing to regain supremacy in the narrowbody sector, but at a great cost.”
You’re ignoring the massive advantage the huge installed base of A320ceos and A320neos will have over any all new single aisle aircraft from Boeing. IMJ, Boeing will never gain parity with
Airbus in the single aisle market, if all what they can come up with would essentially be a carbon copy of a composite winged A320/A321.
In short, Boeing IMJ is now reaping the consequences of poor strategic planning. Soon after Airbus launched the A320, Boeing started to market the 7J7 which was targeted squarely at killing the A320 with technology radical by the standard of the 1980s and 1990s. Realising by the early 1990s that the A320 was a serious threat, Boeing was forced to respond. The strategic mistake, IMO, was to launch the 737NG instead of an all new single aisle family, however successful the 737NG family turned out to be. The major mistake IMO was the senior Boeing management’s failure to envision that their single aisle platform would be inferior to the born-to-be-re-engined-with a-singnificantly-larger-fan — A320 — if advances in technology in the not too distant future would allow for much higher by-pass ratios for short-haul, single aisle aircraft.
The original 737 was born in an era** in which high by-pass ratios were not looked at as very desirable for short haul aircraft. It may look as if Boeing’s senior management believed that would continue to be the case for a very long time when they decided to go ahead with the 737NG. Of course, other factors played a role as well, Southwest Airlines wanted maximum commonality with their installed fleet of 737-300s, while Boeing probably wanted to maintain the fuselage commonality with the 757. Perhaps one could say that the streak of strategic mistakes for Boeing started with the 757, by not designing it in the first place, with an all new and wider fuselage. Why go through all that hassle of designing what was basically an all new aircraft, and then insisting on using a fuselage that was designed at the beginning of the jet age, while not being able to provide the same 18-inch seat width as the 767, which was being developed at the same time. Yet, Boeing still managed to design the 737NG; a platform that would have very little commonality with the 757.
“The major mistake IMO was the senior Boeing management’s failure to envision that their single aisle platform would be inferior to the born-to-be-re-engined-with a-singnificantly-larger-fan — A320 — if advances in technology in the not too distant future would allow for much higher by-pass ratios for short-haul, single aisle aircraft.”
I would be the first one to blame Boeing for a “lack of vision” but what you say would have been a bit too much to ask from any “visionary” at the time (the early nineties). But it would be a perfect statement for the NSA versus the MAX.
What Boeing did with the 737NG is absolutely remarkable and was quite obviously the right thing to do. The CFM56 was in those days what the GTF represents today: the most advanced design of its generation. What Boeing did with the 737NG was the same as Airbus is doing right now with its A320neo, only much more.
Yes, what Boeing did with the 737NG may have been remarkable, but it has IMO been detrimental to its long term single-aisle strategy.
From a strategic point of view, the question is when do you replace your current single aisle platform with something entirely new.
The problem for Boeing is that Airbus, in all likelihood, will be able to keep producing A320s, A320neos and even A320neoNGs until something entirely different is on the table. That could be well into the 2040s — and they will IMJ be able to underbid any all new Boeing NSA competitor due to (a), lower production costs and (b), the already mentioned massive advantage the huge installed base of A320ceos and A320neos will have over any all new single aisle aircraft from Boeing. The NSA will sort of have to start from scratch.
To be able to continue producing relatively unchanged A320s for what could turn out to be more than half a century will be a massive advantage for Airbus. All current A32X operators will have few, or any incentives to change to a more expensive Boeing NSA when adding an A32X will only be incremental, cost-wise (i.e. no need to invest in new simulators, ground support Equipment, etc.) — and then, we are not even mentioning obsolescence issues.
Assuming a revolution in both propulsion and airframe Technologies coming online by the early 2040s — caused partly by increased funding for aerospace research and development due to an emerging gloal consensus on anthropogenic climate change — would mean that a Boeing new single aisle (NSA) programme that would have been launched in 2012/2013, and having an EIS in the early 2020s, would have been in danger of having too short a production life.
What is entirely different now than what was the case when Boeing launched the 737NG, is that serious architectural design alternatives to the current tube-and-wing configuration are starting to emerge.
So, in short, the strategic error on the part of Boeing was IMJ executed back in the 1990s, and not after Airbus launched the A32oneo — and I don’t agree that it would have been too much to ask for more technology foresight from the Boeing managment at the time.
“From a strategic point of view, the question is when do you replace your current single aisle platform with something entirely new.” In the nineties the 737 still had plenty of potential left in it. All it needed was a new wing and new engines and that is exactly what Boeing did and more.
“So, in short, the strategic error on the part of Boeing was IMJ executed back in the 1990s, and not after Airbus launched the A32oneo — and I don’t agree that it would have been too much to ask for more technology foresight from the Boeing managment at the time.”
OV, I sincerely believe that you normally have more judgement and technical knowledge than just about anyone else around here but this time around you are offering feeble arguments to defend a lost position. Everything you say would apply perfectly to the MAX versus NSA debate but is out of synch with historical technological development.
“In the nineties the 737 still had plenty of potential left in it. All it needed was a new wing and new engines and that is exactly what Boeing did and more.”
Yes, a new wing that was designed a decade later than the one on the A320. Yet, the A321neoLR will be able to take of with a MTOW of 97 metric tonnes, on a slightly smaller wing, while using a much shorter take-off roll than the maxed out 737-9 which will have a MTOW some 9 tonnes less than the former. Doesn’t seem right, does it?
If, on the other hand, that all new wing had been put on an aircraft sitting higher off the ground, then Boeing wouldn’t be finding themselves in a conundrum right now. By choosing back then to put a newer and larger and very expensive, on paper, more capable wing (than the one on the A320) on their competing single aisle offering — yet self-handicapping themselves with a fuselage/wing combo that’s not really competitive at fuselage lengths above that of the 737-800, while the wing is at least as capable as the one on the A320/A321 — Boeing may have gained tactically for the short to near term with the 737NG, but still made what I consider to be a major strategic mistake with negative long term consequences.
Keep in mind that an all new wing is roughly half the way to an all new aircraft. Add all of the other modifications, and you’re well on your way to an all new aircraft. Compare that to the A320neo and A330neo. Not much change except for a new pylon, strengthening the wing, and of course, a new engine.
“OV, I sincerely believe that you normally have more judgement and technical knowledge than just about anyone else around here but this time around you are offering feeble arguments to defend a lost position. Everything you say would apply perfectly to the MAX versus NSA debate but is out of synch with historical technological development.”
Thanks for the compliment. 😉
However, on this one we will just have to agree to disagree.
There was nothing IMJ that would have prevented Boeing from developing an all new single aisle, A320 competitor, in the 1990s. It should IMO have been fully fly-by-wire and developed with full cockpit commonality with the 777.
What Boeing’s managers seemingly decided to do instead — back then — was, of course, not much different from any other business that follows the Anglo-Saxon shareholder value model, where the sole legitimate purpose of business is to create shareholder value. So, saving a few billions up-front makes investors happy, but doing so may lead to some long term negative repercussions for the company.
Everyone appears to be suggesting that we are going to have a massive turf war in NB, something that makes the WB market look like a picnic in comparison. Judging by all the new and proposed NB competitors it appears that they have crawled over the A320 frame and copied it cm for cm. As such it has become the definitive cross-section and technology base for the whole industry.
As such would it not be possible for A to iterate the basic design step by step towards a CFRP aircraft by commencing with a new wingbox, then wing and progressively develop a fuselage from there. A will then be able to grandfather the aircraft on the existing frame and spread development and re-tooling costs over time.
I am sure that technical issues abound, but this approach would have the advantage of allowing for continuous improvement as technology (engines, fbw, CFRP) improve over time. Less shooting for the moon and more a gradual increase in altitude.
Re the incremental carbonization of the A320, the easiest and cheapest place to start is by gradually incrementally replacing the fuselage skin panels and doors with panels based on A350 tech. not the whole fuse all at once, but a few panels at a time. this gives them a nice production ramp scaling A350 fuselage panel manufacturing methods and facilities up to the volumes required for a NB. each year replace another panel…
then move on to the engine pylons and outer wing panels
then replace the landing gear with composite landing gear
save the wingbox for last, that is the hardest, most invasive part.
Making the hull of the A320 carbon would lead to an all new aircraft. The mechanical properties are the same & the supporting structure has to change with it.
It seems Airbus will not need to rebuild the A320 at this moment.
The low hanging fruit would be IMO optimized capacities (200 seater) and work on bigger variants.
The last would need a new carbon wing like 787, A350, 777X or “half carbon” like A400M and E2. And they could put a NSA engine under it (GTF-2, RR Advance, Geared Leap).
Airbus will let Boeing move first.
Yep.. Airbus doesn’t really have to do much until Boeing makes a move. The A32X series is doing just fine for now. Let Boeing come up with a NSA, see what they have done, and just incrementally make it a little bit better. And back to status quo we will go.
that was kind of my point.
Boeing is at the point where they need a ground up new aircraft, and once Boeing does that, Airbus can counter by incrementally “carbonizing” the A320 design to reduce weight and improve aerodynamics
Several of you commenters are now having the right back and forth discussion and stating or implying the important points:
– Boeing will need a 737 MAX successor sooner than their public statements
indicate. Say in service by 2025
– That’s before any new 4000 nm midrange, .84 mach, niche airplane competing
with a A321 neo LR (possibly reengined again by 2025-2027 — even rewinged
too) — not 2- 3 years after.
– Boeing’s NSA will need to be good enough to beat a straightforward 200
passenger A320/321 Airbus response with a composite wing and new engines.
Boeing won’t find that easy. Note that the same engine technology will be
available to both. And both have the composite wing knowhow.
I think Boeing will need a two aisle, 220+ passenger NSA solution and more technology than they may now be planning: fuselage weight reduction, more body lift, folding wingtips, etc. Perhaps out of Boeing management’s current comfort zone.
And, in addition, Boeing must give serious consideration to say 2000 nm range in basic model instead of 3000 nm and .75 mach instead of .8 cruise for less fuel burned and carbon generated. These would pay off for over 95% of NSA’s missions with big annual fleet savings. There can still be LR models
And, for sure, consider airline fleet carbon savings –which will be a huge driving factor as public concerns increase and government actions lead or respond — via some form of carbon taxes etc.
It may be that in the 2030’s and 2040’s, when most NSA’s would be built, optimum passenger capacity will increase and departures decrease for lower total fleet carbon emissions. And the new optimum commercial cargo capacity for NSA’s may be small as rail and natural gas powered truck becomes preferred over domestic air cargo. I doubt if NSA’s should plan for big containers and big belly cargo resulting in heavier fuselages, bigger engines etc
Think about it.
You man-made climate change doubters need to study the latest IPCC and NASA etc reports. Study the science.
New airplane could have,
Mach .7 cruise
Will they introduce this on a 75 seat or 150 seat aircraft first?
We first need a 200 passenger NSA which will fit airport gates in 2025, not 175′ strut braced wings (NASA studies and research) or hybrid electric propulsion etc for 2035 or beyond
There may be some advantages to a highwing design. Bigger fans while keeping the fuselage low to the ground for servicing. Maybe some low stub wings like the Boeing 314 for the landing gear to be housed in.
OV-099: “Yes, a new wing that was designed a decade later than the one on the A320. Yet, the A321neoLR will be able to take of with a MTOW of 97 metric tonnes, on a slightly smaller wing, while using a much shorter take-off roll than the maxed out 737-9 which will have a MTOW some 9 tonnes less than the former. Doesn’t seem right, does it?”
No it doesn’t seem right at all and I have been saying so for many years now on this blog. But in the nineties it was the right thing to do. Unless your point is that while Boeing was redesigning the wing for the NG its engineers should have developed a wing able to accommodate a taller gear for potentially larger diameter engines. Boeing was already facing that new reality as the CFM56 nose cowl had to be flattened to leave enough clearance with the ground. But I am not sure if this would have been technically feasible without affecting the grand-father clause that allows Boeing to fly a lighter fuselage than the one on the A320 which has been penalized by the new regulations.
OV-099: “Boeing may have gained tactically for the short to near term with the 737NG, but still made what I consider to be a major strategic mistake with negative long term consequences.” OV, the “short to near term” you are talking about lasted more than twenty years! That’s why I can’t blame Boeing for having extracted the huge potential that was left in the 737 at the time.
I believe it would be fair to say that Boeing was lucky with the grand-father clause and has maximized its potential brilliantly with the NG. But it seems Chicago and Seattle were unable to agree on when enough was enough. When the CSeries was launched both Airbus and Boeing had to respond to this new threat and Airbus was the first to blink. That offered a wonderful opportunity for Boeing to do nothing until Airbus was fully committed to the A320 neo. When I say “do nothing” I mean to start working immediately on the NSA, but in secrecy like Airbus did initially for the A380. I remember visiting Toulouse a long time ago when my host showed me a building where a secret new aircraft was being designed: it was the yet to be announced A380. Boeing should have done the same with the NSA, and probably did so until someone hit the panic button that stopped the entire process.
We can argue about what Boeing should have done twenty-five years ago but in the end it will have been an academic discussion. What has not been discussed enough though is the 797. I have been using the very same arguments against the MAX that you are using today against the NG. But I have been preaching alone in the desert in favour of the NSA as just about every posters on this web has been telling me for the last four years that the technology is not there to justify investing in a clean-sheet design. It’s rather ironic that you would be using the very same arguments against the NG that I have been using against the MAX. If what you say about the NG makes any sense imagine for the MAX!
Boeing faced a few years ago the same problem Bombardier is facing today: to spend a large sum of money on a new aircraft design that would eventually be only marginally superior to the competition. But like Bombardier, Boeing had no other choice in order to be able to compete over the long term. The NSA would have had enormous potential for development and improvement like the CSeries has with the CS500/700/900, while the 737 MAX is more limited towards the A320neo family than the NG was towards the original A320 family. Today anything below the MAX-8 belongs to Bombardier while everything above the MAX-8 belongs to Airbus.
It may not be too late for Boeing to rectify the situation but like Bombardier it may have lost some of the advantage it had earlier in the game due to the continuously accumulating delays.
“Unless your point is that while Boeing was redesigning the wing for the NG its engineers should have developed a wing able to accommodate a taller gear for potentially larger diameter engines.”
No, what I’m saying is that they should have gone the full monty and developed an all new single aisle aircraft when they had the chance. When Boeing launched the 737NG, only some 250 A320s where in service. A Boeing NSA will have to face an installed base of >10,000 A32x-family aircraft — that’s a big difference. Back then, you had many more Boeing-loyal operators. That would have been an extra advantage for Boeing in fending off competition to their all new single aisle aircraft from the up-and-coming A320. In short, Boeing would IMJ have been much better off in the long run if they had chosen to compete with the A320 on equal terms, and not just trying to milk an existing platform as much as possible for the benefit of the short-term investor.
Again, doing an all new wing is halfway to an all new aircraft. Why does Boeing typically choose to go for such massive investments for old legacy platforms (e.g. 737NG, 777X), when doing so means that they’re already more than half of the way to an all new platform. Airbus planned to do the same with the original A350. Then they backtracked, decided to go all new, while waiting another decade to cheaply upgrade the A330.
The main reason, IMJ, that Boeing, back then, made the desicion not to develop an all new single aisle aircraft family, was — in addition to a business philosophy where the sole legitimate purpose of business is to create shareholder value, and while doing so, having a business philosophy where you’re trying to minimize R&D expenses up-front by re-using as much as possible of legacy systrems and hardware (e.g. working fine when the competition is MacDac and Lockheed)– due to Boeing’s long history of underestimating Airbus; their sense of entitlement and about their role in the business; like they were the only real game in town — and that Airbus supposedly “couldn’t possibly”*** exist commercially, without government subsidies. If Boeing had viewed Airbus as a “worthy” competitor back then — as a world class competitor with no less engineering prowess than themsleves — instead of reasoning that Airbus apparently could only exist due to subsidies, then I’m sure Boeing would have taken the A320 much more seriously from the beginning and decided to go all new as a response.
What was the 7J7 exactly, if not a stupid response to the A320? Having wasted the second half of the 1980s, talking just the talk –and not the walk — with their all new wonderplane that would eliminate the competition when it EISed, Boeing had to return back to the world of reality by the early 1990s. However, by that time they had already launched the all new 777 programme. Hence, Boeing’s senior management had their hands tied when they launched the 737NG. A forward-looking company would have taken that opportunity to launch an all new single aisle programme that would have had a maximum level of commonality with the just-launched 777. By not being a forward-looking company, and caught up in quarterly capitalism, Boeing’s managers had an easy choice and decided to do what the knew best and thus went for the 737NG.
Obviously I have been totally unsuccessful in my attempt to drag you into the MAX versus NSA debate. This is unfortunate as most of your arguments against the 737NG would readily apply to the 737 MAX. But for some reason you seem to avoid the subject entirely. In your long diatribe the word MAX is not mentioned once. I don’t understand why we are wasting time trying to rewrite history when we could concentrate on the future of Boeing which depends on decisions that are (not) taken TODAY.
Fine, but Boeing had no choice but to respond with the MAX. Both OEMs are living by the development cycle of new technologies, and the technology readiness level was not there in 2011 — and still isn’t — in order to bring the needed step-change in efficiency over that of the neo. In 1991 Boeing were in a position where they could have matched the A320 with an all new family of their own. In 2011, they were in no position to launch a new single aisle programme, hence the strategic mistake IMJ was done back then, not in 2011.
It is hard to put a finger on where Boeing could have turned the ship and secured Global Narrow Body Domination 😉 😉
2010-2015. When Airbus launched the NEO (Dec’10), they were in a credibility crises (787 grounded) and their home customer told them to be ready by 2017. So that was to late to turn the ship.
2005-2010. In the years before Airbus was testing winglets, cabin options and PW and CFM were working on new engines. At the time (2006) I posted a A320 “Enhanced Performance” proposal with a spec closely resembling the NEO. And pointed out the 737 could not match. Kaktusdigital even made artist impressions.
However if I remember well, there was great resistance in the industry to do two major programs in parallel at the time. And they were doing the 747 Advanced next to the 7e7 already..
2000-2005 In ’01-’03 the industry was in survival mode after 9-11 and it became clear the A330 outperformed the 767s and 772. Different priorities.
1995-2000 We were in the economic bubble & Boeing overreached on producing combined 737 Classic and NG’s. In 1999 the entire Renton 737 assembly line had to be shut down to regain control.
1990-1995 Boeing were successfully developing and selling the 737 NG’s, if it works, don’t fix it..
Even looking back it’s hard to see what should have been done better over the last 20 years!
I think we have to point at the 787 again. If it had entered service in 2008-09 without draining the company, Boeing would have had different options. E.g. buying into the CSeries and launching a 170-240 NSA themselves..
Assuming there is two billion/yr to spend on programs, 2012 MAX 2B, 2013-2017 777x 10B, 2018- what starts next in three years?
An early NSA ATO (from 2018 ?) is implicitly a top executive disawowal from Chicago of their own 737 MAX. It implies : hey, we confess the 737 MAX is obsolete. Immediately, MAX sales will drop, from 40 % of the feeder market today, to below 30 % of the feeder market in the years 2018-2025, until the NSA is made available in meaningful numbers (that takes 4 years, so we are into the 2029 time-line…
Airbus tactics will be to raise A32X monthly poduction to 65+ units, milking the situation vs MAX. Calculate : ten years @ 70 % of the feeder market = 1,000 x 0.70 x 10 = 7,000 A32X series feeder aircraft (whereof many A321, A321LR and A322). A32X prices will go up, the MAX is losing steam and NSA is proposed at a high price. Airbus will make a lot of money !
When timely, Airbus will themselves launch their wankel-shaped (tri-cylindrical fuselage) counter to Boeing’s NSA out-designing the latter, Patents oblige.
Boeing mismaneuvred when MAX’ing the 737NG in July 2011. The time has come to “payer les pots cassés”.