Key customers shrug off Boeing’s 2020 NMA launch date

Jan. 30, 2019, © Leeham News: Key customers and suppliers shrugged off Boeing’s announcement today that a program launch for the prospective New Midmarket Aircraft won’t come until 2020.

If Boeing goes ahead with the NMA, a decision yet to be made, an announcement was widely expected at the Paris Air Show in June.

Authority to Offer (ATO) the airplane for sale may still come as early as March or April.


American, Delta and United airlines told LNA the slip of launch from this year to next isn’t a concern—provided the 2025 entry-into-service remains the target.

Boeing reiterated this date on the 2018 year-end earnings call today, which included the change in program launch date.

The three engine makers, CFM, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, also took the news in stride.

71 Comments on “Key customers shrug off Boeing’s 2020 NMA launch date

  1. Third year in a row they delay until next year?
    But has there ever been a ATO with out launch???


    • This is exactly what it is and has always been.

      This is quite funny as I have explained several times already why this is so and nobody offered a better answer, but still you are surprised?

      1) Engine: The Leap is not good enough, the 797 needs a geared fan. The Ultrafan is not ready. Pratt is plenty busy with straightening out production, but maybe the 1000G can not be scaled up so easy anyway. On problem could be the aluminum fan which they might need to replace with CFRP because of its larger size required. The core might also be over-stretched. Summary: No engine available over the next years. No engine, no plane.

      2) To make the 2-3-2 fuselage competitive with 3-3 and 2-4-2 it has to be ovoid. An ovoid fuselage in aluminum would be way too heavy. The same fuselage in CFRP would be way to expensive when make like the 797 or A350. So we need a new technology which reduces the number of parts significantly and increases automation. This technology is not available now and no production system has been developed. No fuselage, no plane.

      But there are other problems too:

      A) Alternative propulsion: In the not so far away future we are facing a dramatic shift in the political landscape as it will not longer be ok to rely on (dirty) fossil fuels. So a propulsion based on Methane or Hydrogen, supported with battery/hybrid systems is on the horizon. This would dramatically change the layout of any plane. I believe this is a difficult decision for every engine and plane maker from now on, as huge investments in current technology (kerosene) may not pay off.

      B) Boeings need for a new single-aisles plane might in the end have priority over the NMA. It would also be a more straightforward design based on proven technology and engines. It will be very much like a A220, only 3-3. The stability problem (Lion Air) might give this a big push, huge backlog or not.

      My conclusion is that the NMA will not be launched in 2020 either, but Boeing will present a big surprise in form of a new SA sooner than most people think. Maybe 2020.

      • The same process that ended with pimping the 737 to the MAX 🙂
        And the same MoO on the Boeing side. Endless stream of promoises, announcements and coy show of hedging to let the years pass by while trying to have the potential customers trail in the turbulences. Again super duper technnical advances are dangled carrot like to the audience.

        Interesting tidbit: apparently Mr Neeleman has been given some cool aid: The oval fuselage will be much lighter as it does not need the structure for belly cargo.

        IMU there is not much structure needed for the hold.
        structure is needed for the pax floor. And that does not change at all. ( Actually more will be needed due to the flat oval forcing compression in the floorbeams.

        • Does the floor act as a beam and have those two struts that would be loaded in tension to keep the cabin pressure from expanding the oval to a circle, or does the floor load in an aircraft always get transferred to the fuselage through the struts in compression, where the floor beam would not be strong enough to span the entire cabin width?
          I say go with the time honored KISS principle, keep it sircular stupid.

          • (All?) historic fuselages are round ( A300, floor stressless) or upright oval ( actually 2 circles intersecting at floor level 707, 737, 757 , floor stressed).
            A flat oval would introduce compression forces into the floors to keep the form.
            Mr Neeleman carrying baggage or not is irrelevant.
            The claim that significant amounts of extra structure are needed for carrying belly cargo is IMU wrong.

          • @Uwe: That’s right, the floor will have to cope with the pressure, but that would be fine as long as it is located in the center – which it won’t be. It will be quite a bit below the centerline, which will result in significant bending forces in the fuselage walls above it.

            This creates a lot of problems with reinforcements and possibly a rippling surface along the full length of the fuselage, which will not only be ugly but also spoil the airflow. Last not least there will be plenty of fatigue through changes of the shape due to changes in air pressure.

            To cope with all this you have to go CFRP and stiffen this section of the fuselage a lot.

            In this I see a design problem that’s so serious that it is possibly the killer of the whole ovoid NMA idea.

        • A passenger fuselage is a pressurized tank. Any deviation from a circular needs a additional structure to force the surface inside.

          Try to force a Coke can in an oval shape.

          Where does Mr. Neeleman wants to store luggage?

      • C) additional problem: you have to make the NMA so good and cheap that it is superior to a cheap 322 version of the 320 with new and larger wings.

        A) i can t see the end of kerosene coming so soon. After all, air planes is probably one of the most efficient applications of burning fossil fuels, at least much more than road traffic, railways, heating and much of the packaging. So the other 90% of the demand should get killed sooner than aviation.

        • Chris: regarding A) the most efficient transportation is still a steel wheel on a steel track diven by electric energy supplied by a direct line. You just can’t beat that, and a plane is much less efficient. Still, trains don’t cross oceans and have issues with mountains (tunnels and bridges are really expensive), and of course really large distances, so we’ll need planes in the future. But kerosene exhaust fumes up high are a serious environmental problem, which is where methane and hydrogen are comming into play.

          • only assuming the infrastructure is built, and even then a modern container ship or supertanker likely is better on any measure per ton/mile, and diesel-electric freight trains are also probably more efficient.

            the impact of rail systems is enormous when you take into account the energy expended on infrastructure, cost of land acquisition, track maintenance and general ecosystem impacts of running a rail line across hundreds or thousands of miles.

          • Gundulf:

            All solid, but the fumes asre not the issue. Its the massive amount of ozone killers ala

            “Airplanes emit particles and gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, lead, and black carbon ”

            And its direct injection where you want it lest (sand into your lungs)

          • It depends, if you can cope with 5 knots a huge sailboat wins, if 18knots is okay a huge supertanker wins, if 100mph is your requirements huge trains on steel tracks wins ( if the track foundation, bridges, steel, wires etc are made with with electricity from wind or water Power) and tracks can be installed, over 200mph huge prop driven planes seems the best maybe with ground effect flying and over M0.6 turbofan jets wins.
            Just lok at the cost of the California High Speed Rail system being built by the state of California.

      • Is is not easy to design an Aircraft in CFRP that robots will build quickly and cheap.
        1) All 3 big Engine manufacturers will soon give final and best offers that on paper will meet Boeing requirements.
        2) The section 41 of the 747-400 is a standing ovoid made of alumium. Today a horizontal ovoid can be done better in CFRP. The question is can robots build it fast, cheap and with good enough quality. I think the Boeing board of directors want firm numbers first, they know it will be a huge blue collar shortage after retirements in Renton so robots must come.
        A) Alternative powerplants will first appear on 18 seaters flying a few hundred miles. The difference between oil from ground and making oil from biomass is mainly like Whiskey aging. As JET-A prices increase more efforts will be made coverting waste and sea algea into synthetic JET-A.
        B) The 797 might be the forerunner of a 7-007 narrowbody with next generation Engines, no Point of making a new aircraft for $15-20 bn with Engines 1-2% better than available today.

  2. If it was a strong business case, NMA launch would have been in 2016, after 3 years of research & lobbying.

  3. I thought it would be another delay, as Boeing really really wants to have its announcement which goes to the wider public with deals in place. We saw that with the 737-10, instead of only deciding the undercarriage it was really meant to give time for the sales people to wrap up deals. Maybe they want 400-500 sales when the program has its full public launch

  4. Well, Airbus has said, as recently as last week, that they are going to wait and see what Boeing does. Someone will just have to bear down and make a first public move/announcement, some day.

    I guess Neeleman was, as usual, maybe most right/least wrong among the opinion giving class.

  5. 787, launch it and figure out the details later
    797, figure out all the details then launch it

    • Sounds like the case is not working out well.

      The built it if they can get enough committments to buy.

      Rest looks quite difficult.

    • 787 they misfired the mfg process. They did have R&D done.

      797 endless R&D.

      • Not sure the B787 programme development process was as clean as you suggest.

        Mark 1 — “800’s” would appear to be a QBI+S mongrel to get something into the air ASAP.

        Mark 2 — “900’s” seem to be the real deal with all the correct engineering DNA in the one aircraft.

        However hats of to BA that they can get the market to spend good money on second rate aircraft so readily.

        I think the economics and transparency of the price of an egg in Catch 22 is a paragon of clarity and rationality compared to the build economics of the B787.

        BA seem to be over the hump and all the tech and build investment is now paying off but they still have a huge charge on their books to work into their P+L.

        Sales = Vanity
        P+L = Sanity
        Cashflow = Reality.

        BA’s latest accounts would suggest that the company is gushing cash as they finally get the B787 build where they want it.

        $64K / mill / bill question — can they work the same trick with the MoM’ster?

  6. Ah, the mythical snake-oil plane drags on for another year.

    Also, launch in 2020 and EIS in 2025(the year airlines apparently want) would mean a 5-year development cycle for a new plane. I’ll believe it when I see it (for either OEM)

  7. I can see that a launching date/time (or not) could be heavily influenced by analysts and investors. There’s more money to be made on the stock exchange than building the NMA?

  8. Very confusing.

    Unofficial feedback on sales will have been given by customers already. I think at some point we were told Boeing was speaking to ~50 customers.

    If ATO comes in march, then overall design must be frozen, or at least you would think it to be the case. Perhaps it won’t be the case.

    Perhaps key customer’s may have told Boeing that the airplane isn’t right and the design needs changing.

    OEMs are getting more coy. Perhaps Boeing are leaving the ‘official’ launch date late to outwit Airbus.

    Let’s hope Boeing are giving clear direction to their engineers. Time is running out for a 2025 entry into service.

    Mind boggles.

  9. EIS of 2025 is one thing, but who going to be in front of the que of the American Big-3?

  10. I cannot see how BA can deliver an NMA (allllll new/eeeeeverything new) in 2025 based on the seemingly endless delays/missteps in so many aspects of production (engines/seats/cabin-fixtures/software) in recent ‘updates’ to aircraft.

    Didn’t the a330 ‘neo’ update take 3/4 yes.. with production still quite slow? The 777X – 5yrs?

    I truly believe that by the time the 797 is delivered, it’s target market may have been at least part-filled by Airbus, who can more easily derivitize their existing frames to take more of that market.

    Stranger and stranger at BA. Get on with, or you’ll deliver more customers to AB.

    • The A330neo and 777X program schedules were largely driven by engine availability though (not that that won’t an issue for the 797). The Neo wasn’t 3-4 years because it takes that long for Airbus to design a new pylon and winglets.

  11. The problem with launching the NMA is that it would probably take sales away from the 787. For Boeing, it could be advantages in delaying a commitment to the NMA program.

    • See Qatar converted 10 A321NEO orders to 321LR’s. Both AA and Delta have large A321NEO orders, won’t be surprized to see conversions to the LR and XLR. No real short term gain for AB, long term possible loss of NMA orders for BA and such airlines could convert A321 options to 322’s for example?

      UAL has a large MAX order but no real 757 replacement. Can see them going for 321XLR’s and/or more 788’s if push comes to shove.

      Also, the A330-200 lease market could get a push if pushing out of the NMA continues.

  12. Why all the big focus on an “ovoid” fuselage?
    Why not a double bubble arrangement or a thrifted B767 circle?

    Really think BA is being hobbled by its desire to be great rather than just good. Or does it have to be great because the A32X platform challenge is so strong?

    They should give up and get in touch with the MC-21 crew.
    Big SA for big SA ranges.

    Start at the bottom and work up as the engines become available.

    Current engines or PIP x 2 versions scheduled for 2025 should be able to cope with 110T MTOW and even more if they go big with the wing.

    Initial offering:

    45M and a 50M long SA family with a 3.9M / 153″ wide cabin.
    Enough real estate for 210 / 240+ standard seats — 18″ @ 32″ pitch — which will be pretty close to the projected shorter version of the B797 MoM’ster which should come in at around 250 using the same seats.

    US Big 3 / 2 class national layout:

    45M = 180 plus depending on the required hotel fit out.
    50M = 210 plus

    The width means that you have the space to do a twin aisle in Business and PE and keep things moving up the back.

    That then offers BA real grunt in the A321 / “A323” product space with the potential to go large as the new engines come on stream. Plus it offers SA economics from the off.

    The current never-ending design process makes Brexit look like a paragon of good planning and measured debate.

    • Yes, why not an Al-Li “thrifted 767 circle”?
      And by simply dropping the floor placement in the circle, the cabin section increases and cargo section decreases. The sidewall is at a better angle than on the A330 where the floor is proportionally high on the circle.
      The 767 is 16-6 x 17-9, an average of 17′-1.5″ outside dimension.
      A 7K7 with a circular fuselage of 15′-8″ would save 9% in skin drag and structure over the 767, and 19% in frontal area drag. That is a lot of thrift!
      At 15′-8″, the 7K7 can be configured with 17.5″ seats and aisles with 2″ armrests, so plenty roomy.
      Then this fuselage can be used to build a 3,000nm 7L7 with a 42m wing that folds into 36m gates, lighter gear, and smaller engines.

      • B767 fuselage — what is driving the eccentricity?

        Is the extra height down to the wingbox / saddle?
        Is the fuselage height the same across all the versions?
        Heavier MTOW — bigger wingbox?

        Bigger wingbox — more fuselage eccentricity?
        Or did the B767 design team keep the original dimensions and just add weight to gain the additional capability?

        Fuselage ruminations — very optimistic.

        B767: 186″ wide cabin for 18″ seats — possibly 2 / 4″ up for grabs with a bit of design innovation and the application current cabin standards.

        Poss 7K7: 188″ outside equals at best 178″ more realistically 176″ inside and for what?

        My thoughts are that the ovoid fuselage angle is a combination of a crush-a-pleb layout up the back at 8 wide / 17″ seats if we are lucky and A320 type luggage containers down below.

        Strange looking beast.

        Slightly less strange if it is 7 wide up the back with 17″ seats and A320 containers.

        The shape / skin drag calculations will be be interesting when compared to a SA.

        Ovoid — What would be the numbers?

        195 wide vs 170 high / 156 high?
        The bigger the eccentricity the bigger the structural inefficiency vs the circular norm?

        The current B797 / MoM’ster oval design vibe has Sonic Cruiser written all over it.

        • I would imagine the vertical dimension of the 767 fuselage was from the lower lobe designed around the freight containers.
          The 797 has been described by reporters as a circular upper lobe and a flattened oval lower lobe. How much will they flatten it from an 8′ radius circle, maybe 1 or 2 feet. My estimate for the fuselage section is 14′ high by 15′-8″‘ wide.
          How much does going with an oval lower lobe gain, maybe 5% less skin surface. But since aircraft fly at a few degrees in cruise, is there any aero liftingbody benefit to this design?

          Has Boeing confirmed 2-3-2, CFRP fuse, oval lower lobe? The only thing I have read they have said is ‘twin aisle’, and ‘nontraditional fuselage section’ which is vague.

          • Hello Ted,

            Regarding: “Has Boeing confirmed 2-3-2, CFRP fuse, oval lower lobe?”

            CFRP Oval, 2-3-2 in economy, is what has been described by several airline executives commenting on Boeing’s presentations to them. I believe the fuselage shape of the 797, and a follow on 797 based 737 replacement, will be as described in the 2001 Boeing patent at the link below. Following is an excerpt from this patent.

            “In an alternate embodiment, as shown in FIG. 9, the present invention provides a section 150 of the fuselage with a substantially constant cross-section for a short distance forward of and immediately behind the wing. As a result, this airplane configuration can conveniently be “stretched” into longer body models by adding the constant cross-section sections 160 ahead of or behind the wing. Section 162 is a tail section that connects to the main section 150 or any numbered additional section 160. A single size wing platform can accommodate fuselages with up to a certain number and size of constant cross-section fuselage sections. For example, a first wing platform accommodates bodies corresponding to 90, 105, and 120 dual-class seats. A second wing platform accommodates bodies corresponding to 135, 160, and 185 seats, and a third wing platform accommodates bodies corresponding to 210, 250, and 290 seats. In the longer body versions, structure is strengthened, more doors are provided in the constant cross-section fuselage sections, and bigger engines are used as required to meet payload-range mission requirements. Thus, this new twin-aisle “small” airplane cross-section could apply to a very large family of airplanes from around the 90 seat regional jet class all the way through the 757 and 767 “middle of the market” class.”


          • Where was Seattle getting its water in the early 2000’s?

            Were they trucking it in from Flint?

            At least they were looking at the big picture regarding the next steps in the SA B737 replacement marketplace.

            However at 7 wide — struggling to see the advantages of trendy oval vs Trad circular. Unless the eccentricity is substantial the advantages are pretty small and numbers of a similar magnitude are pretty much part and parcel of the SA marketplace — they do not seem to be knockout.

            All very Sonic Cruiser.
            Some great ideas though but where are they now?

    • I have to put a value on fear and loathing of the middle seat. The more successful the A220 the better, and the option to fly in 2-3-2.

  13. 1) if the case would be strong, NMA would be launched already.
    There are several issues, Boeing is marketing a plane without having an engine, a fuselage for the price of an A321 (75 mio. $) with the same efficeny and CASM.
    Of course this gains interest, still this becomes not possible without some technology breakthroughs

    2. oval fuselage isn’t used, it creats load peaks and needs extra structural support to not break.
    Composite seems to be to expensive and not needed, AL isn’t optimal either.
    Also the question is about freight. Where should that go, how to transport passangers luggage, etc.
    And this new thing should come around for a cheap price? To develop, test, certify? To match SAs cost?
    Still, 2-3-2 means you have a 2nd aisle for just +1 seat compared to 3-3. A 2-4-2 or 3-3-3 config will always be superior in terms of efficency.

    3. Engine
    There’s no engine avalaible.
    There is B787/ A330 neo engine (same tech) and A321neo/B737max engine.
    150kn vs. 300kn thurst.
    So far NMA would need right about the middle, 220-250 kn.

    4. development
    Boeing already tried to develop in less then 7 years, just remember the B787 desaster almost killed the company. Now the want to do a new thing in 5 years.

    It’s not that it’s impossible, but it’s the combination of time, money, economics and technical development that Boeing want’s to do there which makes it highly unlikley.
    Also postponing the launch from year to year sounds like a method to just hold back A321lr buyers till Boeing has time to bring a new SAs.

  14. To me, EIS in 2025(even just achieving cert by late 2025 in reality) is simply unrealistic if Boeing is planning program launch no earlier than 2020(even if it’ll happen Jan 2020). This is for any clean-sheet design regardless of whether it is a NMA/797 or whatever else.

    Historical fact:
    Neither Boeing, Airbus, BBD nor any manufacturer has ever achieved a program development duration for a clean-sheet design in less than 7yrs since 2000(i.e. 380 program launch).

    • I think the aircraft is in design and could EIS 2025. The engine is another matter. As Gundolf succinctly stated above, “No engine, no plane.” 45K LEAP in 2025, I could see. GTF or Ultrafan in that timeframe is a tougher sell.

      • @Ted:
        “I think the aircraft is in design”
        So were the 380, 787 and 350 before their official program launch dates respectively. It still took over 7yrs to go fm launch to cert in every case.

        There’s a big diff in effort/time required between playing around with prelim designs on CAD/CAE within Boeing R&D offices b4 launch vs actually working with the detailed design definitions, blueprints and stuff jointly with hundreds of program suppliers+FAA/EASA authorities…..

  15. After chewing on this a couple of days, I think my sense is that its an iffy enough program that Boeing wants more (0r even) solid buy in from the bigger carriers.

    The comments were 757/767 replacement and we have seen operators use the 787 as a 767 (when in fact its not really suited to that mission due to the long range weight penalty even if you load it lighter on fuel)

    The engines continue to be an interesting issue.

    Who is ready to come out with the needed one?

    P&W is the only one I know of that had done proposals for a larger class engine off the GTF. No hardware built that is known, but someone did ask them for a proposal for a
    767/A330 class engine off the GTF.

    GE and RR could come up with a variant off existing, but all studies by NASA showed it was the GTF that was the true leap (pun intended) and the 797 needs all the upside it can get efficiency wise.

    Also in consideration though not a given, Boeing has done itnense work on the 797, that may cut off time.

    It also has the TFX and the unmanned fueler that will use the same new production process going that would give them a foot up (if it works)

    I continue to hope as I think advances are far too few as proven by 737/A320 old airframes still being viable.

    • TransWorld, why don’t we take a closer look then at the P&W geared engine. Starting at the front we have an aluminum fan. This beauty is rather cheap to manufacture and also quite light, compared with CFRP and titanium. Aluminum has a much lower tensile strength than both competing materials. The forces at the root of the blade increase with the weight and the revs, so the question is whether it will be good enough for a larger engine. I believe that going from 35 to 50/55,000 lbf will require a CFRP fan. P&W have not made such a fan yet, so they would need the co-operation of GE or develop their own. It’s everyones guess how long that will take.

      But that’s not all. The gear will also need to be beefed up significantly, plus we need a new, larger core. Just adding a stage here or there won’t cut it.

      5 years from the start of the program to service? Seriously? I would think more like 8 years.

  16. Folks are convincibg themselves 2025 EIS is possible with a 2020 launch. Hope is beating ratio again 😀

    • True. Not so much for Boeing sake as industry sake to get things off the dime and innovation going again.

      Granted its not a huge move, but the following 737RS should be.

      If hope did not spring eternal I would guess none of us would be aircraft enthusiasts!

      Kind of like being a US Browns Football fan, you keep hoping just to be dashed over and over again.

  17. Is it time for a new 44m wing category for airport and aircraft design? With ORD about to start a large expansion, and the 7K7, is it time for a new size of gate, 44m, halfway between the current 36m and 52m?

    A potential A220-500 could put 160 passengers into a 36m gate, similar to the 738 and A320. But as aircraft size on these routes increases (200 to 225 seats), coupled with the gains in efficiency of longer span wings, more aircraft with 40m-44m wingspans will be in the mix. So the choice of larger gates for larger wingspans and larger crowds, or folding wingtips and shoehorn more people in the current 36m gate waiting areas?

  18. According to the excerpt below from the 1-29-19 Wichita Business Journal article at the link after the excerpt, Jon Ostrower’s “The Air Current” is reporting that Boeing has more than 1,000 people working on the NMA, and that the it will be given an internal green light near the end of the present quarter. Is it normal for a manufacturer to have more than 1,000 people working on an aircraft that has not been officially launched yet? I actually don’t know whether 1,000 people working on an allegedly non-launched design would be normal, and I am curious what opinions the arm chair or actual experts of the Leeham comments section have about this.

    “According to a report from The Air Current, Boeing (NYSE: BA) now has more than 1,000 people working on plans that people familiar with the company’s timeline tell the aerospace publication will be given the internal green light near the end of the first quarter.”

    • @AP: The number of people working on the 797 program is indicative of the probability that this program will proceed, among lots of other factors.

      • Hello Scott,

        Thank you for your answer. What are some of the “other factors”?

        • @AP: Cost v price, transformative production, market size, etc. All the stuff we’ve been writing about for more than a year.

          If the business case were a “lock,” Boeing would have launched this long ago.

          • Given the new reporting rules B cannot go ahead a la 787 as gone option of hanging deferred costs on the balance sheet is no longer on the table. This means reporting BILLIONS of dollars ( they had 30 + $ Billins go the 787 ) as lost as you go.
            Absent a cast iron business case this simply inacceptable to the Street, and the Board

          • Hello Doubting Thomas,

            Regarding: “this simply inacceptable to the Street, and the Board”

            To show Boeing how unacceptable its accounting practices are, “The Street” bid Boeing stock up to a new record high price today (2-4-19). That will show them! Stop this nonsense or we will keep bidding your stock up to record highs! The excerpts below are from the CNBC article at the link after the excerpts.

            “Boeing shares are soaring to begin 2019, rising to an all-time high a few days after the company reported booming fourth-quarter results …”

            “Boeing’s stock hit $394.90 a share on Monday, breaking above the previous high of $394.28 a share hit on Oct. 3. Shares are off to a red-hot start this year, up over 21 percent.”


            Oh, by the way, in the real world, there are no “new reporting rules” that would force Boeing to do what you claim they would. You don’t think that the investment community would know about such rules if they existed?

        • Back then the Sonic Cruiser was ‘delayed not cancelled’

          ‘Sonic Cruiser was the answer to plans by Boeing’s European rival, Airbus, to build the biggest plane in the sky, the A380 “superjumbo” which will carry 555 people…

          Boeing insisted the Sonic Cruiser would fly one day: “Work will continue on the Sonic Cruiser, for whenever the market’s ready for it, although it will obviously be on a lower key basis than before.”
          ‘insisted’ would fly one day!

          Seattles Post -Intelligencer even went to the top secret building where it was being ‘developed’

          It seems certain now it was a giant marketing scam as more information was made available then about a ghost plane than is now being made about a real one, the MoM

          • Why don’t we look at the NMA (797) like at the SonicCruiser as a “Study” or “Research & Marketing Experiment”?

            There are many open questions about future technologies and customer demands currently and there is a competitior who’s strategie you’d like to understand. So what do you do? You start a project to probe all that – what can we expect from our key suppliers (engine makers), how far can we go in performance, cost and production with the idea of a smaller CFRP fuselage. Can we offer a replacement for 757s and 767s that’s not made by the competitor (A321), and so forth.

            Does that mean that this is a serious project? Yes and no. Yes, as I believe it is an important piece of work for Boeing to reserach all the mentioned fields. No, because I don’t think it’s the right product idea and the right product.

            And I believe that Boeing has made a bit of a strategic mistake here as they exhaust the patience of their suppliers and customers. That might fire back at a later date. I do think they are using the NMA as a smokescreen for a new SA development, but that is probably quite obvious already. Especially for those who are the key targets of this divisionary manouvre.

            And because the Airbus folks are not impressed they just keep the ball low and take their time regarding further A321 variants.

    • Big Auto perspective trying to understand Big Aero ….

      1000 person programme team working on a pre PA programme is currently a $300mill pa spend — all research and design but no investment spend on tooling or production facilities.

      Not sure what the going rate is regarding Big Aero white collar staff — plug number would be $75 per hour as a contractor?

      Given BA’s current financials and lack of a long term product pipeline this would be pretty small change regarding planning for the future.

      The B737 is currently hanging on in their on the back of a Tier 1 spend and AB laziness. If AB gets real with the A320 then with current tech all BA can hope for is AB cast offs, short notice desperados and a few BA only shops in the future.

      All will involve money in the boot — all of this reinforces the need to get a credible SA strategy up and running ASAP.

      The NMA / B797 MoM’ster will / should be part of this bigger enterprise so $300mill pa is probably a bit low rent.

  19. What will it cost and what time will it take for an 787-8 with new centre section, wing, wing box. (Not the787-3).

    OEM around 100T, MTOW good for 5000Nm range, engines ~55Klb GEnxXX, EIS of 2015 could be achieved. AB has no answer.

    …or do an 77X on the 757 with Al-Li fuselage, CFRP wing and 40Klb LEAPs. Both could likely be done for (much) less than USD15 Billion.

  20. From Flightglobal article:

    “George Dimitroff, head of valuations at FlightGlobal’s Flight Ascend Consultancy, stops short of calling Boeing’s newly-disclosed timeline a delay. The move gives Boeing time to find customers and further define the aircraft, he says.

    “The decision to offer means they can effectively start selling it, but they are giving themselves another year before they actually commit to building it,’ Dimitroff says. “They clearly want to be sure they can kick it off with some large order commitments (even if letters of intent) before they start investing serious money in design and testing.”

    George doesn’t want a phone call from Chicago. NOT a delay. Cheesy. Worrying..

  21. Delaying is ok, with the assumption your customers and specially Airbus will wait. Let’s for a moment assume they don’t; they discuss with key customers and suppliers and move ahead. Similar to 2010-11.

    Airbus has been working on various high MTOW A321 variants. They could launch two at the 2019 Paris Airshow. Announce new customers (United, JAL, AF, AC) while a string of A321 airlines convert part of the A321NEO backlog.

    At that point Boeing’s 797 business case would need to be re-written for sure..

    • I don’t think so.

      You forget the alure of all new and a better approach in all ways anyway.

      Yes various A321 options can pick off the bottom of the market, but it does not hit the heart.

      Much like the 737-900, not a huge seller and certainly not a dog as it was a low cost upgrade. But the key was an adjunct and not the main show that challenged the A321.

      The A321 in turn would not challenge a 797. It would work as an adjunct and maybe avoid having to move to 797 for many, but not a 797 by any stretch (pun intended)

      It may be that Boeing is telling people, yes we will meet this price, but we will not cut rate it to jump start, you have to pay 90 million out of the box, not a 40 million to start with.

      We are putting our necks out, we need your commitment.

      Stay tuned.

      • “It may be that Boeing is telling people, yes we will meet this price, but we will not cut rate it to jump start, you have to pay 90 million out of the box, not a 40 million to start with.

        We are putting our necks out, we need your commitment.”

        I’m afraid the airlines proved a little less romantic. If there’s a good alternative they’ll order it, again. They are in the business of selling tickets at a good average margin, not of taking industrial risks with Boeing.

        A321XLR and A322NEO would share same fuel system. An A322 would still have more range than e.g. 737-8..

        • If Boeing can launch the MAX 10, Airbus can launch the A322 on short notice. Two or three row stretch, a few more tons, split wingtips, higher thrust engines, it’s go time.

    • Simpler explanations are more likely.
      AB has a short term plan and a longer term plan.
      They look to be two separate workstrams.

      The A321 XLR as hinted at has all the hallmarks of a parts bin special — getting the most out of the component set for the least amount of investment.

      MTOW — why 101T and not 102T?

      Because the bigger number would have required bigger changes and a much bigger spend. All the pointers suggest that the name gives the game away it is all about range.

      Big Auto terminology — A321 XLR is an in cycle action.

      The A32X Plus?

      Seemingly now on hold and this would appear to be — in Big Auto terminology — a much larger mid cycle refresh programme to significantly improve the capabilities of the platform. Which means real spend and a lot more work. The bigger the spend on this the longer it will be to AB delivers a brand new SA architecture so it could get messy.

      The Plus is all about MTOW — what will the market buy and what can the engine makers deliver.

      Not sure if the MTOW will stretch to 110T or even 120T.

      It is this MTOW increase that would allow a credible fuselage stretch to sell in good numbers and not a “single” market / customer special like the B757 300.

      It had the real estate but not the legs to be a success.

  22. Even based on Boeing best estimates the market is not that huge, and it is already partially served by A321LR. The equation is difficult, and the ingredients are probably not yet available to make a compelling offering. Not only that, Airbus could respond much faster with a revamped A321 with a new wing and pipped powerplants.

  23. Clarifications to earlier comment:
    1) new reporting requirements means B can no longer use program accounting to defer recognition of start up costs. The 787 is the last program for which this was used.
    2) the Street knows that and would punish the stock if the NMA decision were taken but the expected initial P or L impact were be expected to be materially negative.
    3) Therefore B management must demonstrate up front and openly a cast iron business case.

  24. I guess Airbus will launch 101 t A321 variant(s) at the Paris Airshow this summer, regardless of what Boeing plans for the NMA. They always do so with launching customers. Then there is a new situation.

  25. Below is an excerpt from a 2-8-19 Reuters article whose author is of the opinion that with operating cash flow expected to surge to 17 billion USD this year, Boeing can easily fund development of the NMA while maintaining its current yearly spending of 12 billion USD on stock dividends and buybacks. See the link after the excerpt for the full article.

    “Muilenburg plans to ratchet up output of the 787 as well as the single-aisle 737 this year. That should juice operating margins, which Boeing raised by nearly 4 points last year to 13 percent, almost twice the level of European rival Airbus. The company raised its upper earnings forecast for this year by one-third at the end of January.

    That ought to simplify Muilenburg’s deliberation over whether to build a new mid-market airplane to fill the gap between the short-haul 737 and the 787. Boeing now has hard-won experience with composites, and Airbus is making inroads with a long-range version of its A321. With operating cash flow expected to rise nearly 13 percent to over $17 billion this year, according to I/B/E/S estimates from Refinitiv, Boeing could invest $15 billion on a new project over six-plus years without diminishing the nearly $12 billion in dividends and buybacks it showered on shareholders last year. Conditions look fit for takeoff.”

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