Pontifications: More hints NMA is a “go”

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 3, 2018, © Leeham News: Safran, the French company that is a 50% partner in CFM International, believes Boeing will launch the New Midmarket Airplane next year.

Safran held its investors day last Thursday.

In sideline conversation, one of those attending reports that Safran met recently with Boeing and is convinced the NMA is a “go.”

(Others, elsewhere, remain skeptical.)

Engine company responses for proposals are due this month to Boeing. CFM, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney are competing for the engine selection.

It’s believed Boeing would like a dual source (certainly airlines do), but in all likelihood, the odds-on favorite is that the NMA will have a sole source engine. The betting is that it will be CFM.

Engine size

Market sources told LNC last summer that the engine for the NMA grew from around 45,000 lbs to 52,000 lbs of thrust. Even though the agreement between Safran and GE Aviation, the other 50% shareholder in CFM, caps CFM at 50,000 lbs (after which, GE takes over), the companies agreed that in this case, CFM will be the supplier.

Although Wall Street analysts continue to say GE is not convinced of the business case for the NMA, Safran’s CEO, Philippe Petitcolin, said GE is committed to funding the research.

Robert Stallard, the aerospace analyst for Vertical Research, asked about the level of GE’s commitment.

“In my opinion it is for me, yes, without any kind of speculations,” Petitcolin said. “We met with the new CEO of GE two months ago and he confirmed that all the strategy of GE Aviation would be pursued, including, of course, as I said a bit earlier, the JV they enjoyed with Safran.

“So, in my opinion there is absolutely no difference, no change in the way GE is forecasting or foreseeing the future in terms of new development. I’m totally convinced and I will say it because, as you know we are in this process of IFE with Boeing even if the NMA is not yet launched, the IFE process is going on and we saw absolutely no change in the way GE is looking at this program and the aggressivity they put in the financial aspect of the program. So, of course our hope is going to continue, but I do not see why it would not.”

Program launch is widely expected by observers to be at the Paris Air Show next June.

Boeing, as always, says any time someone asks, that studies continue.

Competition

In the meantime, Airbus is talking openly about the prospect of an A321XLR with as much as 4,700 miles of range. Officials claim the A330-800 is the answer for the top end of the market.

Guillaume Faury, the Airbus Commercial CEO and designated heir to succeed Tom Enders as CEO of Airbus Group, says information about the A321XLR will be forthcoming next year. Observers take this as a hint this airplane will be launched.

The chess game continues.

129 Comments on “Pontifications: More hints NMA is a “go”

  1. Will be interesting to see what is driving the grew in thrust requirement and hence MTOW for the NMA?

    Sure BA realized competition from an aircraft such as an A321XLR and be pitching the smallest of the NMA’s well above its in capabilities, but this could impact on 788 sales in the long term?

    • You’d be a real good marksman if you can snipe a 788 sale.
      Really rare beasties these days.

  2. Thanks for this article, Scott. I’m very, very disappointed in GE. Why set a 50,000 lb thrust limit on CFM, then turn right around and “move the goal posts” for them on the NMA engine? Do they not realize they’re selling off a sizable part of a direct, future replacement to their super-successful CF6 series? Aren’t they going to need to do a second generation Genx by that timeframe anyway? (These type engines also seem to grow in thrust over time, so a 55,000 to 60,000 lbs. thrust NMA type engine doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.) So, summing up, does this really indicate GE’s: 1) short on capital—after all its other divisions’ financial fiascos and GE9X development costs; and 2) indicates a much more limited future for what’s left of GE, going forward? What are your thoughts on these points and issues? (It might also be grounds for a future “Pontifications”, by gathering your financial analysts’ contacts thoughts on same.)

    • I don’t think it is a strategic decision, but a practical one. Simply because it makes a lot more sense to upscale the Leap than to shrink the GEnx. And a completely new development as you propose is certainly out of question. The development cost for GE, and their risk, is maybe a 1/10 this way.

      GE also knows perfectly well that the next generation of engines will all feature a geared fan, and the 797 will be much too early for them.

      Not sure if GE is working on such a new generation of geared engines at all, considering the state of affairs.

      • Ah, the Genx is supposed to be the successor to the CF6. And there’s a strong case for developing a “Genx 2” for both NMA and the 787s for entry into service in the 2025-2026 timeframe. (The 787s Genxs will be pushing 15 years from design for the 787.) Lastly, the LEAP was already going to “push the envelope” at 45,000 lbs.!

        • Why should you overhaul a engine that’s basically state of the art?

          There’s nothing new to gain, unless there’s a technology change or breakthrough nothing to gain in a “Genx 2”.
          Engines are running on material limit, either we find new materials or new tech.
          Actually the geared fan seems to be the logical way to ship around the issues and get higher bypass ratios, bigger fans etc. without going supersonic on fan blade edges.
          RR beliefs so, as it’s advance comes with a new fan and the ultrafan with a gearbox.
          Pratt is in with its PW1000G.

          Mid 2020 the B787 will not even be 15 years into service, would be quiet early for an update and NMA is a very different airplane.
          I don’t see how you update the B787 so fast, as there won’t be a better engine around.
          Chances are for late 2020 if RR launches a competetive Ultra Fan engine in that class.

          So there’s no case for a GenX2, as there’s no better tech available.

          • A lot of the design decisions for the 787, especially engines, would be 20 yrs old by 2025. Remember the rollout date for the 787 was 2007. EIS was 5 yrs later for reasons well discussed at the time.
            While engines have new names now for major changes, the CF6 and RB211 types 20 years plus after they first flew had major changes as well, and have very little in common with their ancestors with same family name.

          • Decisions might be older, but the GenX is a state of the art engine, it’s tech is on the same level as the Trent 7000/XWB and the Ge9x.
            In 2025, the GenX will be still competetive, unless there’s a major change.
            The A330 was powered by GE CF6, Trent 700, PW 4000.
            The CF6 was a design from the 70ties, it’s sucessor is the Genx, 30+ years later.
            The PW 4000 ist from 80ies, getting phased out with actuall planes (still on B777, A330).
            The Trent 700 was the main A330 power source, designe late 80ies, now 28 years old.
            I can’t see how you can build a case of a new engine when the old one is just 15 years old and state of the art.
            The B787 doesn’t have significant disadvanteges against A330neo, A350 or B777x, the engines are on the same tech and level.

            So nope, it won’t happen.

          • GEnx will be well out of date by the mid 2020s. ( roughly 20 yrs old- it still is a great engine) GE will have done two new generations by then , the smaller Leap ( in two versions , not just the fan size) , and the much larger GE9X ( on the tail end of development). They are always developing new tech , some can go on existing production lines as a PIP , other times it waits for a bigger step change.

    • Would it be ever possible that Safran would buy out GE out of CFM?
      With the silvercrest, they seem to have aspirations to go for a full engine.

      • All the large fan manufacturers have major partners, sometimes they partner with each other. The size of the investment to design , develop & test , bring into service and then ramp up large scale production is often beyond even large companies like GE – who is no longer the financial powerhouse it once was.
        The troubles with Silvercrest are a good example of the issues if you try to do it all yourself.

        • Less try to doing it yourself and more picking a really bad technical approach.

          Partners spreads the cost and risk around.

          P&W while not in a formal alliance on the GTF, has MTU and the Japanese group from the V2500 involved as part of the supply chain (MTU quite heavily)

          Not published is the relationship be it risk sharing or a supplier.

    • I think GE feels the 797 will be another 757 with a limited volume, so while RR and PWA sort out their problems on other engine programs GE can sell Boeing an engine derived from the LEAP and GEnX pretty quickly with low risk and pretty cheap.
      If the 797 becomes the natural replacement for airlines growing out of the 737MAX8 and orders it by the thousands and Boeing demands super efficient engines to cover a higher selling price and slightly over weight design the PWA and RR geared fans might be the running candidates repeating the 757 engine history.
      GE is not in the financial situation anymore to pay Boeing 1/2 the development cost upfront in cash to be the exclusive engine.
      If Airbus respondes with the A322 with new bigger carbon wings and a RR geared fan or a PW1140G eating up the 797 from below thus leaving Boeing with the bigger 797-7 replacing most A330 and 787-8 doing “normal routes”. When the 797-7ER comes it will eat up the rest especeilly with engines 10-15% better SFC than the T1000/7000-TEN. Exciting times in 2019..

  3. “(Others, elsewhere, remain skeptical.)”

    With good reason. The A321XLR should get to market first and fall straight into the hands of the low cost specialists who will use it to both to carve off the incumbents customer base, and to create a new market entirely. Probably by flying from local airports where they’re already present, have crews, engineers and inventory.

    If I were a legacy carrier this would worry me, and I’d be looking at getting those XLRs myself asap.

    When the NMA gets to market, what market will there be?

    • “When the NMA gets to market, what market will there be?”

      That depends on how good the 797 will perform and how much it will cost. If Boeing gets it right with a super-lightweight carbon fuselage and a really cute geared super-efficient engine AND are able to produce it at a price below the A330 it will be a runaway success.

      A mediocre half-new engine, a compromise fuselage design (bad carbon / aluminum, whatever), a not very efficient (new) production system, and it will be a giant flop.

      In most cases projects like this end up somewhere in the middle between the two extremes.

      • A super-light structure would certainly be required, but that tends to be super-expensive. A really cute geared turbofan or similar would also be required, but there are A321s flying around with those today. In three or four years, they could be incrementally better than today too.

        If I wanted to fly from the UK to Hong Kong, say, and I could go Ryanair or Easyjet from my local airport to the Gulf and then another LCC to my destination, why would I spend money and time going to Heathrow or Gatwick (at not inconsiderable expense) and then fling money at the competition free cartel that is the world of legacy and flag carriers?

        I think a medium haul derivative of a type the LCCs are already flying has the potential to be a major disruptor. The NMA may find itself in a very different world from this one.

        • If the NMA is going to succeed, it needs at least one good engine (GTF)

          The next gen GTF will be another jump up, they are learning what they can do with it real world now.

          There is of course a possibility of a GE/CFM/PW collaboration. GE and PW have done well with the GP engine.

          Being Boeing I would not bet either way, as they demonstrator again recently, they can be amazingly stupid.

          The issue with the A321XLR is what is its pax load range tradeoff?

          If you have to drop passengers and or add tanks, then its a reduced economic machine.

          As for the A330-800, that laughable. Hey guys, just 5 gallons in each tank, we are a regional.

          • One option for an A320 derivative would be a tank in the horizontal stabilizer, like the A330 has. Not only would that increase the fuel volume, it would reduce the trim drag during cruise, without reducing hold volume.

            I assume an A320 derivative would have a new wing.

            I don’t know what the pax load/range tradeoff would be, for either that or the NMA.

        • If your height and or weight are hovering around the median , you don’t want to be on an LCC flight for more then 2 hours .

        • “If I wanted to fly from the UK to Hong Kong, say, and I could go Ryanair or Easyjet from my local airport to the Gulf and then another LCC to my destination, why would I spend money and time going to Heathrow or Gatwick”

          This is exactly the strategy AirBaltic is pursuing by connecting Riga and Abu Dhabi. They are doing with their 220-300’s.

          • They code share on that route with Etihad. It would be interesting to see the percentage of passengers that fly beyond AUH, and where they fly to.

    • Supposedly Delta wanted to be an NMA launch customer. I’m assuming BA will lock down a 50 ordered/50 option order. United, especially, and maybe American, would be good prospects. And, similiar to Delta, Qantas has Had BA discussions and shows strong interest in the NMA.

      • I’m not sure if LCCs have taken over the short haul American market the way that they’ve done in Europe.

        Say if BA (British Airways) ordered 50+ NMAs for delivery in 2026. Effectively they only operate out of London, and meanwhile Easyjet (say) could have been operating an extended range A320 derivative for four years.

        What I’m saying is that LCCs could take this market away from incumbent legacy and flag carriers and that the consequences for them could be very serious, especially if currently disconnected LCCs get together to sell each other’s tickets; I could fly from my local airport ten minutes down the road to somewhere on the East Coast with Easyjet say, and then transfer to Allegiant anywhere in the Continental US and indeed beyond. And vice versa. As I said, medium range narrowbodies in the hands of LCCs could be a game changing disruption to today’s status quo.

        And I hope so! I’d love to fly to the US with the ease and convenience that I fly today to Malage, Turkey or the Canary Islands.

        • BA will not buy NMA.
          LHR won’t have capapcity for NMA,
          I expect B797 more to operate on coast2coast routes in NA and in Asia, also on Eastcoast to B targets in Europe.
          Any big town to LHR would be an option for B77W, A380, A35k, B777x or B78X.

          • @Sash:
            “BA will not buy NMA.”
            Agree based on comments by IAG CEO mainly about timing of 797 EIS is a mismatch with BA/IAG needs.

            “LHR won’t have capapcity for NMA”
            Really? Then what are those legions of 320 family doing @ T5 & T3 everyday @ LHR? Also longer-term, what about those additional slots becoming available after LHR 3rd rwy is completed nex decade?

            “Any big town to LHR would be an option for B77W, A380, A35k, B777x or B78X.”
            No doubt. However, I’m totally unaware that the mission profile targeted by Boeing for 797 is intercon trunks while increasingly, recent BA route additions are NOT exactly “big town to LHR” such as AUS, PIT, KIX, etc.

      • Delta isnt the sort of of airline to be into EIS. It was into used airliners long before the other majors found advantages to doing so. It bought a refinery for a while as well – no longer necessary.
        The customers arent too concerned about being first into service, or keen on the sort of delays that a brand new plane will have

        • Hello Dukeof url,

          Regarding: “Delta isn’t the sort of airline to be into EIS. It was into used airliners long before the other majors found advantages to doing so.”

          That was certainly true when Richard Anderson was Delta CEO, but can anyone name a large Delta used aircraft purchase since Ed Bastian became Delta CEO in May 2016?

          In the excerpt below from the 8-6-2018 Airways Mag interview article at the link after the excerpt, Mr. Bastian isn’t sounding adverse to being an NMA launch customer.

          “Q: With that behind you, you’ve gone on record saying that Delta would consider Boeing’s NMA as a launch customer. In your opinion, what would that plane’s perfect specifications be to Delta?

          A: We think about that plane it would replace, the 767s and 757s.

          We have 80 767s, about a hundred 757s. We want something in the 225 to 275-seat category.

          We want to take advantage of the fuel efficiency and the lighter structure, the modern day amenities for that aircraft and I think the range is going to be an important determinant, as well as making certain Boeing isn’t overbuilding the aircraft.

          And that’s why we want to be in there if given the opportunity to be an early, early customer.”

          https://airwaysmag.com/interview/edbastian/

          • For Delta the A321-200 is a 192 seat aircraft, and the A321 neo will be a 197 seat aircraft. Getting an A321 derivative to the BOTTOM of the 225 to 275 seat range that Mr. Bastian states that Delta wants for its 757 and 767 replacement in the article I quoted above, would thus require adding at least 28 to 33 seats. If the added seats were all 6 abreast economy that would require about a 5 row stretch of the current A321. Delta would probably want to add a mix of first class and economy seats, so the stretch would need to be even more than 5 rows. Is a 5 or 6 row stretch and a range increase to about 5,000 miles (real world range, not sales department B.S. range) really possible without a new wing for the A321 and an engine whose thrust would be very close to that required for the NMA? Note that according to Bjorn Fehrm’s 11-14-18 paywall post “How Useful is an NMA, Part 6”, the real world range of the A321LR and A321XLR is significantly less than the sales department B.S. range, something that is also true for Boeing aircraft.

          • Regarding, in my post above: “Is a 5 or 6 row stretch and a range increase to about 5,000 miles (real world range, not sales department B.S. range) really possible without a new wing for the A321 and an engine whose thrust would be very close to that required for the NMA?”

            It just occurred to me that according to Bjorn Fehrm’s 11-14-18 paywall post: “How Useful is an NMA, Part 6″, all of the following aircraft fall short of a practical still air range of 5,000 nmi: A321LR, A321XLR, 797-6, and 797-7. According to Mr.Fehrm’s analysis, I should have instead set the range requirement to a practical still air range of 4,000 to 4,500 nmi, which allowing for a typical amount of sales department B.S., would correspond to sales department range of 5,000 to 5,500 nmi.

          • For Delta (you say in your post below) the A321 is a 192/197 seat aircraft. In the hands of charter/LCC operators though it’s up to 240, though not at max range. A stretch and a new wing and other sundry improvements could make such a machine a real competitor if it’s in the hands of low cost specialists (who already operate the type, have crews trained and inventory) and if it gets to the market significantly before the NMA and in sufficient numbers.
            The intricacies of wing design are not my forte, but I do note that Embraer decided to have three different versions of carbon fibre wing for the E2 versions of their E175, E190 & E195. A trim tank in the horizontal fin/horizontal stabilizer is also a possibility.

      • The legacy airlines need an aircraft between the A321 and 789/339 but as Chris Lee mention, to what extend has LLC’s changed the dynamic’s in the market which bring us back to the question of what the size of the NMA market will be.

        BA has missed the 757/767 replacement window and now wants to launch the NMA with what could be a non-optimal engine. Can see Airbus launching an aircraft in a couple of years when the next generation engines such as the ultrafan are available.

        • I don’t know there was that much of a 757 market, not a lot use it for that longer thing routes with full pax.

          That said, if there was window its minimized now though some continue to use it in the NMA space.

          I would say the engine would be optimal now if they can hit the specs, it just has no growth future.

  4. Signals earlier on from first tiers already confirmed the NMA is probably a go.

    The only thing IMO that could prevent a launch, is Sales indicating they can’t get negotiate enough margin on the 737MAX anymore and need a new NB after 2025.

    At this stage at Airbus the big question is the wing for a >100t MTOW medium range. Stick to a beefed up version of the current A321 wing or create a optimized bigger one for a new subseries.

    Or, and I would not entirely discount the option, go for a for something entirely new to fill the space between A321LR and A350-900 end of next decade. An A321LRX would fit in that scenario as a stop gab.

    • Time and cost most likely the big drivers for AB. Can see them going for ~100T MTOW with beefed up wing, +2000Klb (?) thrust engines and range somewhere between 4300-4500NM. The down side is that the current wing impacts on cruising speed.

      It will be relatively low cost and risk and as you said maybe a stop gap aircraft until something new, maybe even a “large” NSA, or an A321 stretch with new wing, 4 wheel bogies, 40Klb engines, etc…, depending on what the NMA turns out to be and the market wants.

    • I wonder if maybe an upscaled A220 wing would be just the right thing for a A321XLR. I’m sure Bombarier in Belfast would love to build for them.

  5. Rolls Royce has an engine almost ready for the NMA, it’s the TRENT 500 (556 to be precise) with the new advance core.

    • Why would any airline exec in his right mind ever again buy an RR engine? See Trent fiascos, and/or talk to Air New Zealand, ANA, and/or LATAM execs! (That word “Trent” should “curl their toes”! LOL)

      • Let alone why would anyone in their right mind put a old tech engine on a new aircraft?

        RR has shifted the Advance core to be the heart of the Ultra.

        Right now RR is a bad name in Boeing land – and rightfully so, the impact has hit every Trent 1000 operator and still has to be dealt with in the Ten.

        But oh, we have cut 45000 positions, that makes it all better.

        • You are right on Trent 1000 (same case with 900). But Trent XWB has been holding well and already gathered 3 million flying hours with 2 IFSDs.

          I believe we should give credit to RR on how they have been handling the issues and taking all the fire (in some way, rightly so). They have been making market leading engines right from RB211 (Yes, L1011 was a miss, but 50% of issues were with airframe). Trent 700 is a market leader on A330, Trent800 is a market leader on B777 on which it was offered (lighter and efficient than GE90s) Trent 500 and now Trent XWB, all wonderful engines.

          GE and PW had to join hands to go against RR on A380, still ~70% A380 customers opted Trent 900. However, this engine, along with Trent 1000 turned out to be not at “Rolls Royce” level/standard. Trent 1000 engine enjoyed early success by being most reliable engine for B787, GE had shaft failures, Icing issues at that time. Eventually GE fixed most of them and ended up being the best engine for B787.

          These are not simple machinery we are talking about, and “..we have cut 45000 positions, that makes it all better” attitude would have pushed RR into oblivion long ago. I believe every manufacturer will go trough tough times at least once in their life span. GE as a group and PW are in these times now. RR, with limited resources compared to a behemoth like GE, is able to stand firmly and face all of this professionally and doing its best to correct the mistake it has committed. Its lives and livelihood of thousands of people at stake in these circumstances, I would say, we can do better than mocking as an audience.

          All being said, I hope RR has learnt valuable lessons from this debacle and emerge a successful company. Only time will tell if RR will be part of future programs

          • Well the issue is that you are up to your neck in problematic engines and you fire 4000+ people, your stock goes up. That helps you how in a crisis?

            Has RR learned valuable lessons? We will not know for some time and don’t know now.

            What we can see between he fence slats is that RR over promised an improvement on the Trent 900 and did not deliver. They also have blade issues of some sort on that engine. It showed up poorly against a consortium engine of the GP alliance (and numbers of engines is more important than number of airlines, ie Emirates choose it) .

            This also ignores that they had a flow anomaly in the 1000, transferred it to the Ten as well as the Trent 7000 (enough with the Trent already, call it the Thames or something and or come up with a logical model progression, sheese.)

            As its based off the 1000, it has the same issues. It was only recently they figured out the harmonic.

            Where that leaves the XWB I do not know (which is not a river)

            Its going to be some time before we see anything about lessons learned (or not learned)

            But laying off 4000+ people when you are scrambling certainly looks bad in my eyes.

            The regulators are concerned enough about the 7000 to put it in the same restricted ETOPs as the 1000 and Ten.

            Those engines will need new fan blades as well which is time out of service and another impact to anyone operating it.

            RR has long bragged how good the 3 spool was, but it was less capable than the GenX (fule burn and maint). GE fixed the shaft issue immediately (and yes that was a bad thing).

            The icing continues to be an issue but also has a fix of sorts (RR had that same issue on the 777 and resolved it with a throttle on move to clear it before landing)

            Neither one is flawed, they both ran into a design issue that lent itself it something they had not seen before.

            In the meantime GenX continues its fuel improvements based on the original engine engine not a replacement.

            The 75% new Tent 10 has the same issues the 1000 did and is not an impressive fuel burn improvement over the 1000 despite all the new stuff put into it.

            Its now maybe on par with the GenX. You should get 6 to 8% jump using the latest tech. More like 3%.

            Long term will have to see how they do getting out from under the current mess and how well the XWB engine does

            GE is having its issue now as well, but not engine related as organizational and stay tuned there as well.

    • Hahahah…no. No one wants that old-tech nonsense. RR is in no position to pitch a “TRENT” to anyone, right now.

      • @Neutron73 of course RR is not pitching the Trent to anyone. They have already abandoned that architecture and focus all their development resources (besides fixing the in-service models) to the new Advance and Ultrafan design.

        By the way, I understand that the Advance is really only a development engine to redistribute the loads between the high and medium pressure spools. They need more stages on the high pressure spool to be able to combine the medium und low pressure spool/stages.

        The only chance for the Advance to become a service engine was probably with the A380neo, but we all know where this went.

        • We will see what engine will be installed on the A350neo, my bet it is the RR Advance and it might get onto the A380neo as its wings will accept the A350neo powerplant with nacelle for the inboard engines and simpler non T/R nacelle on engine #1 and #4. Just like the 767-300ER and 747-400 could interchange engine and nacelle parts with some SB and data plate work.
          The A330neo-800 might be the ugly duckling for now in the airlines nests of 787-8’s, but Airbus might work hard on it to get empty mass down and get it very flexible and reliable for a mix of short-medium-long rang flying. We will see in a few years how it can perform as 100’s of modifications are rolled in.

  6. Paris Airshow will be interesting, if not purely to see AB and BA show their cards.

    A newly winged a321 as a base model with an a322 as a stretch (with a boarding door 2) and an a320 (if needed – neo seems fine to me in this size) is where I’d go at AB but I suspect they’ll just mess with the tanks – which is cool but a bit half-assed as the AB fleet cross-sections are pretty solid and future proof, and a jump ahead would be wise now instead of an adjustment.

    The way AB did the a350-1000 wing (extending flaps) as opposed to wider wing may be a good idea for keeping the size tight from a 321 to a 322.

    Anywho… Onto Paris 😀

    • Well, Airbus has had 30+ years to build such an A322 and haven’t done it yet, but then again I didn’t see the 737-10 happening. As much as Airbus got right with the A320 wing I can’t see it making sense to float another stretch onto it now.

      With the NMA/NSA duo likely coming in sequence over the next 10 to 15 years, it will be interesting but I doubt Airbus tries to stick with the A320 once Boeing commits to a new narrowbody. Too much money in the duopoly to have a frame/major model even a half generation behind (see: launch of Max/NEO).

        • I would have to agree. The range is not the big market. I think the selling point is the 3m to 4m stretch. 18 to 24 more seats on 1000nm or 1500nm flights. Also, this stretch is a very good option for premium configured aircraft, American, JetBlue, for flights of 2500nm to 3000nm.

          • That is where the head scratching comes in.

            Now they are all trans con (US) capable and most don’t do trans continental.

            So why the range extension that keeps extending.

            Whats the cross over? The got themselves out of short range (except when they do short range).

            Delta is the only one that has a spread of seats and ranges covered in a out of scope aircraft.

        • It depends on the time of the day, Many A321XLR’s will do full days work and then finish the day with a Trans Atlantic dash, refuel and Clean cabin + snags+MEL’s and do another crossing for a new days hard work. Working them this hard makes for carbon fiber wings+wingbox+ corrosion sensitive parts of the fuselage. The design then creeps up in cost and time to certification, but is there any option for Airbus when the 797 comes along with similar engines and carbon wing+wingbox and I assume mixed carbon, Ti, Li-Al fuselage?

          • That’s what Aer Lingus will be doing with their (now) 12+ LRs.

            Afternoon out to to North America, back from 5am, then rotated into first wave of popular business heavy routes to ferry on TATL connecting and local passengers in a proper business class.

            More ways to make money with a LR/XLR if wisely configured and a scheduled into fleets.

            AB need to ensure they don’t make it ‘too much’ airplane, and ensure it can efficiently do short/med/low-long routes.

            Business seats can (and are) sold as extra-space seats with buy-onboard service on less business’y routes so you can still get a little extra money. From what I understand, it costs only a little more to fly an a321 vs. a an a320 in terms of fuel etc. With ~180 seats in EIs LRs, that’s the same cabin crew as an a320 also… So again… Makes sense and gives flexibility.

            (Using EI as example as it’s a known config and route plan).

        • Thanks, interesting reading which led me to the delivery of the 1st TAP 339 and also brought me to the other end of the market.

          Believe there is a significant future need for short-medium haul aircraft for high density routes. An A350-1000, ~4.5m stretch 339, 320 pax (+30-40), 68Klb engines, MTOW 130T-135T, 4500-5000Nm range could form the upper end of the 220-320 seat short-medium haul market, and be relatively low cost to develop and manufacture (in aircraft terms)?

          • Meant to be A330-1000. A freighter version of this aircraft could tap into the 777F market eventually.

    • Was wondering how much stretch can the A321 take before tail strike becomes a real issue? Would love to see an A322/3 with 4 wheel bogies and new wing.

      But now we are starting to talk big bucks and in the red zone when it comes to boarding and de-planing which I imagine will be a big BA-NMA marketing point, which is valid.

      Don’t know what the NMA specs will land up being but a 250-270 seater with 4000-4500Nm range will definitely be good for the market beyond 2030 where airline needs could grow from the A321 to such an aircraft that will give fast turnaround on the ground, especially for flights less than 3 hours.

      • You can tail strike an A321 handsomely as it is. The one I saw was done on landing and it took out 8′ of lower fuselage skin.

        • Think the A322 will have +2 containers fwd wing and +1 aft wing stretch and a 4 wheel landing gear with pivot on the aft axis making up for increased tailstrike margin, hence a fly by wire Aircraft should not really experience tailstrikes flying in “normal mode”.

      • I can’t see the NMA actually being configured in 250 seats (in actual service). It has to leave room for an “A322” size NSA little brother. The latter (2707?) model is to be the middle child NSA, right around 220-240 seats.

        NMA will have to…do more, with bigger engines and more pax, while killing any A32x/NSA economics on routes it is used on.

  7. as much as I would love to see a “new 767” from Boeing, it seems to me that “gen 3” of the A32x series, rewinged with downward folding wingtips (for C gate compatibility), double bogey main gear, some GLARE or CF panels in the fuselage to trim weight without having to redo the primary structure (particularly in low-ramp-rash areas), a 110T MTOW and “growth” GTFs with 37-39k engines doesn’t win here.

    it will always have a lower drag/lighter weight advantage, the major downsides being fuse length and boarding times. dev costs would be less than half NMA, in the ballpark of 777X dev costs but without the complexity introduced by sheer physical size..

    • Hello bilbo,

      Regarding” “gen 3” of the A32x series” … ” will always have a lower drag/lighter weight advantage”.

      This certainly seems to be a common belief in the comments section here; however, it is a belief that Bjorn Fehrm has found not to be true in several series of paywall posts about the NMA and potential competitors over the last several years.

      Below is an excerpt is from the free introduction of Mr. Fehrm’s 11-14-18 paywall post “How Useful is an NMA, Part 6”. The “compared types referred to are the A321LXR and the A330-800.

      “Summary:
       When comparing the NMA with its competitors, the same cabin type and ruleset must be used for all aircraft.
       Using a common ruleset and measuring over typical long range operation, the NMA will be the most economical aircraft of the compared types.”

      Below is an excerpt is from the free introduction of Mr. Fehrm’s 4-6-17 paywall post “Could an NMA be made good enough, Part 3?”

      “We will investigate the dimensions, the drag and the weight of an NMA fuselage. It will be based on the cabin and design techniques we described in Part 2. We then compare the efficiency of the result with the fuselages of the Airbus A321LR and Boeing 767. This will show if the necessary efficiency can be achieved.

      Summary:
       It’s possible to design a dual aisle fuselage with the same perimeter per seat abreast as a single aisle fuselage.
       This will make the central, cylindrical, section have competitive weight and drag characteristics.
       The larger diameter of the dual aisle fuselage will increase the size of the tapered front and rear sections however.
       It’s still possible for an NMA fuselage to be as weight-efficient as a single aisle fuselage, measured per transported passenger.

      • Correction to my post above.

        The following:

        “The “compared types referred to are the A321LXR and the A330-800.”

        should have instead been as follows.

        The “compared types” referred to are the A321XLR (not LXR), the A330-800, and the 787-8.

        • The tradeoffs reduce the 797 gains.
          Optimising perimeter/per seat , is seen as reducing bottom cargo hold lobe size. While cargo has less yield than passengers , for passenger jets which have higher frequencies, they can get higher prices for ‘must go today’ delivery, while ‘must go this week’ can wait for cargo only flights
          Wing span isnt mentioned but its possible to improve fuel burn just by increasing span ( 777X is the classic example) but its less important for shorter range. A bigger span means the most common gates are ruled out.
          Cost of development and production which affects the price airlines pay hasnt been mentioned, maybe because the numbers are all terrible compared to existing single aisles

          As the A380 shows , a bigger plane is great , except when it isnt full all the time. And the biggest lesson over the last 10 years are a smaller plane with more range will beat a larger plane over the same distances for most flights and airlines. This is why many see a 797 as a niche ( in modern terms) plane.

          • One of the issues is Asia wants more freight, US (and others?) not so much.

            Keeping in mind this is not a sole machine, it will operate in a network with 737/A320 that also have some spare belly space.

            I have yet to see a declined Gold Streak shipment to Anchorage.

            Regional and out of region are not huge freight ops, too many other choices and numbers of flight that can and do cover the Streak type shipments.

      • @AP_Robert so, clearly the compared aircraft do not include what I was suggesting. they include the same wing/engine 321lxr with just more fuel and fewer pax.

        if you read my comment I was referring to a carbon rewinged C at the gate D on the runway, with improved engines, lightened fuselage and a higher MTOW “A322 gen3”.

        I don’t have paywall access, but from the description of the NMA in your post would seem to sacrifice LD3-45 compatibility and end up with less belly volume than the an equivalent pax A32x gen3

        of course this would only hit the small end of the NMA space in any case….

      • I’m not sure this stands up to scrutiny. Modelling a 6 abreast single aisle fuselage I get a circular circumference of 1.99m per passenger. Using the same rules for a 7 abreast twin aisle, I get a figure of 2.20m per passenger. So comparing circular cross sections favours the single aisle in terms of ‘efficiency’.
        If you make the twin aisle elliptical in cross section you can get it down to 1.99m per passenger, but you need an ellipse with eccentricity 0.59 where 0 is circular and 1 is a straight line. You can get an idea by looking at your [circular?] coffee cup from 36 degrees off the vertical. That would give you a fuselage section 4.9m wide but only 4.0m tall. Narrowbody height, widebody width.
        If you did build such a structure, it would still have more cross sectional area (35% more than the single aisle) and assumptions about its weight would have to factor in an increase to resist large pressurisation loads out of plane – e.g. bending the fuselage back into a circle.
        Of course, the pax carrying section would be a little shorter, but not by much (20% shorter, door spaces, nose and tail section tapering from a wider start would reduce that down to about 7% shorter in the complete aircraft). In all the wetted area would still be larger and so would the cross sectional area and weight.
        But this is not a surprise – this is the reason that the NMA requires more powerful engines, more thrust to match higher drag. Absent a significant improvement in s.f.c. and given the same number of pax (the low end of the 220-280 range) it’s hard to see how an elliptical cross section alone can make a twin-aisle aircraft competitive with a narrowbody. Making the aircraft longer – e.g. ditching the 225 seat version would seem wise. 260-280 seats sure, but it each one kills a 787-8 or A330-9 sale.

        • the 767 is a vertically stacked double bubble so that they could get the big LD2 containers in the belly.
          going with a same width but circular cross section and lowering the floor as low as possible to be able to use LD3-45’s would reduce crossectional area, increase shoulder and seat room compared to the 767.

          what nobody seems to be talking about is a side by side double bubble, 10 wide based on A320 sized cylindrical sections (or 8 wide based on A22o sections)

          the necessary tension keel could easily be made in a way that it would just appear to be narrow floor to ceiling cables placed in concert with the seat rows so as to not obstruct exit to either side

        • All correct Chris.
          I would further add that any improvement to SFC will benefit a circular single-aisle fuselage airplane just as much as it would the elliptical twin-aisle NMA. The supposed advantages of the elliptical twin in boarding time and passenger comfort matter very little to the margin seeking airline operations particularly on longer routes, and a twin-aisle fuselage clearly makes the NMA have higher drag, be heavier and ultimately cost more to operate than a single-aisle plane of same technology level and passenger count, so long as a reasonable single-aisle can be configured.

          Cautionary note regarding airplane analysis accuracy: empirical models, such as those used to compare single aisle and twin aisle NMA aircraft in a series of articles on LNC, have some shortcomings. Within the industry, empirical models for weight, drag, and performance estimation are considered to have ±5% uncertainty (or 10% total error band around each). Some empirical models inherently assume certain things about the underlying design one is trying to evaluate. Here is an example to illustrate how they can produce misleading results: all empirical fuselage drag models assume that the length of the tapering aftbody section of the fuselage is selected reasonably long to prevent flow separation and substantial drag hits that one would get for having separated flow on the aft body. These models can be easily fooled if you attempt to calculate drag for a comically short aftbody: they will indicate a reduced drag (caused by the lowered wetted area). Now if you analyze the same fuselage using a full Navier-Stokes CFD you may calculate as much as 50% more drag on that same geometry.
          Results of empirical analysis must be viewed with caution, specially when the metrics being compared are fairly close (i.e. within 10%). The basic principles of aircraft design will always come home, no matter what the reduced order model for the airplane predicts.

        • Around ~260 seats in a typical 2 class layout looks about right for the base model. This could land up being around 220 (?) seats in 3 class comfort layout whereas an A321 will be around 160.

      • You can make an Aircraft “too long” like the 757-300 (too long turn around times) and A340-600 (too heavy). Still not easy to design a widebody of 2+4+2 or 3+3+3 seating to an capital+operating cost similar to an extended 3+3 Aircraft. As diameter increase so do hoop stress and mass. Drag in M0.87 flight is cross section dependent and airspeed can locally go supersonic as air needs to get around a fat cross section and increase drag or you have to go down to 767 speeds.
        Your best chance is to wrap carbon structure around the 2+4+2 pax cabin for min mass and min cross section, maybe using mid cabin spars like on the MIT Drela D3 and have an optimal length/width ratio with new super efficient Engines and all carbon wing+winbox. Still that cost approx. $20bn in Aircraft development/production setup and certification and Another $5-10bn for the Engine development/engione type and certification that should be repaid with 1000-1500 Aircrafts delivered for “narrowbody prices” including Engines to beat the A322 economics and speed. Boeing is aming for another “Moon shot” and we like it.

  8. What allows for a taller gear on an airliner? A new wing, or a new wing box? Does the landing gear attach to the wing or the wing box? Asking regarding the A322, or 777x if the possibility was there for taller gear?

  9. What’s ballpark for the fan diameter on the NMA, for a non-geared engine? 90″, or at 50K are we talking 100″? Is mission creep making the NMA engine too heavy and draggy already?

    • Ted:

      I suggest some good reading.

      Wolfgang Langowitz (sp?) with his Stick and Rudder is a good start.

      Wars between Wrights and Curtis a good reading.

      Wikipedia has some great description of things.

  10. Without an all new wing on the A321xlr / A322, Airbus is just 737-10ing the platform. A good idea, but they can only get so much with the sub-sized, sub-optimal components they are working with.

    • Just to irk the detractors the A320 platform seem to still have more potential for upgrade than the fully MAXed out 737. 🙂

        • How did the 747-8 come along? 6 per year now , half that of the 380
          They spent half the development money of the 380 ( before over runs) and it was only a stretch and a little bit of FBW for load alleviation.

          • Duke:

            You are aware the A380 is going to rate 6?

            You are aware Air France is dumping 5 of their leased A380?

            Both have issues, stay tuned to see if F type wins out over P type!

        • Economy in EK A380 layout nice to fly in, beats the 777’s in 3-4-3 hands down from a pax point of view.

  11. 2 key recent observations re 321XLR vs 797:
    1. Recent comments by Airbus seems to indicate that rapidly reaching the mkt(a.k.a. EIS) is the overall strategic priority for the 321XLR if launched. That’s practically ruling out many speculations here about Airbus playing with a new wing design, 322/stretch, new clean-sheet narrowbody(whatever that is) or a new engine family beyond LEAP /PW1000G, etc. for the 321XLR.

    IMHO, it’s an extremely sensible competitive strategy in this case:
    Low risk/investment to quickly grab as many potential low-end 797 sales as possible…weakening the already shaky NMA biz case for Boeing. I suspect many folks here eager to propose radical tech changes to 321LR to make 321XLR failed to realize that for Airbus, the primary strategic mission of the 321XLR is not about being a super 321…..it just need to be better than 321LR or closer to 797 in terms of payload/range(321LR already matched or won fuel burn per seat vs any small widebody such as 797) but MUST reach the mkt much quicker than 797.

    2. Various comments by potential 797 suppliers(e.g. CFM) & customers are increasingly pointing toward Boeing’s smallest NMA family member will practically be the spiritual successor to the 767-200ER or A310 in terms of mission type, function and seat count. Recall both debuted in the early 80s with turbofans around the 50k lbs thrust class and that’s what CFM is talking about today for 797.

    On the other hand, the shortest range 787 variant(i.e. 78J, not 788) fly about 6,400nm under Boeing nominal while 321XLR is targeted for about 4,700nm under Airbus nominal – a capability gap of about 1,700nm not accounting for diff in weight assumptions to calculate their nominals. Assuming Boeing’s product plan is logical, max range for any 797 variant(likely the variant closest in seat count to a 321 or nearly identical to a 753 like the 762 was) should exceed 321XLR but remain below any 787. Split the diff and we get the max range 797 variant targeted for about 5,600nm i.e. still about 25% less range than 788 but more interestingly, right around where 762ER was if we use Boeing’s current, tougher OEW/cabin config assumptions to calculate 762 range.

    I see such a 797 has little or nothing to do with being a direct 757 replacement nor technically comparable with 321XLR while still maintaining a significant distance fm the 788 product positioning.

    • A small stretch would be a smaller investment than an A321ReWing, just like the MAX 10. I wonder if there would be any benefit to putting folding wingtips on the existing wing, 2.5m each giving it a 41m wingspan, instead of the Sharklets?

    • Must agree with you, an A321XLR should be low cost and risk, an A321+ possibly a moderate (3 row?) stretch with 3500NM range and similar MTOW as the XLR.

      For the cost of an all new wing and major components changes Airbus could be better of to build an “all new” family of larger single aisles (A321/2/3) based on the A220/CS technologies and next generation of PW/CFM/(RR?) engines for EIS around 2028 (10 years) that will have a 30+ year life.

      In the smaller than 200 seat markets an A320+, A220-300/(500?) could be good for another 20 years even if BA launches an NSA/FSA.

  12. A new carbon wing could be quickly introduced if they use the wing box and factory of the A220 ( Cseries). Its usually forgotten that the A220 and A320 wings are the same span due to fitting the same sized gates . Go bigger wing span and you have to flag away the most common gates and go to the next size up, used for 757 and 767s.
    of course the detail wing design such as profile and flaps would be different but the current wing is fairly close and existing factory and auto mated machinery would be fine.
    The current A320 wing dates back to the late 70s , and hasnt been changed much , unlike Boeing who redid the entire wing for the 737 and gained a significant weight advantage. ( which is used to have engines of lower T/O thrust).
    And why wouldnt you save billions in development costs and years to bring into service by doing it this way.

    • I think the A320 is late eighties and I don’t any A220/CSeries wing taking 100t through a heavy turbulence. Still I agree the wing is the most critical question for Airbus. I always assumed the LEAP-A and PW1100 basic components are designed to work up to 40k lbs.

      • What was called SA ( single aisle) in late 70s , was only named A320 in Feb 81.
        Rollout and EIS of late 80s, meant it was about 10 years before that when detailed studies began.
        The computer analysis for the wing design process that was possible in the early 80s would be a fraction of what is possible now days, alongside what can be done for load alleviation using the FBW controls ( and their computer processors). Load alleviation can mean lower structure weight

        • Agreed on the older A320 wing desing. Its done well but its not up to date.

          While I don’t know where Boeing saved weight on the 737 for sure, the fuselage issue argue it was there.

    • @Dukeofurl:
      “A new carbon wing could be quickly introduced”
      Pls define “quickly”. Historically, no airliner manufacturer has ever managed to go fm program launch to cert in less than 5yrs whenever integrating a new wing design with an existing fuselage. If 321XLR will be launched within the nex 12mths, delivery will be in 2025 earliest if fiddles with a new wing….totally against a rapidly reaching the mkt mandate of Airbus for 321XLR.

      “…if they use the wing box and factory of the A220”
      U must be kidding if U think adapting the 220 family wingbox for the 32o family is easier to develop+certify than doing a completely new wing….

      As for the 220 factory, that’s the only reason why based on historical precedence, 5yrs is theoretically possible for a new wing on a 321XLR. If building a new wing factory fm scratch like Boeing effectively did for 77X, fm program launch to cert for 321XLR will be more like 6-7yrs.

      “And why wouldnt you save billions in development costs and years to bring into service by doing it this way”
      Because by historical precedence and being realistic, U may save billions in development costs but U won’t save years to bring into service by doing it that way.

      • Boeing has news for you about adapting an existing carbon wing design The 777X is of course using the existing fuselage.

        ““In general, the reason we have have so much confidence in the performance of wing is we’re using the same material systems as the 787 wing. We understand the 787 wing very well,” said Bob Feldmann, general manager of the 777X program, in a meeting with journalists on Tuesday.
        “We’re evolving the architecture of the 787 wing to fit this bigger airplane,” he said.
        https://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2014/05/01/heres-the-777x-wing-secret-its-just-a-longer-787.html

        Why wouldnt Airbus take the quicker(years) cheaper ( billions) and existing industrial process of the Northern Ireland factory when the span is ‘the same’

        This isnt really new as existing metal wings have been adapted before , Airbus did it for the bigger A340-500/600 series. They did a smaller wing for the A310.
        The military did it as well. The very first production carbon fibre wing was for the AV8B, adapted onto the existing AV8/Harrier fuselage.
        Large turbofan engines follow the same adapation process all the time. It happened with the very early jet liners, when P&W and GE had to compete with the RR Conway ( which was bypass from the beginning)

        • @Dukeofurl:
          “Boeing has news for you…”
          And Boeing also has news for you too(but really just old news) re 77X in case U are still unaware of:
          Program launch date: Nov 2013
          Targeted cert date: End 2019(if Boeing is really lucky this time without any supplier+test+cert hiccups)

          So still require 6yrs development duration only for “…adapting an existing carbon wing design” that’s already in production for 787 program.

          “”In general, the reason we have have so much confidence in the performance of wing… is we’re using the same….understand the 787 wing very well,” said Bob Feldmann”
          1st of all, this is simply Boeing PR….we wouldn’t realistically expect Boeing to describe it in any other way, would we? 2ndly, notice Bob only described Boeing’s “confidence” “in the performance” but nothing about related work can be done in record time or quicker than usual….

          “Why wouldnt Airbus take the quicker(years)….”
          Because it won’t be quicker in reality & per aerospace industry historical precedence re similar wing design changes for an existing fuselage.

          “…when the span is ‘the same’..”

          1. If Airbus theoretically(though I don’t believe that’s the reality re Airbus strategy) really want to splurge on a new CFRP wing for 321XLR, do U honestly think it’ll definitely be @ the same maximum span as today’s 320Neo /220 families instead of using this golden opportunity to build in greater lift capability+better aero efficiency potentials thru a larger span @ ICAO Code D same as the good old 757?

          2. If such new CFRP wing span is foldable a la 77X to stay within Code C gate width on the ground, realistically how much will remain structurally/technically common across the 220 wing and a 321XLR wing to minimize the necessary adaptation in design /”industrial process” /cert process?

          3. 330Ceo and 350 also hv largely similar wingspan @ Cat E. Choosing to stay within Code E is logical but why didn’t Airbus “adapt” the 350 CFRP wing for 330Neo development even though 330Neo now ended up with an almost identical wingspan as the 350? If adapt 220 wing for 321XLR is “easy”, adapting 350 wing for 330Neo should hv been even easier since both programs were conceived+born 100% in-house unlike 220 vs 321XLR.

          “…existing metal wings have been adapted before”
          Yes, that’s why I mentioned precedence repeatedly.

          “…Airbus did it for the bigger A340-500/600 series.”
          Notice that “adaptation” still occurred within the same legacy 340 platform/fuselage. Adaptation of 220 wing for 321XLR will not only be across platforms/fuselages, it’ll be across entire products bred independently by 2 diff aerospace companies.

          “…did a smaller wing for the A310.”
          Notice that “adaptation” still occurred within the same legacy 300 platform/fuselage. Same story re how diff that was fm adapting 220 wing for 321XLR.

          “…first production carbon fibre wing was for the AV8B, adapted onto the existing AV8/Harrier fuselage”
          But that CFRP wing on AV8 wasn’t adapted from any other existing bird…..it was a new clean-sheet design wing specifically for AV8 and for nothing else b4 that bird.

          “Large turbofan engines follow the same adapation process”
          That’s diff. Engines are relatively easier to adapt/modify for use across various airframe platform designs unlike wing designs.

          • Boeing had 2 issues for the slow pace of 777X. They had existing commitments for the higher priority 787 and 737 Max.
            As for the 787 wing, it was made in Japan, while the 777X wing is made in Washington, so Boeing had to transition to building a carbon fibre wing in their own plant ( including autoclaves)for the first time. So has to learn that process , which isnt easy. [For the 787 all the carbon fibre fuselage and wing sections were done by sub-contractors, except for the SC plant Boeing took on from Vought after it was up and running]
            Notice Im saying ‘saving time’ using Bombardiers existing factory with its machines and skilled high tech workers.
            The other issue for Boeing is the pace of GE9X engine development.
            If I had any say for an Airbus A321XLR, I would add the full Cseries carbon fibre empennage ( adapted of course) and that weight saving when the wings are included might allow existing ( or adapted ) GTF engines to be used. All for a price a new plane cant compete with.

  13. Another way to look at this is to put humanity’s need to be carbon neutral in 2050, and then work backwards from there. It seems that next generation fossil fuel single aisle airplanes might risk being banned from the shortest routes in some markets halfway through their life span (and in some countries 5-10 years after 1st delivery, assuming 2030-35 launch), and therefore it’s imho probable that Boeing and Airbus will optimize their next gen fossil fuel single aisles for longer routes and more seats. Which could further erode the NMA’s long term market. But this could also play out quite differently. Right now many people will laugh at this prediction, but I think public opinion will change drastically in the next 5 to 6 years (I have anecdotal evidence to suggest this), so in 2025 Boeing could be 2 years away from NMA 1st delivery and in full panic mode. Or quite the opposite.

    • Maybe a reaction to this would be more rail mass transportation that is easily adaptable to electric power in many high traffic corridors. For example, today there must be twenty flights (guessing) between MSP and Chicago. For years they’ve talked about adding a high speed train.

      • Swing by Milwaukee on the way!.

        I do agree, fast train in various corridors (East Coast, West coast North end and South) makes far more sense.

        Unfortunately costs are high and they are islands.

        • @Transworld:
          “Unfortunately costs are high”
          Probably an understatement.

          Though it is an extreme example due to unprecedented tech+terrain challenges, the new maglev bullet train line between Tokyo and Osaka currently under construction costs @ least USD90 billion(i.e. way more than the combined program cost of 380, 787, 350 and 77X) and the 1st section between Tokyo and Nagoya is taking 13yrs to complete(more than 3 terms of U.S. presidency)……just imagine how much longterm political commitment is required for this type of project.

          And at the end, such HSR line is still limited to serve cities along only 1 fixed route….unlike airplanes.

          • I would hate to have to buy the property to make that work. High cost relestate at any connection (take over Amtrak right of way?)

            Not sure its past the combined cost of the above (25 billion for A390- and 34 or so for 787)

            Aircraft truly far more flexible.

            Getting Airport expansion these days though……

            Denver is the only one I think is good forever (they moved way out of town and grabbed a huge chunk of Prairie so they did not get blocked in)

            Narita is way out of town (or used to be) but those pesky farmers have them boxed in.

            California is working on an LAS to SFO – not sure that is a winner, 400 miles jump or so. BART is pretty cool if dated.

            The Portland Tacoma Seattle link would make sense.

          • @Transworld:
            “Not sure its past the combined cost of the above (25 billion for A390- and 34 or so for 787) ”
            U may be right. Still, the Tokyo-Osaka maglev bullet train line construction will cost more than the 2 current major widebody programs and possibly 3…..despite aircraft programs are planned to serve pretty much all routes worldwide while the Tokyo-Osaka maglev is only good for 1 geog(albeit the busiest geog in Japan) of a single domestic mkt.

            “Narita is way out of town (or used to be) but those pesky farmers have them boxed in.”
            U’ll be surprised how much local attitude has changed these days re major expansion of NRT. In a nutshell, the prevailing NRT community attitude now is that they generally want the expansion and are supporting approval by the local NRT politicians(correction: APPROVED since Mar this yr):
            https://www.knaviation.net/narita-third-runway

            Most of them now realize that they’re leaving way too much $ on the table(i.e. local econ growth linked to NRT) if continuing to resist NRT expansion….

          • I have followed it and they are doing a lot better.

            As there is no eminent domain in Japan, you have to meet their price.

            What I would not be to be the last rice farmer on the paddies to negotiate! May be a generational shift here in play.

            On the other hand, when the Supremes said Eminent domain could be used to remove you for a hotel………………….

            Keep it balanced seems vastly better.

          • The Chinese can lay new high speed railroad tracks pretty quick nowdays. Having a new chinese immigration to build railroads in the US would repeat the old Great Transcontinental Railroad. With global heating making more US farm land dry it can be done cheaper as technology advances and land getting dryer and worth less especially in locations with contaminated ground water from oil fracking.

      • Minneapolis Chicago flights per day?

        Think closer to 35, including Midway.
        As shown on Google flights

    • Ho hum. GE has the bulletin out, most are fixed.

      Kind of like the Trent 900 on the oil pipe. Bad deal if it manifests but easily fixed.

  14. Airbus doesn’t have the capability to design a new wing for the A322, that’s why it hasn’t stretched the A321. Filton where the wings are designed has slowly been reduced in numbers by Toulouse to the bare bones ( easier to reduce numbers in the UK than Germany and France because of employment laws). The design office is half empty, and the chances of getting back the 777-X guys when there’s a NMA on the horizon is zero.

    • @Jan: Seriously, you don’t think Airbus hasn’t already designed a new wing for an “A322?” Of course it has. It’s been on the shelf for a couple of years already.

      • Scott: I am sure its too dusty to use by now!

        Spiders in the fuel tanks and all that.

      • Scott, Airbus has been practicing on a wing with the main aim to achieve 60 per month that is far to small with no systems installed and doesn’t work. So no their is nothing on the self.

  15. A few thoughts:
    1. There was much talk about overcrowding of airports by our frequent contributors when it was justifying the A380, but the NMA may actually reduce traffic even more in Hub-to-Hub routes (like 757’s and 767’s are used today in the US). At LHR a few years back the average pax count of the planes was 150 seats. Moving this up by 50% would be a huge reduction in flights. This alone might make it attractive to airlines like BA. Asia has a similar need.
    2. Delta (and the former NW) were the launch customers (and largest users) of the 767-400, 757-300, L-1011 and MD-11. These are the planes the NMA are replacing. So it is within the realm of possibility they would be a launch customer.
    3. The A321 is up against the MGW of tandem main gear (the 757 is roughly 20t more in it’s original configuration has four wheel bogies. Changing to four wheels forces redesign of the rear spar, MLG beam, Wheel wells and mid-body structure. CG is now thrown off and weight goes up…so this is a major change. Once your are this far you will start updating systems…
    4. No one has built a composite wing or fuselage at more than 12/month. Scaling up to the rates SA’s currently are built at (which took A and B decades to do) is not a trivial feat.
    5. If you made all the 322 changes suggested you could no longer build them on the same lines so you lose much of the economies of production the SA’s enjoy.

    I have no doubt AB will offer 321 variants that will trade range/pax count and eat away at the bottom of the NMA market. I doubt it will make sense for them to make any big changes and try to split an already small market.

    • @GT62: There was a four-wheel bogey A320 operated by Indian Airlines, so this work has been done. Something like only 40 airplanes were so equipped. What would be the challenges of dusting this off for the A321?

    • @gt62 re 3: I believe there is already a two axle bogie main gear option for the A321 (or the A321 was designed from the get go to accommodate it)

      re 4: at one time no one had made CF wings at all. Boeing is currently at 14 pairs a month for 787 and will soon be adding another 7-10 pairs a month for 777x and Airbus is going to 12/mo for A350. technology moves on, manufacturing engineering works, rates will be achievable.

      Re 5: I think you underestimate the flexibility of modern assembly lines.

      • Carbon fibre currently needs large autoclaves for wing co-curing. Thats the limiting factor.
        I dont see the backlog for the 777X leading to 7-10 pairs of wings a month in the next decade- the 777-300ER/F had that market to themselves which is no longer the case as the A350 and 787-10 have a big chunk now.

  16. Two vastly different design strategies in play from AB and BA.

    AB = Low rent parts bin special with a focus on increasing the range beyond the current 4K NM threshold.

    MTOW speculation points to a 3% or a 5% increase based on a similar improvement on the engine front. Consequently low risk, low cost and low investment attempt to expand the performance envelope of the A321 platform.

    That leaves the door open for the true Neo plus variant that would take MTOW out to 110T with a fuselage stretch, a seriously improved wing and a step change in the engine.

    Then there is the “Super Sixty” and the “Super Duper Sixty” angle to launch an A360 platform to fully close out the MoM’ster product space with a SA architecture. This would use B797 style engines to deliver a 58.5 / 62.5M long fuselage with 130T or 150T MTOW numbers that would put any BA TA design under a lot of perssure to the point that the pips would squeak.

    BA on the other hand seems to be going down the completely new platform / architecture route which will involve a lot more risk, a lot more investment and brand new powerplants.

    AB = Extending a current product with an existing high volume order book and product space.

    BA = Delivering brand new that will only have a single, larger target market.

    Big question — What works best with a 150T MTOW — Growth SA design vs the world’s wimpiest TA?
    Smaller question — How much of the MoM’ster product space can be covered by existing products and a bit of design ingenuity?

    • FBOT: Well when you call the NMA the wimpiest TA, me thinks you pretty well put your analysis at risk as balanced (not that you have to of course).

      Me, I think the NMA really is more the long distance 757, shorter distance 767, DC-10, A300/310 replacement with emphasis on the shorter end of their range window.

      Contrast that with a Kludged A321 X Frankenplane from the spare parts bin trying to use the NMA engines.

      I would call it the difference between a modern day van that seats 15 nicely with AC comfort and a stretched Model T (grin) and both the same price.

      • Same price ?
        Development costs over $10 bill plus another $5 bill – at a guess , could be higher – for an all new plane compared to a few billion for a developed plane.
        Not going to be ‘the same price’. Even if they ‘Gillette’ the list price you will be paying extra every year. You know what, airlines have skilled people who can compare total outlays over 10 years and come up with a ‘real cost of ownership’, so that wont be fooled.
        If ‘frankenplanes’ dont work then the 777X wouldnt be about to come out of final assembly.
        After all Boeing cant afford to add another low monthly volume 777X to the the 747 and 767

        • Duke:

          Well lets put it this way. Despite a huge cost overrun on the 787, Boeing is pricing it under the A330-NEO with its so called paid for cost ala the A330)

          So Boeing will price the NMA at what they will get after X number of aircraft, not what it cost to build initially.

          The only way an A321X can carry the same number of passengers not packed in like Sardines is to make it longer.

          That has been done (757-300) and it was not a huge success (miner one) in fast turn around its blocked badly.

          Airbus needs to keep the cash flowing so they can only go so low (have you looked at the stock prices?) – they have the A400 debacle to pay for and their own white elephant in the A380 (did you see AF going to drop 5?)

          But I am merely pointing out that bias one way or the other can be done.

          As for me, I think the NMA is an interesting idea and I look forward to seeing it launched. Glad its not my money of course.

          Unlike Scott, I am skeptical that Airbus has a new wing for the A321, it needs to be composite (ala A220) to compete. They may have a good idea and preliminary design, they may have had a metal one.

          That does not detract from the A321, its clearly a good aircraft, it beats Boeing hollow in the space its in. But making it something it is not with a bunch of fiddly parts may put it in the same category the 777X is in.

          Simply wrong for the space, not non viable aircraft technically.

          The 787-9/10, the A350-900 look to be in the area of the right mix of details.

          The A321 would benefit from a modern wing in its space, not to be an NMA but to preclude Boeing in the 737RS space down the road.

          • I don’t believe Boeing is pricing the 787 under the A330neo. While the outstanding development costs are still on the books, it doesn’t make it go away. Yes the money on a cash basis has been spent, they paid the bills largely with borrowed money and has to be paid back. GE has got itself in a financial hole with too much borrowing and Boeing not making any money in immediate future on 747, KC46, TX and even 777X means that a 797 being underwater for decades doesn’t make much sense.
            Hubris will bring an others wise fine company down. Always does

          • I have doubts about an A321 stretch beyond 47m (+3m) which is equivalent to the 757-200. Times has changed and airport slots are getting tighter and economic’s also require faster turn around times.

            For me the niche of an A321XLR is not that it can fly 500Nm or so further than an A321LR but could fly 4000Nm with 20-30 pax more. The XLR will also give airlines decent range if required when operating from Hot and/or High airports. An example could be the ability for an airline such as Qatar to reach numerous smaller destinations from Doha with an XLR with 180-200 pax.

          • @Anton:
            “For me the niche of an A321XLR is not that it can fly 500Nm or so further than an A321LR but could fly 4000Nm with 20-30 pax more.”
            Because it’s almost certain 321XLR won’t be a stretch of the 321LR per latest Airbus comments re quick development time, “…fly 4,000NM with 20-30 pax more” would mean ULCC-style, sardine can config of the 321Neo/321LR @ 240seats 1-class with no more than 28~29″ seat pitch and only 3 lavs(i.e. 80pax per lav) for a 7~8hrs sector.

            And I thought U hate cabin config with tight seating for any route beyond shorthaul such as your consistent dislike of the 9abreast layout on 787….unless your priority for comfort suddenly changed when it’s an Airbus.

          • Duke: List price for a 787 is less than an A330

            Airbus was bitter about Boeing underbidding them when they claimed all those paid for costs on the A330NEO let them beat Boeing all hollow.

            So yes Boeing is selling 787s less than A330s, accepting less margin while still making some profit.

            Airbus stands there sputtering, but they can’t do that!

            In the meantime Delta is converting A350 into A330, nice for the A330 but a bit hard on the A350 program.

            Can that change? Yep, right now Boeing is winning more.

      • MoM = It is all about the range gap in the market.

        Want to fly 4000 NM — you can use a 50T OEW aircraft.
        Want to fly 4001 Nm — you have to use a 120T plus OEW aircraft.
        The XLR starts to close that gap but there is still a way to go.

        If the A320 platform goes out to 110T MTOW then it will be part of a much larger programme — second generation if you like of the original architecture dealing with a host of issues that have developed over the past 20 years.

        XLR = Parts bin special.
        A320 MK2 = Serious engineering required.

        Other things to deal with:

        A320+ stretch to match up with BA at the LCC 200 seat benchmark.

        The Max 8 seems to be the only competitive element of the range based on the fact that it is slightly longer than the A320.

        A321+ stretch using the A320+ changes
        New wing and wingbox with new materials.
        Planning for engines with bigger fans.
        A322 model to make the most of the MTOW increase — 4M stretch at least.

        Any thoughts regarding a “Super Sixty” would mean a new model — A360 sounds good.

        Plug numbers from a Big Auto guy with PD Finance experience …

        XLR = $1bill investment.
        A320 MK2 = $5bill investment.
        A360 = $10bill investment.

  17. “Market sources told LNC last summer that the engine for the NMA grew from around 45,000 lbs to 52,000 lbs of thrust.”

    Comparing to the A321neo at 33K with a 36m span, will the NMA wingspan be closer to 45m, or 50m? I think the NMA needs light wing and engines to be competitive at shorter range. The 797-7x should be replacement for the 757-300, not trading efficiency for too much more range.

  18. Pebble in the pond time — trying to align a whole constellation of moons in a positive manner.

    B787 — loads of expensive structural tech.

    However it’s published weight numbers would suggest that it is not that far ahead of the pack when it comes to structural efficiency.

    Consequently where would that leave the B797 when it finally makes it into service?

    45K lbs thrust engine points to a MTOW at 135T.
    52K lbs thrust engine points to a MTOW at 155T approximately.

    We have an olde worlde data point of a 48.5M long B767 coming in at 142T MTOW claiming a US 2 class capacity of 214 — so 225 would be possible in a similar length fuselage but with modern arrangements.

    Another data point — 225 passengers = 25T human payload plus food / drink / consumables.

    B767 has an OEW of 80T which would appear to be very high for its published MTOW / payload numbers — so what would be a reasonable figure for a 135T or 155T B797 MoM’ster?

    MTOW @ 135T — then the OEW would have to be 70T or less.
    MTOW @ 155T — then the OEW would need to be 80T or less with a sweet spot at 75T.

    For me Scenario 1 is a dog and it don’t hunt.
    Scenario 2 has potential but it will be up against a 50T competitor with 90% of its range, 85% of its capacity and 65% of its running costs.

    Consequently game on if you are a $15bill gambler.

    Unknowns include the current BA Bait and switch game regarding seat widths — show it as 7 wide and build it at 8 wide to cram in another 25 plus plebs up the back.

    Not good.

    Or there is the big switcheroo — the B797 is really the first incarnation of a brand new BA XWB SA architecture.

    B797 = HD version for 2028.
    Ersatz B737 = LD / MD versions for 2033.

    To me that makes sense — however BA seems to be pushing the B797 as a wimpy TA with all its might.

    Ersatz 757 vs Ersatz 767 is one way of looking at it.

    • FBOT:

      We can agree that despite the tech, the weight savings on the 787 does not seem to be a huge leap, more incremental.

      Possibility that a lot of savings on the checks (stay tuned)

      I have no idea what the trade off is on the fuselage.

      The wing seems to be a lot more efficient due to the curves you can design into it with CFRP.

      Have to see which way the WTA goes.

  19. Not a lot of talk about EIS, realistically I can’t see any full scale production before 2017?

    Was also wondering if Boeing is considering a CFM engined aircraft with somewhere between 45-50Klb thrust for the smaller of the NMA’s followed later by 50+Klb engines from any of the other manufacturers for stretch versions.

  20. Won’t rule out a PW-RR alliance in the 40-60KLb engine thrust range, collaboration seems to have worked OK with the V2500. At the moment only the NMA a potential platform but this could grow with time. Such an engine might be 2-3 years behind an CFM product but could be a step change and reduce risk.

  21. @Anton:
    “Won’t rule out a PW-RR alliance in the 40-60KLb engine thrust range…”
    I would. Simply because both are still in(and will continue to be for the nex 12~18mths) deep trouble/customer confidence crisis mode re tech reliability+production delivery speed thx to PW1100G and T1000/7000. Realistically, both are currently too distracted to fully commit/embark on new engine development programs alone or as a team.

    “Such an engine might be 2-3 years behind an CFM product”
    Hv U noticed that over the past 15yrs, engine manufacturers hv been on board/hitched to any new aircraft program fm day1, cleansheet or re-engine, or they won’t be in that program thereafter?

    • Sorry for the late rebuttal:
      On the rates for building CFRP wings – 787 is currently building at 12/month soon to go up to 14/mo. The 777x wings are built in a different facility. So if we combine all the A & B CFRP wing production worldwide currently planned we end up with a total somewhat below the production rate of the A320 or 737. The three pacing items for build rates are material laydown, autoclave, then inspection – all time consuming serial processes. One can in theory have many machines/autoclaves of each but this is expensive and requires much larger facilities. The new 777x Wing Building size gives one an idea how big a factory this requires for even a relatively low rate production (relative to SA), admittedly for a very large wing.

      Building CFRP wings for SA rates is not an impossibility, but do you really want to jeopardize your best running programs with a 4x rate increase with relatively new technology vs. previous programs? This would have to be done on separate lines to avoid major disruptions. We only have to look at the issues the engine makers are having with the A320 and 737 rate increases to note that this is not a slam dunk.

      Running dissimilar airplane models can be highly disruptive to fast production; The P-8 is built on a separate line from the regular 737 for this reason.

      As far as the previous 4 wheel A320 truck, this was for the same MTOW. Increasing MTOW requires exponentially more braking area and heat dissipation volume which in turn drives larger wheels and wider spacing. Even increasing the gross weight within a four wheel bogie requires increasing wheel sizes and spacing which is typically designed in the baseline configuration.

  22. @FLX re: XLR seat capacity. I don’t think of the XLR as 240 seater, the point wanted to make is that an A321XLR will 180-190 seats will have the same range as an A321LR with 160 seats.

    JetBlues 4 class Mint/Intra-continental layout on their A321’s seats ~160 pax. With an XLR destinations such as Rio or Athens (4100Nm) on paper could be in reach from Boston with an XLR.

    More from my part of the world, you could potentially reach Mumbai from JHB (3700Nm) which is an H&H airport (15% loss in range) with an XLR with ~180 pax, time of day take-off schedules could come into play.

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