NMA “important step” for Boeing, says leading lessor

John Plueger, CEO of Air Lease Corp. Photo via Google images.

March 9, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Proceeding with a New Mid-range Airplane (NMA) is “an important step for Boeing,” says the CEO of one of the world’s preeminent leasing companies. On the other hand, Airbus probably is covered in the Middle of the Market sector.

John Plueger, CEO of Air Lease Corp, agrees with Airbus claims that it has the MOM sector covered.

“From Airbus’ perspective, I think that’s true,” he said in an interview with LNC during the ISTAT annual general meeting in San Diego this week. “I don’t think they feel they have a gap. They’re quite happy with the A321neo. The success of that airplane speaks for itself. They’ve got the A330neo. It would be very easy for them to just do a lighter weight version of the A330neo and whack $7m to $10m off the price of that airplane to compete.

“The question is whether operators will need the range of the neo in that equation,” he said.

“I also think…they are looking at modifying the wing for the A321 possibly even a new wing, which could increase the performance capability of that airplane significantly. For the Airbus product line, I would agree, I don’t think there is a need.”

Boeing’s product gap

Plueger was not as sanguine about Boeing.

“For the Boeing product line, I think there is a gap. It’s probably fair [to say the Boeing gap is from the 737-8 to the 787-9].”

Does Boeing have to do the NMA?

“I think it’s an important step for Boeing. The issue is one of cost. With all the talk about NMA, what is really boils down to is price,” he said. “That will determine whether the airplane sells 5,000 units, or 3,000 or whatever. That’s something the engine manufacturers have to know pretty shortly.

“I think the whole effort can be produced at a point that makes sense.”

LCC, ULCC market potential

Plueger believes a potential market for the NMA is the Low Cost Carrier and Ultra LCC sector. Norwegian Air Shuttle and AirAsiaX already are using Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s for long-haul LCC service. Legacy airlines are planning their own LCCs to compete. Others, including Norwegian and Lion Air, are experimenting with long haul, single-aisle service with the forthcoming Boeing 737-8 and Airbus A321neo.

“The LCC’s have to have ultra-low pricing or it will not compete with what they already have on 788/9 or A338/9 or A321/B738,” Plueger said.

“The next step will be for LCCs and ULCCs. It’s probably too expensive at this time, but when you stop and think about it, those carriers tend to be constantly up-gauging in size. They’ve gone to the A321neo. “If they could get it cheap enough, which I question, it’s not just the legacy carriers, but there’s an opportunity for the LCCs. For the first time, they would enter a small twin-aisle.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but if you look out 10-15 years, you could see a type that could be a game-changer in the LCC space. Again, only if it is priced aggressively.”

83 Comments on “NMA “important step” for Boeing, says leading lessor

  1. Hmm, so a customer’s point of view is that Airbus more or less have the right product line-up, whereas Boeing are going to have to spend serious money. Ouch.

    • I wouldn’t take what Plueger says with much more thana grain of salt.

      “t would be very easy for them to just do a lighter weight version of the A330neo and whack $7m to $10m off the price of that airplane to compete.”

      I dont see that as being an NMA solution at all. The A330 NEO already has new wingtips and pylons as well as all new engines. They’re looking more at HGW versions of the NEO. You can’t make an ageing airframe competitively lighter for NMA. Thats not going to happen imo. I would say that Airbus are also loooking at a brand new aircraft for NMA but might take a reactive approach to Boeing given that the pressure is on them.

      As for the A321, a reeinged version of that is possible I would agree and would be a sensible apprach if they want to beat Boeing to a new NMA and apply serious pressure.

      • Should be “As for the A321, a * rewinged version of that is possible”

      • Airbus could switch to Al-Li for the A330SL (sport leicht) body and make a more slender and lighter A330neo wing with fuel for 4500nm. They make a lighter wingbox by extra machining and keep the wing root but then outside of the Engine attachment make a more slender wing. The advantage is that the A330ceo/neo has so much goodies from the beginning (LD3, FBW, carbon brakes, and GE might want to be on this one with a GE9Xified CF6-80E2 as most likely they will let RR and PWA fight it out on the 797)

        • Sounds like a new plane. Airbus can get away with a rewinged A321/22 bur an ageing rewinged A330 cant compete with a reciprocal response on the 787. I just dont think its a good strategy, not to mention its the wrong plane for NMA for me. I see NMA as being 757 territory.

          • The 787 disadvantage is cost. That is why the 787-3 never made it even though being the ultimate MoM. It is also about seating, there is a big gap between A321neo and the A330-900, Boeing will target this gap. The Boeing 797 body will be close to a A330 body but Al-Li, they will have a new and slender wing and 40k engines but it will take time and cost to get to market. Airbus could do the A330SL and use the A330ceo derivative engines that is lighter and cheaper than the Trent7000. Also doing the A322 with a new wing and 37k engines. That will close the gap from above and below at low cost to airbus. By Paris air show we will know more.

          • There is a MOM plane with slightly wider fuselage than A320, carbon fibre wing and fly by wire controls.
            Just it isnt made by Airbus or Boeing. LNR has extensively profiled this plane. Its the Russian Irkut MC21
            It just needs to be assembled and supported in the west by Bombardier or Embraer or even one of those supported by the japanese airframer Kawasaki.

          • @dukeofurl. I agree the MC-21 has some benefits, too bad it will have too short range and take too few pax. Mitsubishi who has the cash might take it over, stretch it and have the Russians make a bigger wing to get a A321neo LR range.

        • “The 787 disadvantage is cost. That is why the 787-3 never made it even though being the ultimate MoM”

          Reads as “the 787-3 ..ultimate MOM except it wasnt and couldn’t have been”. Thats the problem, price is everything. All the talk about lower opex means exactly squat if capex is still too high. It has to be only modestly more expensive and bring significant opex savings. And can you do that with a twin aisle? Without being a watered down A330?
          Because if you cant it wont compete at the low end with a single aisle plane, and if its not cheaper than an A330 CEO then whats the point in buying less plane for more money?

          Boeing have a handful deciding the next move here and for me its certainly not a given that they’ll go the 767 route. Could be 757-esque.
          The 787 was designed in part to replace the 767. I really dont see them making another twin aisle plane amy time soon.

          Boeing laready made the right move in soft launching the 737-10 Max. I dont see anything new coming out right now except A321 NEO LR possible A322 NEO, and 737 Max 10. It would be dumb for Boeing to do otherwise. They’re making the right move here.

          NMA: A322NEO LR, 737 Max 10 (I believed this will be a significantly modified Max 9), maybe just maybe A330-800 regional type. Even more maybe: 787-3 (more of a stripped down 787-8)

          • NMA: A321NEO LR, 737 Max 10 (I believed this will be a significantly modified Max 9), maybe just maybe A330-800 regional type. Even more maybe: 787-3 (more of a stripped down 787-8)

  2. “Priced aggressively” sounds like it would require the significant majority of orders in the space, making this a winner takes all for the first mover and negating reasons for waiting for step change technology a little further out. Is this the sort of way you see it Scott?

    • @Woody: Airbus could launch the “A322” for two or three billion dollars and get it to market quicker than Boeing could do a 220-seat “797-8.” So the lower end of the market can be covered.

      The upper end is a problem. We don’t see the A330-200/800, even a “light-weight” one, as a solution.

      • @Scott: could you do an article at some point about how airlines actually make money?

        The obvious top level is charge more than it costs. But for example this article mentions saving $10m on purchase price. That works out as $1,300 a day (20 year lifespan). Are airlines so close to losing money that this really matters?

        • @Roger: Most of the US airlines don’t make money selling tickets, but post the profits on ancillary fees. This is probably generally true for most non-US carriers now.

        • @Roger: The relevant question is not how much money the airlines are making, but instead whether it’s worth it to spend $10 million more on a 797 vs. the next-best alternative.

          First note that the airplane is not in service anywhere close to 100% of days and that you need to take into account the financing cost (either explicitly because the money is borrowed, or implicitly because of the opportunity cost of funds now tied up in an airframe). With those factors, the $10 million cost difference becomes at least $2,000 per actual operating day.

          Suppose it burns around 14,000 gal of fuel on a typical operating day (the equivalent of operating an A320neo for about 20 flight hours). At current fuel prices this is about $21,000 of fuel, so the 797 would need a ~10% fuel burn advantage (per ASM) over its competitor aircraft.

          Is this feasible against the A321neo? My guess is not since the twin-aisle 797 is starting at a disadvantage in terms of wetted area. I’m sure it’s not remotely feasible against a re-winged A322 with mid-2020s engines.

          • @Mike: Comparing one plane versus another is understood, including a desire to minimise costs. But the big picture is being left out (how airlines actually make money). For example if this $10m is included in the context of operating the plane for 20 years, and over that time the costs to the airline (crewing, maintenance, landing fees, gate agents, fuel, water, overflight fees, HR department, ramp operations, marketing etc etc) is $500m then we are talking 2%.

            Is 2% significant? The $10m will also have brought some benefits too (lighter means less fuel and fees, less maintenance?) which also haven’t been accounted for.

            Ultimately if the price of planes is 1% of an airline’s costs then this is tweaking very small things compared to the others. If it is 40% then every little bit helps. But without knowing how airlines actually make money in the big picture, it is hard to understand the context of another $10m on the purchase price.

          • @Roger Over the last five years, UAL has made $10 billion of net profits. Assuming a 20-year aircraft lifespan, on average they need to replace just over 300 aircraft during a 5-year period. So you’re advocating that they should spend an extra $3 billion on aircraft (i.e. an extra $10 million per aircraft), which is equal to 30% of their total profits, because…why?

          • @Mike that is a mischaracterisation! Firstly there has to be some benefit to the extra price, otherwise the manufacturer may as well place a hood ornament on there and charge for it instead. The benefit would have to be somewhat comparable to the cost.

            What I have been fishing for is putting all this in the context of how an airline overall makes money. I’m not too sure UAL is the best role model but the numbers do put it in some context – spending $10m more on *every* one of 300 planes for the next 5 years dents profits by 30%. Doing it for some of the planes seems closer to not making that much difference!

          • @Roger Honestly I don’t understand where you’re going with this now. Yes, $10 million is “only” half a percent of UAL’s profits in an average year, so why should the shareholders really care? But by that argument management would do much better by just awarding itself $10 million in bonuses, since the shareholders apparently don’t care.

            The real question is whether the 797 brings enough operating efficiencies to the table to justify a >$10 million price premium. For the hypothetical case of a “797-8” vs an “A322”, the answer is pretty clearly no. Maybe it would be yes for a “797-9”, since that would have no obvious direct competitor.

          • @Mike apologies for not being clear. What I’ve been fishing for is the bigger picture financial context for the whole airline. I don’t know the best perspective hence asking experts. For example maybe costs per passenger mile is the best way of looking at the finances of an airline, and the proportion of those costs attributable to plane prices shows how sensitive airlines are to price changes.

            It is also worth noting that this isn’t only about the planes costing $10m more – they are also lighter as a benefit. Maybe that just means they can carry heavier belly cargo, or a reduction in fuel, maintenance, flight and landing fees etc.

            Delta just spent $229m on refurbishment at LAX including private lounges. That is 4% of their most recent record annual profit, spent at one airport. I’m not debating this, but it does show the airlines do spend big money, and more than they strictly need to. The big picture financial context is what helps put everything in perspective.

      • Thanks Scott.

        Not even a rewinged A330?

        For the upper end, given “priced aggressively” implies slim margins / large volumes, coupled with the sort of volume of frames being mentioned, do you see any way a second entrant with an all new design could ever hope to recoup costs, let alone meet their own IRR or investors expected ROI? Basically, winner takes all for the first mover.

        • The A330neo has a structure for a 7,200nm airplane. Even if the 200/800 is “dumbed down,” the basic structure can’t be changed.

          • You could machine off more Alu off the stringers and wingbox structures, skin thickness is too expensive to change but a change to Al-Li is perhaps doable, The you would thin down the wing and wingbox inboard of the pylon, use the A340 3:rd landing gear space for additional center tank and design a new slender wing outboard of the pylon with total fuel for 4500nm. The Airbus UK wing designers need something to do after the A330neo and A350-1000. The question is which airframe to modify to the A330SL, the A330neo or A330ceo. It is easier to high speed machine off mass than add it. You also want it to last min 50 000 cycles, this might require more Ti 6-4 and carbon fiber and hence drive cost. Airbus might have some numbers by Paris Air Show.

          • “.. use the A340 3:rd landing gear space for additional center tank and design..”

            Why would you increase tankage in a place that competes with payload for supporting structure?
            ( then not long ago you could tanker the A330 down to zero payload 🙂

          • Using this space on the A330SL close to A/C center of gravity for fuel makes the new wing tanks even smaller and allows more aerodynamic, lighter and slender wings plus a thinned our lighter wingbox. Airbus must reduce empty mass by carving out metal and 3D print parts everywhere to make it as light it needs to be and to take the loads from the cycling. Many will use it during morning and afternoon rush hour doing 1-3hr jumps that a”normal” widebody cannot take for very long. It applies to the Engines as well. Boeing has to wait for new durable 40k Engines for their 797, just remember the 757 initial Engine problems as it was cycled like above.

          • There’s always the question of fuselage length/width ratio, with [compromises]. For example, A310 body too wide for optimum drag but tooling already in place as just shorter A300.

            Perhaps the A32x and 737-10 are too narrow for length but tooling already in place.

            I expect Boeing will review what is optimum for MOM as they did before launching 767, though paying more attention to baggage container commonality.

            Growth provision is a question, 767 over-winged because it was intended to support much heavier airplanes for longer range (that does have advantages and disadvantages).

      • Agree fully… And the new wing could be retro-fit back through the 321/320 on increasing their worth even further.

        Make door 2 a boarding door on the a321/322 and you got easier boarding also.

        As for the a330… Nothing wrong with that air frame that can’t be dealt with through cost vs. shrink vs. Al-Li etc. It’s got the birth.

        Airbus should only spend money on making their current products fit new market’s, and not make the same mistakes on another airframe.

        Love the mention of a new wing from the lessor ? whoop!!!

      • Scott, I agree that the upper end of mid-market (upper mid-market?) is the problem for Airbus.

        But what’s the potential for this sub-segment? If Airbus were to launch the A322 and grab the lion’s share of revenues for the lower mid-market, does the upper mid-market still have enough potential for the NMA to make financial sense?

        To me the NSA is still the right solution: the new aircraft needs to cover not only the upper mid-market but also down to the 738 level.

        • We have yet run the numbers on the potential for the low end. Published reports have Boeing saying the entire MOM sector is 4,000-5,000 and the NMA potential 2,000-3,0000 after giving Airbus A321 and A330 share.

          • If the A330 is in that group, so too is the 787.
            boeing wants to homestead a market from above A321 to below 788 and A33(2,8)

          • @UWE: LNC has already declared the 787-8 done. Boeing is clear it really doesn’t want to build the airplane, focusing on the 789 and 781. No deliveries of 788 (to speak of) after 2020.

  3. The A321neo needs to be re-winged to gain more range. The LR version is going to be a complete dog, it’s cheap and cheerful design with Tanks in the cargo bay will cause operators all sorts of reliability problems and in-flight diversions or turn backs.
    This will be no quick turn around plane, refuel times will be poor against equivalent types. Unfortunately airlines think they are going to get a good plane, wait until it arrives.

    • I agree on the A321LR as a bit of a dog, very small niche.

      • As Uwe already said: Aux tanks in the A320 family aren’t a new thing.
        Regarding the A321neo LR being “a bit of a dog” – sounds a bit like wishful thinking, considering the A321neo and A321neo LR are the reason the 737-9 (and proposed -10) aren’t doing all that well and Boeing has thus been considering whether or not to do an NMA for a while now.

        Now – how small is that niche?
        Norwegian ordered 30, as did ALC, JetBlue has conversion rights (as I’m sure do others), a few others, including SAS, are looking at it. So they’re in or around ~100 orders. A bit less than 10% of all A321neo sales so far.
        If only 10% of the total A321neo deliveries are going to be A321neo LR, Airbus are going to be happy even before considering that the LR prompted the (costlier) 737-10 as well as continuous speculation about a new Boeing NMA.

        • Probably bad terminology , more an outlier without lots of sales.

          On the other hand not that much to make it so the more you can sell with minimal upgrade is all profit.

          Like the other LR types, just not a major market for long and few, some but not big.

    • But it does not matter. There will be no alternatives for at least another 10 yrs so….

      • Why would the builders make a nice noose for the LCC to hang them with.
        Boeing currently sells 1 months worth out of the 12 months production to Ryanair alone. They wouldnt make much money.
        Much better to have a plane that they can make money with for the standard carriers and let the LCC make their money on their add ons , not at the airframers expense.
        Cant see a specialist LCC long haul plane coming ever.

    • Aux tanks for the A320 family are long established and appear rather “unremarkable” in day to day use. Not much more than “just another ULD thingy in the hold” 🙂

  4. Looks like Plueger calls for an all-aluminum bird that is produced in a highly automated factory. And maybe that is what Boeing has on the table.
    Just as well it could be that we already wittness the start of negotiations. I should think Boeing would be interested to not make the same mistake again they have made with the 787, selling the product below production cost.
    They may also be variants on the table with different degrees of CFRP content and he Plueger wants the cheapest version built.
    And then there is the big question of the engine. The only new engine that comes to mind is the RR Advance, but it would amaze me to see that as the exclusive engine for a Boeing plane. A larger P&W GTF? A all new GE?

    • Boeing has fully noted it has to be under 100 million and not just on launch deals

  5. Spend a big pile of money making a plane lighter and then just wack 7 to $10 million off the price?! Obviously Plueger knows a lot more than me about pricing aircraft,but buyers are going to have to learn to pay enough for the planemakers to make a living.

  6. As aircraft technology improves, the E and C series displace the low end of the 737 and A320 domain. The A330/787/A350 the 747 and 777 routes. The 777x the low end of the A380.
    The middle of market is between 100t to 240t, 36m to 65m wing, 35K to 70K engines. Lots of room.
    Midweight aircraft will take over the mid-range 767 and A330 routes.
    Plus the option for mid-capacity at 3,500nm range. Some cross between a 753 and 762A. I’m thinking 2-2-2 at 55m, for an aircraft of 250 seats for JetBlue density, or 300 high density.

    • Agree 2-2-2 is THE answer. For high capacity you can have a looong fuselage with no loading/unloading issues. Two wing sizes and multiple lengths covers everything from A-320 to DC-8-61 (for younger readers that’s 757-300 but a bit longer).

      Same containers as 320 but lower floor (from bigger fuselage) puts the widest part of the fuse near shoulder height for max comfort. Fuselage can thus probably be only 30-40 cm wider than 320.

      2-2-2 is a TOTAL game changer. 4 aisle and two window seats per row!!!

      Now if only Boeing would only listen!

  7. There is still confusion around the MoM concept. Airbus feels that they have it, but Boeing feels that a single aisle A321 is not it.
    What is becoming clear is that it is a plane to suit a LCC to fly longer missions. So a 5000nm plane seating up to 250 pax, comfort not a priority as LCC use price to get bum in seats.
    An almost impossible task…..
    I would suggest refurbished A330s or B757 or 767’s with fully rebuilt engines… that should suit a LCC wanting cheap planes.

  8. If long haul ulcc won’t work without impossibly cheap planes, then it won’t work. Carbon wings on everything from now on, before too long they’ll be cheaper to make as well.

  9. There is no confusion, it like watching the Republicans try to spin their version of death panels into a health care plan.

    Boeing defined the market and Airbus is trying to hone in on it and re-define it. Boeing wins that hands down not because they were first, because they identified what may be a viable gap that Airbus never has and is scrambling to be relevant in it.

    I think Airbus made a mistake when they just did the NEO on the A320 series. Granted you have to pay for what you play with and it is a cost effective decisions.

    But even a re-winged A321 while getting there sooner is not a twin aisle.

    And the excitement and the PR all swirls around new not an upgrade even if its a very good one.

    And long term the airlines look at it, do I buy a still not great A321 for the missions or do I get the whole kahuna with a new full capability 797-X ((I think it start with -3 by the way!)

    Some of this is back to, if there is nothing else, you can sort of make do with an A321 or even A-330 though I think a Boeing 767-200WL should be viable in the interim.

    There is a lot of difference between making do and having it nailed.

    My Passat would make do at the Indy 500, it would finish and not all that bad time. It sure is not viable to compete there.

    You want the Milk Jug you need the handling and the speed to get it.

    • Its not a mistake to take a new technology engine when it comes available- the GTF. There was no way once it was being offered for the Cseries that it would sit on the shelf for 10 years. That may have been the CFM56 fate but that was 40 years ago.
      Fuel prices had become ridiculous, saving fuel had large $$$ signs.

    • “Boeing defined the market and Airbus is trying to hone in on it and re-define it. Boeing wins that hands down not because they were first, because they identified what may be a viable gap that Airbus never has and is scrambling to be relevant in it. ”

      that was easy. It is the only place where neither airframer has any products available. IMHO for good reasons. It is a valley of intrinsic sub par efficiencies.
      We see something similar to the 787: Trott out a range of super duper features and talk about “never gone there before”. {waggon train immagery}

      • Easy? Why hasn’t anyone worked it before Boeing started talking about it?

        Sometimes its only easy in hindsight.

        • Nothing about hindsight.
          As I wrote: there is no other market region where Boeing could give the appearance of “moving boldly into reaches never traveled before” ( if you have short memory retention, that is 🙂 .

          The Dreamliner Gambit won’t work again. Boeing needs a field where their PR does not have to work against an existing Airbus product. ( That this slot is untaken due to being less viable is less of a bother. Shareholders are not tech savy.)

  10. Want a twin aisle ?
    Want a fancy 1+2+1 cross-section up fwd in Premium ?
    Want them to fly at narrowbody trip costs ?
    Want to feather them in’n ramp them up quicker’n cheaper than ever before ?
    Want to start on the learning curve as if Day 1 you’d be building S/Nº 5,000 ?
    What else do you expect ? From this end , it’s X’mas every day, boys !

    We named H21QR NEO LR or if you want to go the whole way, H22QR ditto ?

  11. 1 Day ago I was excited about the 797, but then a few things dawned on me. Where will airport traffic be in 10 years and beyond from now? This may shape the realities for future aircraft requirements.

    The A321XW (New Wing) must/will happen, timing is the question. But then it should be a “complete” revision that potentially includes a new wing box as well? Airbus have engines from 30-35K-Lb available for it.

    This aircraft should be able to operate from smaller less congested airports with shorter (2500 – 3000Nm,
    “eXtra Range” –>4500Nm.

    Now, maybe something more contentious. Will there be a practical and realistic 240-260 seat medium haul twin market/airport capacity in 10+ years (outside the US) with congested airports and skies over Europe and Aisa (China and India to come)?

    Maybe the requirement will be for a 300-340 seat aircraft with reasonable field performance, sector ranges 2000 – 5000Nm? (Then the 787-10 is currently the best positioned for that market). These aircraft to operate mainly from”Medium” size airports such as Manchester, Cologne, Dublin, and Satellite airports to the “Big Ones”, feeding into the LCC’s main hubs.

    (And if I may go there, an A380 size aircraft will be required some time in future, 3000-6000Nm, feeding the “Big-Ones”?).

    If so, shouldn’t Airbus then be thinking of a 30/40 pax or so stretch of the 330-900 (“-1000”) with a range of 5000-5500Nm (350-900 for 7000+Nm routes) and apply weight reductions where possible. Per seat Opex and Capex should be competitive.

    The landing gear updates and ~75K-Lb engines that may be required could possibly also be used for an A330-900ER with a range of ~7000Nm?

    • Something went wrong in the text above. Possibly two 321X variants;

      The one (the most important?) should be able to;
      ->Operate from strips of Pax ~200, LCC configuration ~240,
      ->Range: 2500 – 3000Nm and,

      …the other with longer range (~4500Nm) operating mostly from medium size airports.

      Personally I don’t think this low cost Trans-Atlantic single aisle frenzy is going to last?

      Why is Aircraft manufacturers not making money? They are building to many types and variants. There should be a consolidation in the market, not every Airline can have its own “designer aircraft”.
      Not so many years ago there were only;
      …..and we all got to our destinations (with 34″ pitch, free drinks and meals).

  12. If I were Airbus I would announce development of the A322 wing in CFRP and tie up the bottom end of the NMA space. Judging from the increased capability and reliance on single aisles foe ever longer sectors the market will gravitate towards this format, it is also well served with potential engines in a high level of development. That would be enough to make Boeing think again and to sow an element of doubt in their decision to blow a lot of cash on a new 767, something that sold well without being a massive winner.

    • Dear keesje,
      you can be sure, that all future development of the A321 (probably A320 family) will base on the A321ACF/LR – hence, they already have their 240 MaxPax a/c already…with 97t MTOW. All with current wing, but sadly without Door 2 (DLH used to board via door 2 @ FRA, which used to be rather nice as more spacious). Let’s see what they may squeeze out even more….
      Well, deactivation of door 2 (none-4-door) should give Airbus a disadvantage compared to slime twine aisle. At least according to this:
      “Short range air traffic is dominated by single aisle aircraft. The average seat count of delivered single aisles has grown considerably. Single aisles are handicapped by lengthy boarding and deboarding times. Aircraft with twin aisle cabin layout may alleviate the boarding problem. But those aircraft may suffer from increased cost of operation. This paper studies how much better twin aisles fare in turnaround operations and how much more they cost to operate. These figures are analyzed for a selection of capacities and mission ranges in order to analyze where twin aisles offer benefits. The general finding is that twin aisles are more suitable above 240 seats capacity, but may offer superior economics even for lower capacities at short distances.”

      • Funny that the idea of 1 1/2 aisles is not considered more seriously. If you make the aisles between 25 and 30 inch wide it should be possible that passengers pass each other quite easily and you can also walk free with bags in hand, so boarding should be significantly faster.
        I think it is a much better solution that to go for twin aisles planes with 6 or 7 abreast. Only if you go to 8 or 9 abreast the relation between aisles space and seating space looks better.

        • This could backfire. More aisle space will take pressure away from those that can’t get seated without rearranging their stuff and themselves endlessly.

          Really, the easiest solution is fixing the infrastructure on airports. board and deplane via both ends.
          See, that is why rapid transit vehicles like buses, trains and trams have so many doors.:-)

          • True, but a wider aisles also allows to pass not only people but also trolleys. The slightly wider body will also be stiffer, so it can be somewhat longer.
            Busses and trains also don’t need bridges for boarding. It would be a heck of an investment to provide all gates for single aisle planes with a second bridge. Don’t think that’s gonna happen any time soon.
            So back to 1 1/2 aisles. Still like that idea a lot.
            From a strategy standpoint, it would also give Boeing an edge where Airbus could not easily follow. I think that would be my new 797 family. The first ones would be “cheap” all-aluminum birds for short and medium haul, followed by mostly-carbon variants for longer routes that could also have a longer body due to the higher strength of carbon fibers.

          • I think you guys are too conventional in your outlook, the Britten Norman BN2 sorted this problem 50 years ago. Get rid of the aisle and have a dorm for each row.

          • Never quite understood why seat manufacturers have not adapted a cinema type seat with lifting squab. Am sure the certification issues could be addressed and access to the centre and window sets would be a problem of the past.
            If you consider the speed in which an auditorium is cleared at the end of the show, surely some of that could be come a benefit in the loading and unloading saga?

          • But look at how long it takes to assemble the viewers 🙂
            pardon, excuse me, but this is my seat number, where is the loo?
            (Luxury) coaches tend to have sliding aisle seats ( into the aisle, 1″..2″) to provide elbow room when underway but allow an aisle of acceptable width during boarding.

        • Think Airbus will in 10 years build a “MoM”. It will replace the A330 and be in size somewhere around the 250-280 mark size with 2-3-2 seating, (350’s-320+ seats, A32X’s <220 seats).

          It should be slightly bigger than the 797 and slightly smaller than than the 787-9 beating those on OPEX with a new full composite asymmetrical fuselage, new technology engines and wing.

          The 322XR could get a composite fuselage that will accommodate a wider aisle after that?

          So the main thing for Airbus is not to panic and get their "ducks in a row".

      • Jörg Fuchte’s analysis AFAIK wasn’t validated by calibration using A321 3+3 LCC cabin data, but was sponsored by Airbus-tainted interests to enhance the pretended relevance of the 240-seater A321 Suzana Hrnkova folly vs the Boeing 2+3+2 ‘Fattie’ challenger momentarily put fwd at the time (2011) … the conclusions were foregone : the capacity hinge between single vs twin aisle interiors conveniently arrives …. at 240 seats !!? That study is flawed on a long list of accounts : there is much more to be said about twin aisle economics, both up-scale and down-scale capacity-wise. 240 seats is no magic number, Hrnkova/Fuchte forbid or not.

  13. @Scott:
    Could Boeing address the upper end of the market by simply slapping GEnx-2B engines under the B764ER and leaving the rest unchanged?

    The resulting aircraft would fit into 52m gates, be significantly lighter than any A330/787-based competitor and should therefore provide acceptable economics for a relatively small investment.

    • @A342: Sure, it could be done. Except the 767-400 is out of production. Except the systems are old. Except it’s too big (296 pax in 3-class). Except, except, except….

      • I realize the idea has its shortcomings, however:
        – AFAIK the 3-class capacity is 245.
        -Old systems don’t seem to prevent orders for the 763F by FX, or the continued production of the 737 or 747 for that matter. IIRC the FX birds even have a new cockpit?
        -The production line will stay open for the foreseeable future. What specific parts for the 764 cannot be produced any more?

        Of course, such a treatment could also be applied to the 763ER, however the GEnx-2B seems to big for that purpose.

        I fully see the 767’s deficiencies, but can Boeing really afford to spend billions on an all-new aircraft?

        • “I fully see the 767’s deficiencies, but can Boeing really afford to spend billions on an all-new aircraft?”

          Can they afford to not spend those billions?

          The current situation is due _not spending adequate money for research and product development_ .
          Money sunk into heavy PR, deforming reality, countervailing Meme creation and finally wining and dining assayers does not count here.

          Boeing lacks the cohesive toolbox of solutions that Airbus has established. Fixing a 767 up with electronic bling from the 787 doesn’t count.
          It will be rather interesting to see how the 777X will go. hodgepodge of details or homogenous efficiency.

          • We are ignoring the -200 and even the 2C that’s being made of the USAF.

            If there is an aircraft with old system sit the 737!

            As what is leaving (or getting old ) is the 767 fleet, then it seems the need is a -200/300 767 sized aircraft.

            While not ideal, interim with midlevel upgrades, not even an engine, Boeing ghoul be able to sell them cheaper than an A330.

            After all, they beat out the A330MRT on price by a lot.

            Scimitar Winglets, best current available engine, lighten it up where you can, you got a pretty good interim product.

          • @Transworld
            767-2C was calculated a lot of cheaper by US Air Force. Calculation was to look at a standard flight profiles over lifetime for fuel burn. These profiles contained on average more than 7 touch&go maneuvers.

            The 2C was marginal cheaper but the USAF did not account for the “more” like an airline would do:
            – exit limits: 290 vs. 404
            – cargo capacity: 22 LD2 vs. 26 LD3 (volume: LD2 3.4 m³; LD3 4.3 m³)

            2C has same MTOW as 767-400 and partial flyby wire for the boom.
            New wing? Just different flaps.

            You may remember why Boeing did build the 787?

            Airbus improved the A330 pax version. Boeing did nothing in the meantime.

  14. Thanks Keesje,

    Your link shows things that are in my head, beautiful to see. The 320Plus for me is a no brainer, see it as a priority that can be developed in short time and at low cost. With 28+K-Lb Engines it will not only have good field performance but more than challenges the the 737-8’s seat mile cost claims.

    It could attract potential 737-8/9 customers and win over some with current orders?

    Not sure about the upper-end but both will make sense if the 321XR has 4500Nm (effective range) and the 322XR is targeting 1000-3000Nm intra-continental HD sectors.

    To start at the beginning, let Airbus fight back from the bottom up with the A320Plus, erode the bottom of the 797 market with the 322XR stabilize the supply chain on the 350-900, get the A330-900’s in smooth production. Market a 330-8 with aggressive pricing (-200, CEO’s, NEO rest, 5000Nm).

    Two of the most successful airlines of recent times have X-hundred aircraft between them but only 3 aircraft types, Ryanair (737’s) and Emirates (A380’s/B777′). Makes you think!

  15. The MOM will of course not be positioned as a direct competitor to any current or direct derivative Airbus model. That’s not how the game is played, or ever has been. It will very likely also nicely dovetail into a future NSA family. Folks should remember Airbus played the game well to prevent Boeing from going full NSA when they preemptively launched the NEO program forcing Boeing to go with a rapid re engine effort instead. It was a great chess move.

    The game is certainly not over though. I’m glad Boeing isn’t just going 767 max, apparently. The 757 and 767 sort of created their own market spaces, earlier, after all. This will probably, from the lessors perspective, be looking to do the same thing. No “ultra light” A330 or uber stretched A320 series will be similarly positioned. The A-B duopoly I think are moving more and more toward larger narrow bodies and family commonality to fend off the encroaching Chicoms, Brazilians, Russians, Canadians, Japanese etc over their next twenty plus years of product planning.

    • Thats not facing reality. P&W wasnt going to let their game changer GTF engine just be a niche product for japan ,Canada and China.
      Boeing blew all their spare development money on the 787 and 747 fisacos and werent going to kill their cash cow the 737 series before its time- look how tricky it is to maintain volume in the run-up to the 777X introduction.
      I just saw an analysis of Deltas renewal program from Air Insight, they were a big user of 757 and 767 and still are with some seriously old planes.( 20+yrs)
      Their replacements for 767 ( 218 and 246 seats)are 330-900 (287 seats) and for the 757 ( 179 & 234 seats) is the A321 with 192 seats

      Any gap between the below 200 seats and the 287 A330neo doesnt seem to have a look in.

      • I think Boeing blew all their spare money on the Stock Buyback.
        And its a mindset as much as the money.

        If not for that they would be rolling in dough to develop .

        Not taking anything away from the two debacles, but its far from the whole story.

  16. DL is indeed an interesting case study, but it is not determinative and is generally seen as an “unusual case study” in terms of fleet planning and buying cycles. Their 739 acquisitions would tend to reinforce that.

    As to whether your other point that “Boeing spent all their spare development money” on other programs, I’d just respectfully disagree.

    The market isn’t static or locked into a static position from either an airline or manufacturer perspective moving forward from a given hard date. Historically, the dynamics favor change, when economical/flexible, and supported robustly on a global basis.

  17. It seems to me that, in general, when you exceed around 220 people (2-class capacity), two things start to happen:
    1) Boarding time becomes too long, so you need to go to 2 aisles, and
    2) Weight becomes too heavy for 2 wheel main landing gear, requiring 4 wheel bogies.
    Both factors come into play at around the same point, depending on range.
    And once you have 2 aisles, the added benefit of going to 8 across may well seem worthwhile.

    Also, I have thought the ideal future replacement for the 737 would be one fuselage diameter with two wings.
    The smaller wing would be for planes with capacity and range equivalent to the 737-600, -700, and -800.
    The bigger wing would be for 737-900 (with 3500 mile range), a slightly bigger plane, and for a -800 sized plane with 4000 to 4500 mile range.

    • I think they played with that. At issue was they diddled until they had to make a move rather than go for it.

      I don’t know if it was a two wing solution.

      I suspect that is all in play discussion wise.

      They are back to where they were when they launched the 787.

      There was serious talk that they were getting out of the aircraft business.

      Its time they committed again (and it should not come to this)

      They keep dithering when they need to act.

      Yea you make mistakes sometimes, but then what have they got right now?

    • No need to have two wings for different ranges. The fuel capacity can been seen as two parts, the wing boxes (x2) and the centre section.
      Short range planes only need the the wing boxes while long range use centre section and wing fuel tanks.
      The early 747s didnt use their wing centre section at all until the later higher thrust engines were available to take the extra weight.
      The current A380 has empty center section fuel tanks , as the wings are so big, but could conceivably get more range when required ( it may have been optional on the proposed A380F, it would go from 315K litres to 357K lit)

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  19. Maybe the MoM market is what its says, “middle of nowhere” (except in the US)?

    If so an A322XR (new wing) with 200 to 220 seats for longer single aisle sectors of up to 4000Nm where rotation times are less of an issue and, a shorter range (~5000Nm) “weight trimmed” 330-9oo(“MR”) with de-rated engines (65/8K-Lb?) are all that is required?

    If there is enough appetite for an A330-MR type aircraft (400+ units?) Airbus could consider a “New” optimized A330 aircraft with a fuselage length between the 800 and 900 (~61m/270pax), new wing box and composite wing and a max range of ~5000Nm. By 2012/4 there could potentially be 60-65K-Lb GTF type engines available for it?

    An 330-MR will be an aircraft of its own merits and not trying to be some form of 797. It will serve a market between the 787-9/330-900 and 797 with the 787-8 being to small and long range. The A330-900 (ER) will cover the longer range 290 seat market with ranges of up to ~7000Nm.

    The 330-MR will be able to reach all destinations in Europe, Africa, Central and the Far East from India or the Middle-East. All US “East Coast” destinations will be in reach from Western and Eastern Europe, including Athens-New York, or for example, London to Seattle or Lisbon to Rio etc…

  20. Cost of flexibility in design, testing, and production is something manufacturers should address.

    Range reduction was done for the Boeing 720, a lightened 707. But it was supplanted by the 727, perhaps Boeing should have looked ahead more or perhaps the 720 was a stopgap.

    Having had my hands on it, I like to talk about the 707-138, a _shortened_ 707 (with ventral fin added). Purpose was more range for Qantas. First ones were turbojet, converted to fan engine my gloving inboard wing to accommodate greater engine weight compared to centre of lift.

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