Farnborough: NMA business case appears to weaken, evidence at air show indicates

Analysis

July 18, 2018, © Leeham News, Farnborough: The biggest, longest-running story at this year’s Farnborough Air Show is about an airplane that doesn’t exist: the prospective Boeing New Midmarket Aircraft (NMA or 797).

And the underlying story that’s emerging from the buzz on the sidelines and interviews with key observers and industry participants is that Boeing’s business case for the airplane appears to be getting weaker, not stronger.

Struggling business case

LNC reported Monday that Boeing is struggling to close the cost basis on the composite fuselage concept for the NMA, also called by observers the 797.

As a result, Boeing has reconsidered a design that reverts to metal for the fuselage, a more traditional and much less expensive approach to design, production and cost control.

It’s also less risky than the composite, ovoid concept that up till recently had been the conventional wisdom for the next airplane in the Boeing family.

This article detailed some of the challenges Boeing faces. Concurrently, The Air Current and Aviation Week published their own pieces detailing additional pressure Boeing faces from Airbus, which is thinking about yet another upgrade to its A321neo beyond the LR: an A321XLR, with a range of 4,500nm (vs 4,000nm of the LR), economic, engine and aerodynamic improvements.

Additionally, Flight Global’s Day 1 Air Show daily published a full-page analysis of the market size for the NMA.

Boeing, in shifting forecasts, initially saw a market of 1,200. Then it became 2,000, then 4,000, then 5,000 and back to 4,000. The most recent Boeing forecast for the Middle of the Market airplane is between 4,000 and 5,000.

This includes replacements for the Airbus A300 and A310, the Boeing 757 and 767 and the oldest Airbus A330s.

Flight Global notes that by 2026-27, when it assumes entry-into-service, the A300s and A310 will be gone as will most of the 757s and 767s. The oldest A330s will also have been replaced (Airbus hopes by the A330neo, a critical component of its business case for the A330neo.)

Engine makers skeptical

The engine makers see a market of around 2,300. Steven Udvar-Hazy, non-executive chairman of Air Lease Corp, forecast 3,000 and Aviation Capital Group sees 4,000.

All these figures are over 20 years. Airbus can be expected to capture a significant portion of any of these figures.

GE Aviation president David Joyce, in a press conference at Farnborough, said GE is struggling with the market demand and business case.

Hazy, considered one of the sagest players in the industry, noted at a May Airfinance Journal conference, that by the time the Boeing NMA would enter service (which he sees as in 2026-27), Airbus will have delivered 2,500 A321neo.

Growing doubts

Boeing itself shifted the target EIS from 2024-2025 to 2025 in its first quarter earnings call. Authority to offer the NMA for sale, according to market intelligence, may have shifted from the fourth quarter to the first quarter. Program launch is also a moving target, from early 2019 to mid-2019 to the end of the year to even 2020.

The point is that there is no certainty, or even reasonable certainty, about what Boeing is up to.

Aerospace analysts from New York and London asked LNC at the air show if all this uncertainty is a Boeing “head fake” to deceive Airbus while Boeing prepares a direct launch to the 737 replacement, code-named the Future Small Airplane, or FSA.

Airbus response

While Airbus is as much in the dark as the analysts, it’s not standing still.

Reports of development of an A321+ or an A321++ have been circulating for years. In recent weeks, development of an A321XLR hit the news. One suggests a program launch next year and EIS by 2022.

The longer Boeing waits to decide to launch the NMA, the more beneficial it is Airbus and the more detrimental it is to Boeing.

Making the business case

If Flight Global’s retirement analysis is correct—and the numbers speak for themselves—and if Airbus comes to market with an A321 upgrade next year with an EIS in 2022, years ahead of the NMA, the fewer airplanes Boeing will sell.

This is why Boeing is going all-out to kill the A330neo, aimed at the top of the market.

If Airbus is successful in winning sales of the A330-800, for which there are none, this squeezes the business case from the top while the A321 squeezes it from the bottom.

If all this happens, there is probably no business case.

Which is also why the importance of Boeing Global Services aftermarket increases.

Shifting strategy

Stan Deal, president of BGS, outlined a shift in strategy in an interview with LNC at the air show.

In September, when LNC interviewed Deal, he said the link between aftermarket services and the NMA business case was not critical to making a successful case to proceed with the airplane.

 

But in a pre-Farnborough Air Show interview with Bloomberg, Deal revealed a much closer link than previously disclosed.

“Very deliberately,” Deal said of the revelation. “The big focus is making sure we’re highly integrated on the product invention side, so NMA…is ensuring my team is embedded in those product trades to do two things.

“One is to make sure that as the product goes to market, it’s got the best life-cycle type of trade in terms of a promise to an airline, knowing that 30% is acquisition and 70% capex cost is operating.

“Two, deciding what we put into the airplane from a product service feature that’s enduring long-term for our operators and creating value.,” he said.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Kevin McAllister is leading the NMA development, but services from BGS is increasingly important to the business case.

How critical is the nexus between BGS and the NMA business case?

“It’s very important,” Deal said. “I’m not going to give you a quantum on the business case, but I’d say it’s an important element of it.”

Deal noted that BCA sales chief Ihssane Mounir offers the airplane and the services together in any sales campaign.

Closing the business case

The market has been talking about the “757 replacement” for about six years. The conversation evolved, becoming the “767 replacement,” which is what the 787 was billed to be.

That the conversation has been going on for six years and will continue into next year perhaps is indicative about how difficult the business case is to close.

68 Comments on “Farnborough: NMA business case appears to weaken, evidence at air show indicates

  1. How much more can be done to the A321LR to compete with a new clean sheet Aircraft? It already has the newest engines and cleaned up aerodynamics, not much left to improve upon.

    • Yep, a lot of nattering about something that can haul 150 people if that at range?

      • Saw somewhere a statement from Airbus that current A320 family is, um, MAXed out. I think we can assume any super 321 will have new wings and other goodies.

        • Quoted from the guardian:
          https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/14/airbus-brexit-warning-wing-production-bristol-wales

          “We’re developing a folding wing tip,” he said. “On a single-aisle jet like the A320, this gives a longer wing and is more aerodynamic, but it will also fit into the airport gate when folded.”
          Mark Howard, head of research and technology business development at Airbus UK, noted that the group is introducing more automation with each aircraft programme. He also reckons the new wing will create drag improvements of 12%.

          “So that’s pretty important because that means less fuel burn,” he said. “It means that you don’t need as much thrust to push it through the air, which means you can reduce engine weight. It’s a snowball effect in terms of aircraft design.”

          “When the future wing goes into production – which will be within the next 10 years – Airbus will have to make a huge investment to automate large parts of the manufacturing and assembly process. These big investment decisions could be make-or-break ones for Broughton – and for Britain’s place at the top table of the aerospace industry.”

          Airbus is already working on a new wing:

          https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/news/en/2017/01/Wings-of-the-future.html

          What would be the new range and capacity with such improvements?

          • The folding wingtips should go through certification without too much trouble, especially as Airbus is only following Boeing here.

            Me thinks that the A321XLR makes a lot of sense with no stretch, larger wingspan and CFRP wingbox. The increase in span improves efficiency on longer flights and makes it possible to carry more fuel with the same engines, without the need to reduce payload. The CFRP wingbox should save quite a bit of weight too, further improving tank capacity resp. payload.

          • A small stretch fwd and aft of a new composite wingbox makes sence, a new composite wing with more fuel with new pylon and a new engine or derivative of the existing neo engines and you are getting close to an A322. One question is if Airbus can invite RR with a 42k Advance engine if one of the existing neo engine OEM’s do not want to disturb Boeing by providing the engine for the “NMA killer”. The other is if Airbus goes for active sidesticks a la A230 and switch sidesticks on the A320neo/A322neo as well? The other choice is if they will switch to Al-Li fuselage or keep what they have.

          • Good to hear, but its the CAT-C gates that are getting crowded. What aircraft will us CAT-D gates when the 757’s and 767 are gone.

            So lots of space for A321XLR or A322’s with CAT-D wings?

            A long wing on an A380-900 with folding wing-tips could be impressive (with 4 X 80Klb Ultrafans).

      • Some reading re A321XLR, 4500Nm with X? pax, maybe it could fly 4000Nm with 180-200 pax which should be useful.

        Also mention is a 2 row stretch in economy which could suggest a 2nd access door in front of the wing for application on shorter haul routes?

        http://c.newsnow.co.uk/A/947128264?-303:3665:3

        • The wing is the main issue for both an A321XLR and 322, this could increase MTOW still using 35Klb engines. Would love to see it with 4 wheel bogeys, the penalty increase in OEW.

  2. I think the A321LRX or whatever is vastly over stated.

    Without a stretch, a new wing and new engines, it is nothing more than a 737-7 BBJ. (few passengers, long range)

    • To flesh this out. A tweaked A321LRX that hauls 150 passengers 4500 miles has what application?

      To put it into the 250 seat market it needs to be stretched (didn’t work so good on the 757-300) and it needs new wing and engines so it can haul 250 pax 4500 miles.

      Missing in all this is that all aircraft undergo a lot of shifting and shuffling. The 777 started out as THREE engines. It did ok, but really hit its stride in the second generation al the LRs.

      As for Hazy, he may be a very savy lessor. He killed off what was going to be the A330NEO to start with.

      Then he wants it back and claims it will sell well over 1000.

      And the program is heavily dependent on a flaky operation in Air Asia.

    • Not sure if I agree with you, it has been a sufficiently capable aircraft to destroy the prospects of the NMA almost singlehandedly. And the biggest issue of the A321 is likely to be addressed soon. The A321 has always been marginal on wing, extend the wing and it becomes a far more potent midrange performer. Perhaps we will get those rather sexy downward folders!! If so I may be guilty of a bit of plane spotting!!

      Not sure if the same approach should not also be adopted for the A320 or A320.5 in order to kick the MAX 8 in the same TATL battle zone.

    • If you can make an A321(XLR) fly 4500Nm with 180 pax (and luggage) against head winds (Europe to US for example) you will have a very useful aircraft. This will however require updated/new wing plus some additional thrust.

      Then an stretched A322 (+3m) could possibly do 4000Nm with 200 pax? Its up to AB to see where the market/Airline interest is.

      The link by HB-NBA indicating that AB is looking at a new wing (40m-44m span) suggesting that AB is actively looking at an A321 with more range and/or seat capacity.

      Or is AB busy with their own “Sonic Cruiser” that this is a wing for an FSA with 220 seats flying 4500Nm and that an 321XLR will just get an updated wing?

  3. Perhaps this will lead to a 757 replacement in the form of a NSA that has some chance of knocking the A321 off its perch without all of the self imposed ‘wouldn’t it be nice if’ limitations that the NMA struggled with.

    So what happens now? Is this the end of history? We have nothing beyond PIPs and cheap variants to talk about.

    • While its a thought, the 757 mostly has been replaced. Longer range on the 737 and A320/321 has done that.

      In question is can you build an aircraft that can haul 250 pax 4500-5000 miles.

      The 787 has morphed out of the original 767 slot (and that sold a lot of aircraft, dang it still is………………..)

      The 767 killed the A300/310.

      That slot is still there if you can build an aircraft with the right economics.

      It can’t just be a modern knock off, there is not enough market for that left at the bottom and it has to be a lot better than the 767 at the top.

      • If the present A321Neo can fly 4000nm then it should be possible to build a slightly enlarged version that can do up to 5000nm – a 757-sized carbon fibre wing with GTF engines?

      • Transworld your spot on, that’s my take of the aircraft that is needed, 250 pax, 5000Nm, the biggest limitation a new 50Klb engine/s. AB in more need for such an aircraft as BA has the 787-8 which they can tweak.

        AB has the 321 from which they can develop variants with 200-220 seats that can fly 4500Nm, that is BA’s biggest short coming/area of need.

  4. I don’t think there’s really much doubt that there is a substantial possible market between an A321 (200K pounds MTOW) and an A330/787 (500K MTOW). There’s a whole potential class of aircraft that are, basically, not available today from around 250K to 400K in (max) takeoff weight, and B/A have both built a huge business around filling gaps in the competitive offerings (NOT in replacing 1:1 current/older aircraft).

    The issue is really all about where, exactly, to target within that space, and using what technologies/costs. It’s a fine art, but you have to basically respect both maker’s proven ability to launch, and sell at a high rate (but not necessarily to produce on schedule/profit goals), new models over the past 40 years. They have an unbroken track record for new frames/models, really, in that respect.

    • I am not quite sure what you are saying there.

      747-8 is not a major success, the 737-9 a mere nice adjunct, the A380 is not, the A330NEO is iffy at least currently.

      • All of those except the A380 are mere derivatives. The new frames/programs have sold quite well. Net sales of the 707 through the 787 for each family have been tremendous vs. launch expectations.

        The A380 I forgot about, frankly, but it was an enormous ego demonstration more than a commercial product, really, so I’d just label it as an exception to prove the rule.

  5. I think this article hits on the crux of the problem for Boeing… they are trying to produce a modern small dual aisle aircraft that can compete on a capital and operating cost basis with single aisle products.

    As long as it has sufficient range for the intended route, the A321LR (and possibly 737MAX) is tough to beat on the acquisition and operating cost side. There is a ~4,000 mile thin route niche available to Boeing (I’m thinking mostly transatlantic flights between secondary cities) but that niche can’t support the $10 billion of R&D for Boeing plus additional for engine maker(s).

    IMHO, Boeing would have been better to quietly work on the successor to the 737 and come out with a 320 killer – offer a clean-sheet design with slightly larger diameter than currently offered with 3 sizes – a small aircraft equivalent to the -8, a medium one equivalent to somewhere between the -9 and -10 and a large one that has say 3 more rows than the A321.

    • The issue there gets back to the same one for the NMA.

      With a 737 design dating back to the 60s, that is still made competitive (barely but they did it) with a much newer as well as better architecture A320 series ) what makes the case?

      10 billion for a barely better A320 (that in turn can put on a new wing and become competitive again?)

      Its going to loose money big time as you have to compete on the lower A320 series prices. No getting around that.

      Huge losses for a long time (after another huge loss program)

      Or like the NMA you come out with an all new form that is beyond competitive.

      But it still costs you, you still have to suffer losses for a long time as you are still in a hyper competitive market.

      Airbus now has the C series so you are not going to begin to beat that with an aircraft that str4eahes across the A320 to A321 lineup (forget the A319).

      Sticking with the 737 was a mistake two generations ago and a remedy is going to be extremely painful.

      • Boeing missed an opportunity to buy the C-Series for next to nothing which could have given them a CS-100, CS-300 and ultimately CS-500 to blanket the market from 100-160 aircraft then use the C-Series updated cockpit systems as the basis for a new larger single aisle range from 175-250 passengers.

      • There’s also no engine better than what hangs under the wings of the A320neo and won’t be for quite a while (unless RR throws a hail mary).

        So, IMHO, an all-new single-aisle might be 5-10% cheaper to operate than the A320neo/737MAX. Is that enough for airlines to pay a premium for it? If they’re not prepared to do that, then there’s no way Boeing will spend vast sums of money on NSA now or in the short-term.

        My guess is that NSA is a post 2030 EIS plane.

    • The 797 design is heavily dependent on automation and its risks and costs. Can they design a 200-250 pax plane with better range and cheaper operating costs per seat than a 737-8?

    • The 737 successor might be a composite super light twin aile aircraft if it can be produced cheaply enough by robots. We are not there yet, still the Technology from the LEAP fan blades scaled to a slim widebody can be one of the ways forward. Customers might select fuselage length and matching wings with Engines having fuel and thrust for the missions hence there could a be large mix of versions with different fuselage lengths, wing spans and MTOW. The Beauty o f the LEAP fan blades is that they are not Pre-preg layup but stiched giving much more isotropic properties and much higher shear strength.

  6. In a way we see the floating of the NSA product repeated.
    Lots of talk. super airframe but nobody has an idea how to build at acceptable cost.
    Will this end in a 75.57 MAX Frankenmonster ?

  7. I can see the A321XLR being a super versatile plane that is efficient for short hops and transatlantic flights in equal measures. In a 2 class configuration with lie flat business class and economy you have 160 seats for long haul, flying LAX-JFK and back all day long and at night it goes transatlantic. It could open up long haul routes that do not justify widebodies. It could replace widebodies in low season. A LCC might have 240 seats mixing short and long flights with utilisation of over 15 hours per day. Northern airports like KEF and HEL might use it to open more transatlantic and transpacific routes, again making short and long haul flights with the same plane type, allowing crew to either fly long distance or short haul on the same equipment. All that for the price of a single aisle plane. What’s not to like?

    • Basically the A321XLR concept is a like-for-like 752 replacement but with modern economics. Which really leaves the 763 space for NMA. Is that really a 4000+ airframe market, given that the 763 variants (excluding F) sold only 700 aircraft?

      • Not its not, the A321LR can’t haul the same passenger numbers the same distance.

        The A321LRX would haul even fewer in the 4500 mile sector.

        • A 3m stretched 321 with CAT-D CFRP wing and 35-37Klb engines should have the same range/pax as the 752, EIS 2024?

          Believe AB could have an A330N replacement by 2030 with latest and greatest engines which should take care of the upper end of the NMA market?

        • A321neo has 4000nm range, A321LR has 4500nm. 752 was rated at 3950nm. Pax numbers are similar. Maybe weight limits A321LR to a smaller passenger number than the 752 could do, but is it really that big a difference? I suspect that for most of the 752 routes they’ll be functionally equivalent.

        • But hauling fewer the same distance at same seat cost is the modern winner.

          • Repetition doesn’t to make it more true. 🙂
            752 starts out with slightly more payload
            below MZFW ranges but lags further out.
            unsurprising. 25%++++ less fuel shows up nicely for the A321 in the payload range diagram.

    • The fact that 160 seats on an A321 making short hops is a loosing proposition and to go 4500 miles you loose even more passengers.

      A CS-300 for a lot less money and vastly better economics that can seat 160 cross US would eat its lunch.

      • “Losing”, not “loosing”! (E.g. Loose your belt after a big meal, but don’t totally lose it!)

      • I don’t think so…if a long range plane’s leasing rate are paid for already then doing a short hop with it should still make money. LCCs will have more seats anyway.

        • It’s often not quite that simple for leased planes.

          Most lease contracts have very strict limits on airframe & engine cycles and hours. Exceeding those can result in significant penalty payments.

          • fair enough but with a narrowbody made for lots of cycles this should not be an issue

    • I posted this in another area but its a flip side to the argument.

      That’s not really a flipside – it’s just giving an overview of how hard Boeing is working to close the business case.
      That doesn’t negate how, as Scott noted, tough this obviously is to achieve – considering we’ve been talking about what was originally called the MOM (now NMA) for upwards of five or six years. The focus has shifted a bit all over the place during that time, from 737-9 size to 737-10 size to 787-8 size and back again and most places between those three types… and yet: We are still only talking about it, and, six years in, a metal fuselage is now being considered to lower development and production costs, so the plane can be offered at a price that’s still attractive enough to actually ensure the sales (and profits) required to justify the investment.

      • The shifting focus and the lack of a definition of what the NMA is six years on is hardly surprising. Even though the market size for the NMA is said to be in the thousands, it would seem to be a cluster of planes with different requirements by the different airlines, the main factors being CASM, seats, cargo and range.

        If you take cargo for instance, the market seems to be divided between cargo-heavy NMAs and cargo-light NMAs. Going one way would lose you sales in the other. Bringing out a Jack-of-all-trades would put you in a tough position where you’d be encroached upon by single aisles at the bottom and cargo carriers at the top because you are not as efficient at the overlap points, still limiting your market size.

        • It gets interesting if the 797 can replace 2ea 737-800’s in the morning rush economically hence many airlines would use them for domestic trunk routes as slots are getting harder to come by. It all depends on its price and durablity/operating costs. For this hard cycling a composite fuselage is an advantage with its higher fatigue strength and corrosion resistance but there is a cost issue making a composite aircraft, My bet is that Boeing will go for an Al-Li fuselage and CFRP composite wings with a scale up LEAP engine with an GEnX-2B core engine to gain time to certification. Like a small brother to the 777-9, Customer wanting another engine can wait in line for another 4-5 years, and most will not wait that long for a heavier engine with 4-7% better SFC except BA.

      • “… it’s just giving an overview of how hard Boeing is working to close the business case.”

        But still : Talk is cheap. 🙂

    • The article in the ‘most read’ sidebar is actually more interesting. It references development cost, the Air Asia competition, and the effects of the lessors on the life-cycle costs.

    • At this stage in the definition of a product I would be very cautious about assuming floated rumors – such as, ‘we can’t close the business case’ – are true. It is equally possible that the business case was closed a month ago and that closed-door discussions are happening with airlines either at Farnborough or in Seattle.

    • The Seattle Times article that TransWorld posted a link to above, paints a different picture than this blog post does of how well defined and how advanced design work on the 797 is at this point in time. See the excerpt below from the article. “McAllister” is Boeing Commercial CEO Kevin McAllister. I suspect that we will know by this time next year whether Mr. McAllister’s characterization of progress on the 797, or the characterizations offered by the named and unnamed sources quoted above by Mr. Hamilton, were more accurate.

      “McAllister said his dedicated NMA development team has brought forward work on the airplane design that is more typically done after a formal launch, checking out the airplane systems on various demonstrator testbeds ahead of any production work.

      He gave no detail but this seems to mean things like an “Iron Bird,” a lab set-up that simulates the flight control system, and similar simulations of the jet’s electrical wiring and hydraulics.

      In addition, McAllister said, “We’ve done a ton of work” on designing the production system and planning the supply chain.

      After the 787 Dreamliner was launched in 2004, engineers did similar studies at Boeing’s secretive advanced manufacturing Developmental Center in Seattle, where they perfected the way that jet’s new composite airframe would be built.

      As for the supply chain, Boeing has already taken proposals from the three jet engine makers, GE, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney, and McAllister said the NMA team has begun to talk about requirements and costs with some other suppliers.”

        • An aluminum fuselage with CFRP wings should bring the 797 production cost right in the middle between the A321XLR and the 787-8.

          Given a round fuselage with 2-3-2 seating and a relatively low floor, it will have similar underbelly volume as the A321. a tad more if it is a little longer.

          The reduced drag of the thinner CFRP wings should make up for the disadvantage of the larger body, so in the end seat mile cost could be similar to the A321.

          It will not be so easy to put a lot of fuel into those thin wings though, so to surpass the A321XLR it may become necessary to carry fuel in the fuselage too, which is not ideal.

          It still needs new engines, as it would weight quite a bit more than the A321.

          Here again we have the question of quantities. Boeing would like to offer a choice of engines, but I doubt that any one of the engine makers would be ready to invest in a completely new engine only to sell maybe 1,000 pieces. So I believe there has to be a decision. The GTF is probably the best bet here, as it “only” needs to be scaled up. The Ultrafan might be the best engine, but that would be the risky version. GE/CFM would be a safe bet, but that would be a rather conventional engine and might not offer the fuel efficiency that is looked for the 797. So that’s a really tough one I guess.

          The conclusion is that an aluminum fuselage make the 797 project much more feasible, but the improvement over the competitors products is quite a bit smaller. With production cost pretty much the same as the A330, it will be really hard to make a profit.

          How would you decide if you have a business plan in front of you that requires some significant investment but in a normal scenario targets only break even?

        • Hello Scott,

          Regarding: “And this article posted Wednesday by the same author of the same newspapers reports what I did”

          As you probably know, Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times posted another 797 story Thursday morning 7-19-18 titled: “Contradicting earlier report, Boeing exec says 797 jet still likely to have a composite fuselage, not metal.”

          For those who are just tuning in, here is a very condensed summary of recent Seattle Times 797 stories by Mr. Gates.

          Tuesday: According to Boeing Commercial CEO Kevin McAllister design work that is usually done after official launch is being done prior to official launch, meaning that configuration, range, and seating capacity have been decided on.

          Wednesday: Leasing executive says that he has a gut feeling that Boeing may use metal instead of composites.

          Thursday: Senior Boeing executive apparently has a different gut feeling than the above referenced leasing executive, since he says that 797 will likely be composite, not metal.

          See below for an excerpt from, and link to, the Thursday Seattle Times 797 story.

          “Just one day after a major aviation player told the Seattle Times that Boeing’s proposed new 797 airplane might have a metal rather than a carbon composite fuselage, a top executive at the jetmaker threw cold water on that outcome.

          “We are committed to continuing looking at a composite structure,” said Boeing sales chief Ihssane Mounir.”

          https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/contradicting-earlier-report-boeing-exec-says-797-jet-still-likely-to-have-a-composite-fuselage-not-metal/

          • I was in the room. Mounir did not refute that Boeing is reevaluating cost of metal fuselage, which is my Wednesday story. He said the focus is on the composite fuselage, which is not inconsistent with my story.

  8. Boeing continues to pay the price for the 787 debacle and delays resulting from it. Had the 787 launched on time, they probably would have launched a new 737 that could have filled the void of the 757 and A321.

    The other question about the 797. How much will it cannibalize 787 sales? If you don’t need the range, the 797 at a lower price and potentially better CASM seems like a no brainer rather than ordering the 787-8 or 787-9.

    • I’d say cut price 787s aimed at the a330 have probably already canibalized the NMA case. All those 787s flying 6-8 hour legs won’t be scrapped just because there is something new, esp as resale values will take a hit.

      • Opens up another question: Take a 787-9, remove 16 frames (16 x 24inches each= 32 feet); derate the Genxs to 48,000 to 50,000 lbs. thrust (exclusive bulk buy); lighten as much as possible. Get sales price for fleet buys near $100 million per plane. Voila, a 767-300X!

        • I fully agree with these sort of views. The B767, lovely aircraft though it was always seemed to be an iteration too far. It sold well enough but the new paradigm of development cost to production volume appears to require something like 1,500+ units to break even as the R&D costs have rocketed and the new manufacturing techniques seem to be slow to bed down. Anything replacing the B767 (lovely aircraft – did I say that?) struggles to make a case.

          We can play with:
          Using existing tech (b787 cockpit)
          spreading the costs (NSA)
          Lower tech (reducing CFRP)
          Innovative production processes
          Lower cost production site (Brazil anyone?)

          But the facts remain that it is highly possible costs will not be recouped and existing product sales will be cannibalised whilst the upside potential will always be limited.

          The $10Bn+++ wasted on this development could be far better employed elsewhere, buybacks, NSA, Muilenburg’s bonus etc

        • A bit too fat and way to expensive to build. Maybe if Witchia gets a robot spitting out whole 787 bodies for almost raw material costs it could be done but we are far from there now. Maybe if Electroimpact and Torres gets huge US goverment money to do it for the B-21 they can many another for the 797. Still war is not that close motivating robots making 10 composite fuselages a day for a new bomber.

        • “Our” man from Qatar once said the 788X is what he sees as “his” MoM.

          What will it cost for BA to put a highly efficient CAT-D wing on the 788 with modified GeNx engines (~55Klb), these engines could be replaced with new ones when available.

          AB won’t have any competition for this as the 330 is to dated?

          Then start at the upper end of the single aisle market with an NSAS/FSA (200-240 seats).

          Hope they don’t as I wear an AB-cap

  9. Strong leadership at some point has the confidence to put business cases aside instead of hiding behind them.

    Most business cases are full of assumptions and preferences anyway to get out what fits the strategy.

  10. “Boeing, in shifting forecasts, initially saw a market of 1,200. Then it became 2,000, then 4,000, then 5,000 and back to 4,000. The most recent Boeing forecast for the Middle of the Market airplane is between 4,000 and 5,000.”

    Wow, is this accurate? Hard to imagine how a forecast could move around this much unless someone doesn’t know what they are doing.

    • Depends on your “looking glass”. Are you replacing just the 757, the 757 and 767, the 757, 767, and China growth, etc.

  11. If Boeing tabled the twin aisle NMA and targeted the ideal A321/757 single aisle aircraft, say an A321 plus 2m? The issue of CFRP fuselage or not would still be undecided. With the E195-E2 and A220 wingspan approaching 36m, the optimal wingspan would be 40m+, the choice of a folding wing to fit in a 36m gate?
    One plus would be minimal engine development time, using slight derivatives of LEAP and GTF. With a larger wing and taller gear, the new aircraft would have better performance than the A321 using similar thrust engines.
    That said, I hope Boeing proceeds with a light 757 size twin aisle.

  12. A321LR is a way smaller plane than the B797 is supposed to be.
    A A321 with a real C will be able to carry maybe 170-180 Pax, while Boeing goes for 220 and 270 Pax.

    Also it’s questionable how many B757/B767, A300 and also A332 replacements already have been ordered.
    Or where shall all these 321neo, Max9 and Max 10, B787 and A350 orders stem from?

    How much more efficency can be gained if you optimize B787 or A330 in routes under 9000km/5000nm?

    If Airbus want to go for it, it need another stretch to it’s A321 to about 50m, a new wing. Maybe this new wing could be also fitted on a new A330neo domestic, basically a A338neo with a smaller wing and less range.

    Otherwise, there will stay a gap between Widebodies and SAs.

  13. What about a 797 with folding wingtips a la 777x , while airbus is mulling folding wingtips for narrow bodies, Boeing has the technology ready.
    These iterations of A321 to A321neo to A321LR to A321XLR then A321XXLR shows reluctance for daring innovation from a company that calls itself leader of innovation.
    For how long can one make people believe that A321 classic was the perfect basis for endless iteration of the same aircraft?
    Airbus need to wake up and show real innovation.

  14. The A321XLR looks like a low rent / low investment parts bin special to incrementally grow the aircraft and close out one big issue that is holding it back.

    Not a huge step forward but useful none the less.

  15. A320 — piece of unfinished business.

    The 1.9m gap / deficit in its fuselage length vs B737-8.
    Not sure how much of this deficit AB has reduced by way of a rework of the rear bulkhead but from the seating figures given out it seems to a least 1 row behind its BA rival.

    In the marketplace does this matter?
    Just surprised that something so visible has been allowed to linger.

    If AB decide to close this gap with an A320.25 Model with an extra two rows in a slightly longer fuselage — would this change be passed on to the A321 as a new A321.25 model?

    If yes would this extra fuselage volume be a big help with finding space for more fuel?

    Simple answer is yes but would it allow existing components to be packaged more efficiently over and above the increase in fuselage length?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.