The MAX flies ahead of time

By Bjorn Fehrm

2 February 2016, ©. Leeham Co: The Boeing 737 MAX flew for the first time Friday. On Saturday it was in the air again. Boeing has communicated they will deliver the first aircraft to Southwest next year in the third quarter. We doubt it.

Just over seven weeks after it rolled out of the paint hangar, Boeing’s first 737 MAX — the “Spirit of Renton” — flew for the first time Friday, taking off from its namesake city at 9:48 a.m. January 29th, 2016

Boeing 737 MAX 8 takes off for first flight. Picture: Seattle Times.

It will be earlier, barring a major problem cropping up (and the chances are good there will be none).

Delivery of aircraft projects ahead of time is almost unheard of. And when it is Boeing that looks like being early, people start to think about the Dreamliner debacle. It was over three years late.

We would say: absolutely be skeptical, but in this case, there is reason for optimism.

The Boeing of today is a different Boeing than it was 2003 when the critical decisions were taken around the Dreamliner. At the time, Boeing was the reliable, the one who kept the promises they made. It was the dominating force, even though Airbus had eaten into its lead for too long. It was confident, too confident.

Consequently Boeing decided to take a major step forward with the 787 Dreamliner. And not only in technology but on all fronts. On how to build the aircraft; how to produce the aircraft and how to work with partners. It was just too much change. Way too much.

Product management courses teach: if you change the way you go about a project, change ONE aspect and keep the rest constant. Boeing changed just about everything. The result was predictable.

Consequently Boeing gradually lost all the carefully built up credibility. Especially as the Dreamliner was not alone in performance misses and time slips. The 747-8 was equally hit. The years 2008 to 2011 were no easy years for Boeing. Time for change.

Boeing decided there was only one way back: Under-promise and Over-deliver.

We shall see the 737 MAX program in this light. As shall we see with the 787-10 and 777X. Boeing has strengthened its program management and gathered all development activities under one management, led by Senior Vice President Scott Fancher.

For years, the constant message around Boeing’s Civil aircraft projects is that they progress to plan. So for the 737 MAX when it flew Friday, Boeing has at long last seemed to return to the good days of promises made, promises kept. It was communicated that the flight testing would finish in 2016. This is also realistic.

The MAX 8, which is the first aircraft to be certified in the MAX series, has a bit more on its plate than the competing Airbus 320neo. But it only have one engine to test, the CFM LEAP-1B.

In addition, a cleaned up glass cockpit shall be verified as shall Fly-By-Wire spoilers. The new split wingtips and the cleaned up tailcone will be checked as well. But these are low risk changes, as is the electronic control of the conventional bleed based air condition.

One consequently wonders what Boeing shall do between end of 2016 and third quarter 2017. Certification paperwork and preparation for first delivery only takes 2-4 months after finishing flight tests, absent any unknown problems.

The single biggest risk of the program is the engine, the LEAP-1B. But it has two larger variants, LEAP-1A and 1C running ahead of it. Of these, the LEAP-1A is in the midst of flight test on Airbus A320neo and there are no sign of testing issues to date.

We foresee a delivery to Southwest in second quarter 2017 if things progress with the normal level of issues. This would then be one quarter earlier than communicated, it could be two. Under-promise and Over-deliver.

70 Comments on “The MAX flies ahead of time

  1. Bjorn,

    What do you (or others) think of the prospects of the 77-9 being early.

    The max was launched (unfortunately IMHO) instead of a new design in reaction to the early success of the neo. The 77x should (could?) have been launched 1-2 years earlier so as to avoid (much of) the coming slowdown of 77W production and delivery.

    Probably the above was due, in significant degree, to the 787 problems.

    Hopefully Boeing won’t wait too long to launch the next new aircraft.

    • @Dan F: Boeing wants to advance 779 delivery to 4Q19, but it is too early to draw conclusions.

      • The inferences are its stock price plunged and its needs to crank out some good news.
        Its saying too that 737 max deliveries will be ‘advanced’ too. Stock price fall must have hair on fire on executive row.

  2. All new wing, all new engines and I have yet to hear what the decision on the use of LiA is.

    And I posted this in another section, but first I had heard anything substantive aobuty a revmpaed 737 longer fuselage (at the very end though its a good read for the rest)

    245 seats, longer fuselage and more importantly all new wing, longer landing gear and have to assume an all new larger engine(s) (leave to Bjorn to post if the A320 LEAP can get uprated for thrust and or if P&W gets into the game.

    • Still say a 767-200MAX would fill a void in Boeing’s line up. The 737-900MAX is a stretch too far, and adding to this frame would bring excessive runway requirements and doubtful in crossing the pond,(Atlantic) in all seasons without fuel stops. 767 line is still open,twin aisle, and many current carriers flying the 767.

      • the 767 is the Checker cab of the aeroplane world only bought by those who fly limited hours carrying boxes and fuel.

    • It seems to me that Boeing’s shortest and least expensive route to a MOM solution would be to produce an optional carbon fiber wing for the 737 which is plug compatible with the existing wing. It would be longer, with folding wingtips, and allow taller landing gear. They could ramp up production of this wing gradually, inserting it into the 737 production line, and optionally phase out the existing wing over 10 years. The taller landing gear would allow more clearance for a larger fan diameter and a longer fuselage. This strategy would be far less risky and disruptive than building an all new model.

      • No No Never! The customers would never pay for it as an ‘option’ as you lower efficiency of existing and ‘carbon wing’ production lines this pushes up selling price of both.
        Boeing doesnt need a larger fan diameter, thats A320 solution to a heavier plane structure plus bigger fans means more engine weight.
        A totally new wing at its most efficient, would mean a full 3 axis FBW- and you think it would be slotted in the production line like Chevy does with its engines ?

        • Hmm, the heavier engine has nothing to do with the heavier A320 structure.

          It has everything to do with what happens when you make a larger diameter engine.

          If you look at the thrust levels they are very close to the same.

          A320 has longer gear and simply easier to make diameter larger than more thrust.

          Of course as was noted by Keesje, Airbus was robbed, they could have had the small 737 engine all along! (and lighter)

          Go figure

  3. Ahead of time ? So they should since based on the current expected EIS it will 6 years from when the program was launched. A very leisurely progress ?

    Airbus were a bit ambitious for a while as they moved A320 neo EIS forward and then back but the date last month was 5 years + 1 month from launch.

    • Do remember that Airbus launched the 320neo at their own pace, that is they had done quite a lot of development work at launch, they knew what the aircraft was to look like.

      Boeing, on the other hand, was forced to launch the MAX virtually over night to avoid a major loss of an American 737NG customer. So, at the time of the launch of the MAX, it would be fair to assume Boeing already was at least 6 monts behind where Airbus was when they launched the NEO. So effectively Boeing was at least one year behind Airbus in the development from the very beginning. Taking into acount the larger scope of work on the MAX I don’t think Boeing have been more leisure than Airbus in the development and projected entry into service for the MAX versus the Airbus NEO.

      • Weren’t NEO and MAX mostly engine paced ?
        ( NEO more so than the MAX but still … )

        • Logically that would have to be the case!

          Otherwise they’d be having to call the NEOPALOOS (Plus A Load Of Other Stuff)

      • What it was going to look like ? Essentially they are cosmetic changes !

        If you want a real derivative you can look at the Tu 204, a B 757 sized plane which was shortened, ( 102 pax) wing modified AND engines moved from under wing to tail to produce TU 334.
        Now thats what I call a modification!

  4. There’s a lot that puzzles me about the idea of stretching the 737 again into 757 territory. For example, we’re told that the A340-600 was a dog because it gained so much weight due to the need to strengthen the over-long fuselage. Isn’t this going to happen with a 737-based 757 replacement? And isn’t that fuselage going to need so much modification that any grandfather rights will be lost? And lastly, are Airbus expected to watch slack jawed as this new challenger is developed? I could see them retaliating by re-winging and further stretching the A321.

    • Boeing did the 747-8 on the old cerfiticaion, I don’t say it right but they strecthc (pun intended) the legality to the breaking point.

      While I may more than agree a 737 super stret6ch is a belly full, if they are not ready with a new aircraft in that category then it may make sense as a short term measure. They will get criticized regardless and loose business as well. And keeping in mind that Muilenburg did not create the situation, its past management. This iteration of management is still a work in progress. And if it makes business sense then they should do it.

      Stay tuned, but first I had read or heard of any thoughts in that direction.

    • Using the A340-600 to make an assumption on the stretchability of the 737 is a bit far off, I think for two reasons:
      – Boeing has engineering and real life data to draw from the stretches as far as the 757-300. If it would be as easy as stretching the fusealage, this would be a no-brainer for Boeing. The problem is not the fusealage, “… but the short landing gear stops it [an higher grossweight, not even stretched 737-9] from achieving the necessary angle of attack to generate the necessary lift” (Bjorn, Part 2 of 757 replacement series) leading to further knock on changes.
      – When Airbus launched the A340-600, they did not anticipate that Boeing would really lauch the 777-300ER. Given that the A346 development budget was fairly low, and their concept was bettering the 747-200 and the 777-300 (non-ER), Airbus actually did a good job. They would probably have done things differently if they at the time knew that Boeing would not only do a good, but an incredible job, and in that case using their advantage of being the second mover.

      • And keep in mind that as part of lower cost the 777 actually has a 767 nose shape!

      • The A340-600 might have been a budget project, the Engine fuel consumption and shop costs killed it as the step to the 777-300ER ws too large. The initial A340 with CFM56-5C2’s was a bit underpowered “climbing like a DC-7” so they overdid it on the Trent500’s for the A340-500/-600. LH is normally involved in new Airbus four Engine Aircrafts hence their management at that time is part of the blame. The A350-900 is a different animal more like the A320 devlopment with big leaps in technology and performance.

        • I remember the DFC7! Hot stuff in the day.

          First time in a DC8, pilot cranked her up and going through 20k before you could blink, that was scary.

          Ahh the good old days before de-regulation when the planes were nice and trips were exciting.

    • This would be a long-time failure for sure. The 737 fuse is just not really the right awnser above 200 pax. It get’s longer and longer with a very high fitness ratio. Boarding times get though and you didn’t even have a (slightly) wider aisle. The pure concept is just not made for 240 pax and we’ll definitely see that. Furthermore you start with an aerodynamically sub-optimal concept. The burden may not be high but even 1% will make a difference over time.

      Such a plane could be very easily countered by Airbus with a A322 including a new wing. With the same tweaks a A32x could always sit above this 737 supermaxed thing in every aspect. There is now way they can avoid it because the A32x fuse would always be better prepared for a bigger wing and a further stretch. This is a dead-end road but I doubt they will ever do it anyway. Just with the A350MKI they will notice that Airlines won’t be willing to swallow it. Yes, it would have some life as a charter and low-cost plane but that’s it. The potential is limited. And Boeing needs it to buils SOME pressure on the A33x too.

      Better to re-engine the 757 and make some twists (I know the tooling is gone).

      • The 757-300 with 55 built did not find much use.
        ( only for being inefficient to turn around ?)

        I would not be overly surprised if Boeing tries to X the 737.
        The Boeing products portfolio is/was dominated by expansive waypoint ugrades to existing product ( certificationwise assisted by grandfathering to various degrees : 737, 767, 747, 777 . only frame that seems to have fallen by the wayside is the 757, the 787 is not old enough )

      • “Just with the A350MKI they will notice that Airlines won’t be willing to swallow it. ”

        The airlines didn’t swallowed the A350 MK1 in first place but now many airlines are quite happy with the A330NEO.

        • The A350Mk1 was carefully assassinated to the benefit of Boeing.
          How many orders did the Mk1 have when it was “reformed” ?
          Take the CFRP High away and ..

          • I thought it was the other way round, certain big buyers wanted a larger plane so as it more closely matched the 777 and thus takeaway Boeings monopoly/advantage in that size class.
            And so the 350 got an XWB to make it happen. Boeings response was to make there 777X bigger again ( for the 777-9) but it essentially killed their 747-8I.

          • Two different markets.

            The biggest critic is now buying A330NEO and saying it will sell 1000 (which I don’t) so take the experts for what they are worth

      • Dare100em

        That gets deep into the engineering aspects that I certainly am not remotely qualified to answer.

        The real breakdown is.
        1. Is it feasible engineering wise
        2. Can it be sold for a profit
        3. Can Airbus respond?

        I don’t think the fuselage itself is much more than a wash.
        The A320 series has a bit of advantage in cargo handling and a tad of width (but there is also a drag price though not high)

        So Boeings choice is to do nothing or put out the best product they can (if possible) that is competitive.

        An all new Aircraft is hugely expensive and right now there is no known technological leap that would justify that (and you have to look at fuel prices down the road as well)

        Personally I think it would be pretty cool if Boeing could pull that rabbit out of the hat.

        And Airbus has to look at it on the basis is it worth a response or do they accept Boeing operators will buy it but not their operators?

        I.e. do they really need to or can they make money now, do well latter with as is.

        They still have the A320 match to the 737MAX8 to consider.

        If Boeing comes up with a near match to the A321 that is not a category killer Airbus would be justified staying pat.

        Certainly is interesting. Boeings customers will tell a large part of the story.

        With the 737-9 for future uptick in sizes they would be nicely positioned if they can make it work.

  5. The 747-100 was about 11 months from first flight to delivery, which should put the MAX on target for the end of this year if the smart phone can keep pace with a slide rule.

    • “11month.”

      With the complexity and integration issues and the large design teams associated with new frames you’ll never see that again IMHO.

  6. I would not draw any conclusions yet about the 77X. From what I heard, several engineers say there are too many cooks in the kitchen “leaving their mark” then leaving. Especially over-promising on schedule. Not surprisingly many of the same management from 787 is now on the X and mismanaging it the same way. The MAX wasn’t sexy enough for those terrible managers, hence it is doing well.

  7. To be ahead of time at EIS is one thing, to produce enough is another one.
    For both manufacturers, the biggest problem is to manage the production overlap of two generations of planes and at the same time increase the production rate. Airbus has still an advance of more than one year but at the end we’ll see how they finally have managed the whole thing. On Boeing, it’s too early to be optimistic. As financial analysts say : neutral opinion.

  8. Airbus has two well-designed, optimised aluminium fuselages in the A320 and the A300/A330. In response to a larger 737MAX derivative – maxed out with an all new, larger wing –
    Airbus could IMJ respond by developing a common, all new composite wing for both a larger A325X single-aisle series and a short range wide-body series (e.g. A310-900X).

    The wing areas of the A320 and 737 are about 125m2. In contrast, the wing areas for the 757 and A310 are about 185m2 and 220m2, respectively. It seems to me, therefore, that a a short range wide-body, based on the A330/A330 fuselage, having a longer and more slender wing than the wing on the 757 – while having about the same wing area – could be designed using the same wing as that of a longer range single aisle, derived from the A320-series. Such a wing could have about the same wingspan as that of the wing on the A310-200/300, and should have folding wing tips in order to allow the short range wide-body to be compatible with the same ICAO Category C (< 36 m) code as that of the single aisles. However, the outer main gear wheel span would probably slightly exceed the 6m (19.7') – <9m (29.5') requirment for Category C. The A32o-derived larger single aisle and longer ranged aircraft would have a slightly shorter wingspan – roughly equaling the difference in the fuselage diameters, or about 1.6m.

    It's interesting to ponder, though, on the ramifications of short range wide-bodies operating out of existing single aisle aircraft stands. At least, ICAO would have to amend Annex 14* (i.e. categories based on aircraft overall length & maximum fuselage width). 🙂

    *ICAO Annex 14
    Cat 5: 24m < L ≤ 28m, fuselage Ø < 4m
    Cat 6: 28m < L ≤ 39m, fuselage Ø < 5m
    Cat 7: 39m < L ≤ 49m, fuselage Ø < 5m
    Cat 8: 49m < L ≤ 61m, fuselage Ø < 7m

    • Addendum

      Airbus could develop all new nose sections, derived from the A350 nose section – and an identical cockpit design as that of the A350 cockpit – for both an A310-900X short range wide-body and a larger and longer ranged A325X single aisle aircraft. The next step up (i.e. post 2025) could be a next generation A32Xneo-series (i.e. A319-800, A320-800, A321-800), modified with the new A325X cockpit section and powered by RR UltraFan-type engines – leading to, at least, a 10 percent reduction in fuel burn over that of the current baseline.

      • Addendum 🙂

        A next generation A32Xneo-series could possibly be re-winged by an all new composite wing, using out-of-autoclave methods in the manufacturing of a composite wingbox.

    • I don’t see any interest in Airbus in doing this. The MOM is named that for a reason, Airbus has the two aircraft that bound this market in A321neo and A330-800. They stand to gain any orders existing in this middle area.

      It is for Boeing to make the running and any Max stretch would be countered by an A322 very easily. So long as Airbus has the ‘least worst’ option they will win orders.

      • @Sowerbob

        Airbus would obviously not move first as the A321neo appears to have essentially locked up the 200-plus-seat single aisle market for the next decade. Thus, I’m talking about the options available post 2025 and how Airbus could kill two birds with one stone by developing one common wing shared by both a longer range single aisle aircraft and a high capacity wide-body. Hence, they could have both a large single aisle A325X, straddling the A321neo and A330-800 capacity gap, and an A310-900X that would provide the same capacity as the A330-800, but optimised for short range (i.e. way lower MTOW).

        BTW, this concept would be similar in scope to the joint development of the 757/767 undertaken by Boeing in the late ’70s, early ’80s.

        Although this may sound like the 737 and 757 replacement conundrum faced by Boeing today, it is, in fact, the scenario that challenged the company almost 40 years ago. In the 1970s Boeing was grappling with how to replace the 727 and at the same time counter the emerging threat of the Airbus A310, the first derivative of the A300 family.

        In a curious parallel to the situation today, Boeing’s market analysis for filling the 180-300-seat gap in the 1970s indicated that although the two requirements overlapped, it was too difficult to meet them both with a single-fuselage cross-section aircraft. A single aisle worked better for the lower end, but did not stretch very well. A twin aisle worked better for the upper end, but equally did not shrink well. As a result, for almost six years in the 1970s, the company exhaustively studied two concepts: a single-aisle twin dubbed the 7N7 and a widebody twin called the 7X7.

        Most observers at the time believed Boeing would develop one or the other but not both, at least not immediately. It was therefore with some surprise that between 1978-79, over a period of less than eight months, the company ambitiously began the simultaneous development of both aircraft. The 7X7 became the 767 in July 1978, while the 757, formerly the 7N7, received the production go-ahead the following March.

        • Simultaneous development is quite appealing, but has a couple of flaws. If you develop 2 planes, you don’t get to benefit from the learnings of what would have been the first one. You would get a big wave of investment followed by a big hole in which the engineer’s either get sacked or forget all the problems that they had with the last plane. At the end of the planes lifespan there is the problem of block obsolescence.Any big gap in the development conveyor belt is great for short-term investors, but bad for the long-term future of the company. Both A+B are making worrying statements about taking a break, although I’m not sure if they really mean it.

          • @grubbie

            Please do keep in mind that we’re not talking about two all new planes, merely one new wing (+ 2 new MLGs, etc.) – or similar in scope to a superMAX re-using the cockpit, fuselage and empennage section of the 737MAX – and an added bonus of one extra plane for a relatively small extra price.

            I wouldn’t necessarily assume that after having finished the devlopment programmes, there would be any big gap in the development conveyor belt at Airbus. As I’ve already indicated, Airbus could proceed with a true next generation A320neo+ as described in the comment above. In the 2030 timeframe, A330-800/900 could be replaced with similar sized A350-600Xs/A350-700Xs – or shorter body derivatives of the A350-900, re-winged with a smaller and lighter A330-sized wing (i.e. wing area about the same as the A330/787 wings; or 360m2-370m2 vs. some 440m2 for the A350-900).

        • “BTW, this concept would be similar in scope to the joint development of the 757/767 undertaken by Boeing in the late ’70s, early ’80s.”

          757 and 767 started out as distinct developements. “common cockpit” and a bit of join up was IMU late addon to the project.
          (Aero)Structure wise they are rather different.

          • @Uwe

            The term “similar in scope” was meant in reference to the joint, or simultaneous development of the 757/767. Of course, the 757 and 767 are very different aerostructure-wise – different fuselages/wings etc.

  9. I suspect Boeing are testing the waters for a 737-9 derived MOM as they could well be worried about running out of development cash and good credit options.

    Airbus tend to keep things close to their chest, I wonder if they have a MOM plan, they should be better off cash and resource wise in three years or so as current projects finish and start to bring in real cash.

    • I don’t think there is any doubt Boeing is testing the waters though I suspect its not wanted it public arena.

      Any sane operation should see if it can function with what they have vs all new, what do you have all new and what does it offer and what is the cost comparison and profit potential.

      The reality is that in order to succeed, it can’t cost any more than an A320 variant (unless all new offers some spectacular returns and we have seen that’s in the 10% increment range.

      And can you afford to have to wait until you build 2 or 3000 of the airframes in order to get and ROI? 787 is in the 1000+ now and that’s bad enough.

      Airbus has to balance their response vs what is on their plate and it may be that no response would be the result. If they wanted to do a killer move they would have done an all new wing (or one each for the A320 and A321) and did not.

      They have a leg up with a good market share with the A321, if they lost some of it they would not be hurt. Boeing is being hurt badly there.

      Both A and B will have coneceptua8l plans going, Airbus is probably putting more into research after Boeing caught them flat footed on the all composite tech end.

      I do think Boeing continues to have the edge in wing technology. On anything new they are no longer going with winglets, its the cranked wing design (which they7 also used on the P-8 but that aircraft has a different ops profile than the 737)

      Airbus is just starting the use of Winglets (I am not sure wing fences count as a true Winglet but could be wrong).

  10. Just how easy is it to bolt a brand new carbon wing to a decades old aluminium fuselage without lots of ugly compromises? New wings, engines, undercarriage and systems, why not just do a new coke can as well.
    It’s a bit of a pivotal moment for production technology, whatever you go with now you’re stuck with for 20 years. This is why A&B are so reluctant to jump.

    • If the engineering is done right its not a huge issue.

      The problem is the so called coke can adds another 1/3 or better to the situation not to mention at that point its all new equipment (MAX still has a lot of legacy switches in the overhead panel)

      Also all new is vastly more test costly than a (ahem) derivative

      Does the current low fuel price justify a 757-200NEO? And how much cost to bring that back into production?

      Boeing has just denied it but there obviously are studies and engineering work having been and being done to see what might work.

      And I frankly think its still two distinct markets, there appears to be at least some MOM, but I don’t think its the same as the A321/757-200.

      So Boeing still needs something in that slot and badly. Its the biggest deficit they have (neither one is doing good with the VLA thing)

  11. I think the meat of the market is 200 seats for one to three hour flights. Economy, plus an assortment of premium seats. The A321 is not big enough for this. Better to just go with a new design that is slightly longer than the A321. A 2-2-2 with single axle gear and folding wingtips has some product differentiation and carve out its own niche.

    • This segment is totally cost driven (price and maint).

      Unless there is a large untapped market, new aircraft could.d easily get killed by competition.

      Aircraft has to sell at something like 50 million, that impossible with all new (at least in under 10 years)

      Back to can you get away with a lot less? and fuel use is not the huge driver now it was (sometime down the road maybe but for sure not 5 years and even then easily under $60 a barrel I think)

      • I only see this working if the market changes fundamentally. The B787 killer app is the long thin routes it is carving out, it has effectively revolutionised the manner in which wide body aircraft are used.

        Presumably we could have exactly the same market change for (ahem) ‘long short haul’ ie we are looking at long thin routes within the short haul model.

        I think we are seeing the stretching of capability of smaller aircraft all the time. The LCC in Europe are now pushing more and more 4+ hour flights.

        Trouble is that you can deliver these flights in many different ways and as has been pointed out above it is very difficult to charge a premium for a design that will be only marginally more capable or efficient

        • “The B787 killer app is the long thin routes it is carving out, it has effectively revolutionised the manner in which wide body aircraft are used.”

          Is this really the case? ( in a dominating way of use that is )

          • I agree, there doesnt seem to be any significant numbers of ‘new’ long thin routes for the 787, mostly its existing 767-300 and 777-200 routes changing over.
            My local airline on the pacific rim has 787s but recent new long thin routes to Texas, Vietnam and Argentina have used 767 and 777.
            This reference to ‘killer app’ is just a buzz word and the rest is Boeing marketing speak.

          • The long thin route argument has in fact been happening for quite a while, DC10 and L1011 where launched on th same logic, and the 757s and 767s replaced a lot of 707s and DC8s in places where anything larger wasn’t justified. Boeing just used a known fact as a PR tool.

        • Maybe I have overplayed my hand as I heard ‘long thin’ first in respect of the a340 (pre ETOPS domination). I still think it has validity but concede that as has been pointed out the b787 has slotted in to whatever route network already exists. At the same time I believe there is evidence of increased city pairs being linked as a result and although other aircraft nay be used on some (horses for courses) this is the raison d’être of the b787. Perhaps I should have added that in my view the use of single aisle planes on relatively long segments is a key feature I am seeing from my own experience

  12. This is a bit off topic since I cannot access the paysite.
    With the Zika virus affecting global travels, airlines flying to affected countries are seeing a lot of cancelations. Just wonder what effect will hat have on operators who operated a380 on those routes.
    Emirates comes to mind.

    • As far as I know, Emirates is not operating the A380 on any routes to South America.

    • If you lose n% of paying passengers for whatever reason you lose n% of paying passengers. FullStop.
      Except for A380 passengers cancelling at a higher rate than others I see no logical foundation for your question.

      • I think its a reasonable question.

        He is not making a foundation but putting it forth as a question.

        New guy learning.

        Maybe better put how will it affect all aircraft but its also relevant to the A380 as they are a restricted market and if the Zita gets into its markets it would become non-viable fast.

  13. One issue missing in all this discussion is the flight control architecture. IMHO, FBW spoilers are not enough in the modern era. The next Boeing aircraft for the 250 PAX market must have full FBW controls. No modification of existing 737 architecture can do that. Let us face it. 737 is an antiquated design – fuselage, landing gear, flight controls … Boeing would be wise to come up with an unbeatable modern design. The question is whether the market justifies the huge cost and risk. If it does, can Boeing do it, given the financial disasters 787 and 747-8 are? I hope it can.

    • Hi Kant,

      there is nothing wrong with Boeing’s capability to afford a new design. Look at the stock buy-back it is doing with the free cash it generates. Boeing is strong, it is more a matter of how to create shareholder value, drive the stock up via buy-backs or invest in a larger share of the market. I would be really surprised if Boeing would do yet another iteration/investment in the 737 fuselage (kind of a MAX 10). But if they do it must have a new or at least extended wing with a different landing gear. That might break the grandfathering of the original certification. If so then we are looking at a LOT of changes as many parts of the 737 is not built to modern certification standards. Introducing FBW to all axis could then make sense as it eases fixing of flight dynamic quirks that one detects. But then the empennage is just way to large and so on, avionics integration consumes manhours en masse etc. It’s a can of worms that get opened.

      • At about 150′, the new aircraft would seem to share more in common with the 707 fuselage than the original 94′ 737 certificate, if the wings and engines are all different anyway.

        • Bjorn:

          This is not intended as a smart aleck question, I am confused though.

          What is the difference between a Max10 with an all new wing and a 747-8 and the 777X both with all new wings?

          Not agreeing that Airbus or Boeing should be able to put out extensively modified aircraft that way but is the possible -10 really any different than what’s been done before?

          • Hi Transworld,

            there is a bit of a difference between the 748 and 777X. A MAX makeover would have many similarities to the 748 makeover, a very old design (conventional controls, old system architecture) and Boeing might even tinker with modifying the wing like it did the 748 (with not so good result). The 777-300ER which is the base for 777X has a modern system architecture (FBW, modern systems and avionics) and Boeing does a deep makeover, in consequence it cost quite a bit and it takes 5 years. Not sure a 737 fuselage for a MAX 10 warrant that, hence it might be a 748 like route with many unknown unknowns.

          • Bjorn,

            Thank you, thoughts on the 747-8 wing?

            I thought it worked well?

            Or just in the sense it was not and could not be enough to compete with the A380?

            Ergo unknown unknowns and a murky thing to tackle?

            I would refer to it as the cascade affect.

  14. This is also a bit off topic, but it may seem as if the latest “news” from Dubai has largely been passed over by industry pundits.

    Increasing capacity constraints at DXB and 18 million additional passengers over that of the previously slated cap of 100 million passengers – from just a few years ago – is pretty significant. I would not be surprised, therefore, if Emirates is considering deferring the 777-8/-9 order for 150 frames until at least 2025 – when the phase 1 of the expansion project at the Al Maktoum Internationa Airport (DWC) is finished – and that Emirates would order an additional 150 A380-800 instead. 😉

    Assuming an average of 150 extra passengers per flight over that of the 77W/779, and an average daily aircraft utilisation of two flights per aircraft, Emirates would be able to handle an additional 16.5 million passengers per year by upgrading to A380s. If they were to take 25 A380s per year from 2018 – the last one (of 290 A380s ordered) would arrive sometime in 2024, or just before the phase 1 of the DWC expansion project is planned to be completed.

    Dubai: Dubai International is to be expanded to handle 118 million passengers a year by 2023, 18 million more than the previously slated cap of 100 million passengers, Dubai Airports’ Chief Executive told Gulf News on Monday.

    The decision to increase capacity has been taken as an “insurance policy” against any possibility of a delay in the expansion of Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), Paul Griffiths said in an interview at Dubai International.

    “If we cap DXB [Dubai International] in 2020 at 100 million [passenger] that would potentially be five years before there would be any further growth … that would be an unacceptable situation to plateau and allow other airports to get ahead,” he said

    The extra 18 million in passenger capacity to be found at Dubai International by 2023 is largely to come from a technology and streamlining processes rather than building new terminals, Griffiths said. This includes a target to increase aircraft landings and take-offs to between 40 and 41 an hour in peak periods, up from 36 to 37 today.

    Emirates, the biggest airline at Dubai International, is likely to welcome the plans to further expand the airport. It has previously warned of increasing congestion at Dubai International, something that it fears could choke its own growth.

    “We’ve created that buffer capacity at DXB to allow continual growth here because what we don’t want to do is get into a situation where there is no more airport capacity to allow Emirates to continue to grow. And as an insurance policy in case there is a delay of producing DWC Phase Two,” Griffiths said.

    Also on Monday, Dubai Airports said Dubai International passenger numbers grew in 2015 by 10.7 per cent to 78.01 million. Next year, Griffiths is forecasting around 89 million passengers despite a gloomy global economic outlook due to a slowing down in China and the weakening oil price.

    • Please, no further stretch of the max with new wing/wingbox and landing gear. The fuselage is just too darn narrow. Designed in the 1950s for a world of thinner people (especially USA) and greater seat pitch than typical now. (the DC-8 was all 38″ and not variable because of the large single window per row.)

      A new single aisle “needs” to be 12″ (30 cm) or so wider making it 5″ wider than the A-320 family giving B the comfort (seat/aisle width) advantage. (Though it would make the 787 at 9 abreast and 777 at 10 abreast look bad!)

      This costs a lot to do but with two wing sizes (more cost of course) could cover 150 to 250 pax with with wide range of optimum ranges.

      Beside cost, and running the company for the short to mid term benefit of shareholders, the argument against this may be that technology developments like blended wing body might obsolete it too soon.

      Well, probably the max will be it for a good while!

  15. I will reserve a congratulation to Boeing for actual 737 MAX delivery on time. If recent experience means anything that can not b assumed at this stage. Let’s not pull forward the rewards of success.

  16. Thanks or the comments about Boeing’s project management.

    IMJ the 787 problem was business ethics. Some suppliers performed badly and obstructed as much as produced (even one who had performed well decades ago), some Boeing managers were troubled as well. And Boeing executives were in Polyanna mode or worse, despite a prominent article in Boeing’s publications explaining how the military division botched the Wedgetail program.

    (Wedgetail is the 737 surveillance airplane for Australia, the customer who publicly criticized Boeing in the city of its largest military customer – Washington DC. On both programs, Boeing exemplified Richard Fenyman’s maxim: “The easiest person to fool is yourself.”)

    A potential supplier might be wise to learn which suppliers are already on a program and what their reputation is, as well as what Boeing executives are running a program, then factor that into their decision to bid or not (especially if asked to invest in the program by one means or another).

    • “Some suppliers performed badly and obstructed as much as produced”

      “(even one who had performed well decades ago), ”

      “some Boeing managers were troubled as well.”

      You don’t make the proper logic connections and imho put unfair blame on suppliers.

      The 787 was a headless project.
      Boeing fantastically botched the only job they had set themselves: Coordinator/Integrator.
      … and they did not have to invent this kind of project workflow. Airbus had prior art to no end on this.

      Taking things back home indicates that this lesson is still unmastered in Chicago or in Seattle.

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