Pontifications: Doubts continue over Boeing NMA launch

March 4, 2019, © Leeham News: Another week, another NMA story.

For an airplane that doesn’t exist, the prospective Boeing NMA continues to dominate much of the aerospace news.

By Scott Hamilton

Last week’s announcement by Rolls-Royce that it withdrew—in December, as it turns out—from the competition to power the NMA prompted a flurry of stories in aerospace media, including LNA.

Some stories suggested RR’s withdrawal meant Boeing was getting closer to launching the airplane.

Boeing, in January, said Authority to Offer might come this year and program launch had moved from 2019 to 2020.

Two prominent consultants predicted at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference last month the odds were 60-40 or 65-35 Boeing would proceed.

Maybe, but I have to tell you that conversations I had last week in the wake of the Rolls announcement are not encouraging.

Doubts still exist

We and many others have written many times about the doubts about the market demand for the NMA.

We’ve talked about the doubts expressed by the CEO of GE Aviation and United Technologies, parent of Pratt & Whitney. We’ve reported for years the Airbus view that there is no market for a new, Middle of the Market airplane. Though Airbus’ view is anything but unbiased or without motives, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t believe what it says in this case.

But here’s what’s new.

One of the UK-based aerospace analysts I talked with last week has, in the last month, met with Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, Greg Hayes, CEO of United Technologies and officials at Safran, a 50% partner (with GE) in CFM International. With the Rolls withdrawal, CFM and PW are the remaining bidders for the NMA contract.

CFM and PW want sole-source awards. Neither sees a business case for a dual-sourced engine selection. CFM is viewed as the front runner, given its long commercial history with Boeing.

This analyst, who remains unidentified so he can speak freely, says he came away from his meeting with Hayes with the latter’s usual expressed skepticism. Nothing new about this.

But he said he came away from his meeting with Muilenburg with the feeling of doubts and uncertainty the program will proceed.

Always cagey

Muilenburg, in his public role as CEO on earnings calls, investor conferences and interviews, always is cagey about the NMA program. He says the business case has yet to be closed, there is still customer input being received, etc.

Privately, I’ve heard for months that Muilenburg wants to do the program and it is Greg Smith, CFO of The Boeing Co. and EVP of Enterprise Performance & Strategy, who remains skeptical of the business case.

Last December, Muilenburg and Smith told Seth Seifman of JP Morgan the NMA must stand on its own business case and not be dependent upon aftermarket contracts with Boeing Global Services.

If the aerospace analyst read Muilenburg correctly, and if the previous reports were correct, this represents a shift in his thinking.

Pricing still an issue

Pricing, driven by costs, remains an issue.

Market intelligence says Boeing can’t get the price down to the $65m-$75m customers say they want (figures I always considered to be ridiculously low, by the way). Boeing, according to my information, sees the value-price proposition at around $100m. This doesn’t mean Boeing is hard-and-fast at this level, but going lower makes the business case tougher.

Good luck with that. The 787-8 sells for $115m. While the range is far greater, at 7,250nm, that the 4,500nm-5,000nm of the NMA, for $15m the airlines get a far more flexible aircraft.

With the margin Boeing wants to get (25%), $100m means the cost is $75m. This remains way too much, obviously, to sell a plane for $65m-$75m.

One industry observer thinks the NMA may be priced between the Airbus A321LR and 787-8 at around $81m. A 25% margin means the cost would be just under $61m. This is an aggressive target.

Within Boeing

Boeing has been talking about the 757 replacement, which evolved into the NMA, since 2012. If there was a good business case, many believe the airplane would have been launched long ago.

Even within Boeing, I hear doubts about the market demand and whether the program will be launched. One pessimist who recently left Boeing calls the launch a 50-50 proposition.

The investment community emphatically doesn’t want Boeing to do the program. Concerned only with stock price, shareholder buybacks and dividends, the community sees money being spent that otherwise goes into their pockets.

I’m told this is simplistic on my part, but I stand by it.

LNA understands the strategic reasons for launching the program. But for a company obsessed with shareholder value, the longer the business case isn’t closed, the less likely the program will be launched.

 

139 Comments on “Pontifications: Doubts continue over Boeing NMA launch

  1. The 797 is more of a “Super 737” than a long range 787. Few customers can do 7-12 cycles per day on a 787-8 and survive the resulting maintenence cost. The 797 must be able to do it and finish the day with a night flight, hence it can be priced like a 787-8 since its missions are so different and many customers would replace 2 ea 737-800 flights leaving withing 10-15 minutes on the same route during rush hours with one 797. That was the idea of the original A300 but it could not take the hr/cycle ratio that well.

    • Not sure I’m with you on that Claes; if Boeing wanted to build a ‘super 737’ they wouldn’t be calling it a medium range machine, and 7-12 cycles per day is most definitely short range.

      “. . . many customers would replace 2 ea 737-800 flights leaving withing 10-15 minutes on the same route during rush hours with one 797.”

      How many customers would do that, and what would they do with the aircraft outside the rush hours? c.f. British Airways and the L1011 (Tristar) – they had real trouble routinely filling that aircraft past its break-even. With two 737 you can at least leave one on the ground and fly the other at profit, or less loss.

      And if one 797 with 260 seats can replace two 737-800 with, say, 360 seats between them, it must mean that the 737-800 were flying with at least fifty empty seats each. That could happen but not routinely I think.

      • It depends on the # of seats in the 797. I belive in the end it will be close to 300 for these shuttle routes and some cross country flying before the red-eye back east. I agree off-peak hours you need to find longer range routes, but with increasing traffic at major Airports the “peaks”,”waves” or “banks” will last longer year by year unless you find many more slots and pilots at peak hours. In China they use the heavy A330 for a number of these flights and the 797’s could do it more efficient. 47 city pairs now have more than 3 million pax/year.

        • Your idea makes some sense.
          If you have the demand vor let’s say 280 pax out with one flight, Boeing is somewhat limited to 210 Pax in B7M9/T.
          Airbus offers A321neo with 230 seats – still 50 less.
          So if you fly 2-3 B738 about the same time, let’s say the afterwork rush hour or pre work rush hour ( 7-9am and 5-8pm) you could fly 2 B797 instead of 3 B738.
          And after landing on the east coast you send the plane out on the cross atlantic overnight flight to Europe, which arrives in the morning.

          On the other side: Are there that many routes?
          Airbus is trying to sell an A330regional for the kind of routes your are talking about – basically an A300 sucessor.
          Not build yet.
          The short range B783 – not built yet.
          The smaller A350-800 not built.

          There might be a reason for, no mid range widebody exists.

          • “Airbus is trying to sell an A330regional for the kind of routes your are talking about – basically an A300 sucessor.
            Not build yet.”

            That’s not true – Saudia ordered 20 of them (via IAFC) and has already taken delivery of the first bunch. I’m not aware of any other orders, though, and an A330regional is basically just a de-rated regular A330.

            If you’re talking about an A330neo Regional, you’re right – that hasn’t even been launched yet, but they’ve only really been talking about this since November 2018. And asked for clarification by Leeham, Airbus said they mainly wanted to point out the flexibility of the A330neo platform, which would allow for a regional variant as well.

          • the A330R is a paper derate of the standard A330, the only economic advantage it holds over a regular A330 is landing and overflight fees. you are still hauling all the weight of a 7500nm aircrafts on those <2000nm routes.

          • The Saudia A330R is nothing but an A330 with a lower MTOW on paper. The wing is not a bit smaller and lighter, the engines are the same.
            A real A330R would have a smaller wing, lighter structure, different engines.

          • @bilbo/Sash:
            See above – I’m aware the A330R is just a de-rated A330.
            There hasn’t been any serious talk that I’m aware of to actually do a regional A330 with different wings and engines. That would be quite an expensive endeavour and I don’t see much benefit in doing it, to be honest.

          • Asian airlines reportedly want 10T freight and the US ones 5. Cheap 330CEO might be the winner in Asia if NMA can’t deliver 10. In reverse a 10T freight capable NMA might be too much aircraft for US operators and push them to an A321 variant, there are plenty to choose from.

          • The A330Re (paper derate for lower Airport fee’s) is in operation, Airlines use lower fuel load and more Engine derate to save a bit more, but a 767 sized (less cross section than A330) composite 797 with suitable new Engines would be much lighter and really competetive for these routes.
            When Boeing set its range to 5000nm it will really replace alot of A330/787 Aircrafts doing these +1 million city to +1 million city routes around the World but the Engines will then be more “hot rod long range Engines” and maybe not really that durable to replace 737-800 flights at rush hours. We will see what engines Boeing orders in cost, mass, SFC, thrust and life on wing and what they actually get. I think P&W has an uphill battle after the A320neo intro especially if Qatar Al Baker will be a 797 launch customer…
            (Airbus hopes Boeing also will experience that explosive combination)

          • @claes: Re Qatar: See A Jones’ posting below.
            Qatar appears not to be interested in Boeing’s NMA.

  2. Simple enough solution. Boeing will offer it at a price that is above cost at worst-case scenario but not by 25%. If cost is $75m as you predict (but hard to know what to include into the per-unit cost; depends certainly on how many they expect to sell, I’ll assume you’re using an estimate that is Boeing’s worst-case scenario) then Boeing will offer it for $75 – $85m and take the chance that their market prediction is correct and that they will at least not lose money, and maybe make a lot more if the market is better than worst-case scenario.

    Another thing to consider is that the value of an airplane to an airline is not related to its size or passenger capacity, but how much profit it can make. It may be possible to make more money on medium-haul with a 200-seat 797 than a 220-seat 787 due to lower trip and fuel costs and higher # of cycles per day, in which case for an airline with many medium-haul routes, the value of a 797 may actually be close to the 787, with the latter boosted by its higher value to those airlines who do need the range.

    • Scott, any indication how much an A321(X)LR costs if you buy them as part of a pack of let s say 100 neos?

      The pricing issue is tricky indeed. I am referring to recent configurations of 321s vs 332, for example at Delta. The difference in seats – even when the 321 is configured very luxuriously – is not much. If you don t need the range of the 332, it is difficult to see sufficient space for a rather expensive medium rang plane.

      Claes, I am not convinced by your argument to use the 797 for rush hour missions. Couldn’t an older 330 or 767 do the same before leaving for a long haul mission at much lower capital costs? TK is using some of their 330s regularly for exactly that.

      • @Chris, the A330 and 767 are not really designed to take the high cyclic loads, especially its engines. The maintenece cost gets too high after years of compoud price increases. Initially both the A330-300 and 767-200 did not have the range and was used for short hopping, but as they grew in MTOW airlines used later models for longer flights and fewer cycles. The maintence cost for these 52-72k engines are mainly cycle driven and for the RR engine you can easy pass $6M for a major shop visit. Some engine types really like a lower MTOW and derate operation and stay on wing a bit longer.

        • Missing a point.
          You mix cycles. Usually you fly them with different planes.
          And the airlines did want the range increase, that’s why the B767-300 ER is the most built version of it.

          Yes, the A333 was a plane for long medium sized flights and short long haul – that’s why many of them fly inter asian or transatlantic routes.
          It’s an intresting question how much in % the A339/ B787 is suboptimal for short routes, and how much can be gained if you would use a more optimized plane for these 6h missions.

          • The big high thrust engines can run for many hours, but they do not normally stay on wing for more than 3000-3500 cycles. Some narrowbody engines do 20 000cycles on wing. They are designed different with colder hot sections for the narrowbody engines (not the same Turbine inlet temp) to make the Nozzle Guide Vanes and HPT blades and vanes survive more hot take-offs and climbs.
            A long range Aircraft do maybe 2 flights/day and is off duty for checks 1 day/week. Hence its engines can be more of hot-rods since they collect T-O’s so slow. Some use the 767 for jumping around domestically (DAL, ANA) but they pay for it, replacing them on these flights with A321neo’s saves them Money. The 797 design intent is to save them even more.

      • @ChrisAustria: Since the XLR has not been launched yet, this is a difficult question. Typically a package of 100 will get up to 60% or more discount from list price.

        • Thanks for that estimation. So, that means if you are a key customer you might get the A321 for around 50 mio $ or less if Airbus sees you as key customer to prevent a 797 launch.

          The 797 must deliver quite something to make you pay 50% extra.

          • Generally, aircraft Sales Contracts are formatted in strictly standard legal terms with nominal base price (separate for airframe and for powerplants) based upon current respective list prices, with escalation formulae readjusting the final price due upon delivery based upon industry indexes for airframe (again separate from powerplants) … Concessions thereupon normally come in free goods and services such as maintenance training, flight training etc, not as any direct cut on contract base price. It must be quite difficult to compare the level of concessions with final delivery price … 60 % discount on what exactly ?

  3. Boeing need to do an A321 sized airplane, 180-240 seats. Airbus will increase production of the A220 series/A320 series to 1000/year and perhaps more. Eventually half will be A321s.

    At the moment Airbus have a free lunch, even though the A321 is a compromised airplane because the wing is too small.

    My suggestion is a 180-240 seat airplane, with at least 60% composites by weight. Give it a development timescale of 8 years to allow time to remedy engineering issues, which Boeing clearly have. Let all three engine OEMs on board; nothing like competition to keep the price down.

    • Arguably Airbus have had a free lunch for 25 years now, thanks to Boeing not once being serious about replacing the 737. And the fact that they picked up the C series for free is truly astonishing.

      Boeing haven’t got any cheap options left; they are actually going to have to spend serious money on getting competitive again. It’s probably more than just aircraft designs though. They need a serious injection of long-termism into their thinking.

  4. This stinks of the ‘uber think’ that led to the A380 ie the figures keep on saying no so the senior management commission new figures. If they try hard enough they will square the circle with volumes that are just not there (AKA A380)

    I am sure the NMA would be a cool aircraft but it not the aircraft Boeing needs now. What they need to do is to start the B737 replacement. They can do this by developing the top of the segment with something more capable and efficient than the A321 in all its guises. The specification is pretty well defined but of course offering a lighter product with larger wing and more efficient engines will nail the market down (until airbus respond).

    This will allow them to keep pumping out the Max 8 whilst learning how to build a new single aisle cheaply enough to expand the production process. The massive steps made by Boeing in refining production should allow them to define the most efficient processes whilst also adopting new technology needed.

    So new CFRP wing possibly iterated to two distinct NSA sub-models, latest RR engines, fuselage offering more width but possibly of ovoid shape using carbon structures, FBW, studies in blended wing etc. Is this what Boeing has been doing all along but using the NMA as a smokescreen.

    • I agree with you with regard to what Boeing needs to do. But I don’t think there is a smokescreen.

    • Agreed.

      Institutional bias will have long since set in to any numbers generated or processed.

      Which is probably what the board are wary of – the 787 aftertaste – while mostly technical problems and not market scoping – still resides. They also have the A380 as an acute reminder of what happens if you get market scoping wrong.

      If Airbus launch the A321XLR this summer in the airshow season, I don’t see MoM getting build.

    • I think the 797 is a “General repetition” for a 737 successor, both designwise and its production setup. Looking at the high end car industry the robots are being used better, out of autoclave carbon fiber fast made injection molding structures are coming, So the 797 selling a few thousands might be worth it if Boeing can fine tune the NSA from it and reuse the good stuff. The timing of the NSA is probably when the next generation of engines are certified around 2030 with Engine preliminary design go-ahead 2020?

  5. “For an airplane that doesn’t exist, the prospective Boeing NMA continues to dominate much of the aerospace news.”

    What other Boeing program could need the distraction ?

    • @Uwe: Not a Boeing program. Have you thought about the head fake to keep airlines from buying the A321neo?

      • Scott: Pretty hard to even find an A321 slot these days.

        Also, airlines are not dumb, they will have a short and medium outlook and like Delta, buy the A321 for that and see what Boeing does on the 797 (or not)

        Boeing maybe head faking itself but I don’t buy it is doing so to muck up Airbus or the other airlines who will buy an A321 anyway if there is no 797

      • Zero learning, a fully elastic mind?

        Boeing tried that with the “NSA decoy”. How many NEOs have been sold? 🙂
        We also had the super duper 787 with vast amounts of super newfangled tech to kill of the A330 instantly.
        The soggy remains show that the 787 is boyed by the improved engines ( over CEO ) and not much more 🙂

        What is again visible is that American companies have problems using braincells without some epic machiavellian mindf*k at the core 🙂

  6. Thanks, Scott – I completely concur that the NMA is less of a certainty than a lot of folks make it out to be.
    I agree that Boeing’s hesitance – and engine suppliers’ insistence on single-source contracts – shows the business case really, really isn’t that clear still.

    But there’s another thing at play here, in my view, which is affected by Boeing’s hesitance, and which vice versa may partly cause Boeing’s hesitance.

    Boeing may have missed the window of opportunity here.
    When talks around the NMA (then MOM lane) first began, there was no A321LR, no A321XLR, and no 737-10. There was also no A330neo, and only the first few dozen 787-8 had been delivered, with the 787-10 still unlaunched. The NEO had only just been launched, as had the MAX.

    In that terrority, Boeing didn’t want an NMA to hurt its freshly-launched MAX, nor its 787-8. Which makes sense, but it also makes things tricky.

    But… customers still wanted solutions to their requirements.
    Hence the shedloads of 737-9 and A321neo ordered. Hence the A321LR and – if rumours are true – the A321XLR.
    All available at much shorter notice than an undefined NMA, and at a *much* lower price point.

    Scott, you were saying that the $65-70m price point airlines have in mind is ridiculously low. It may be if you look at it from the perspective of “hey, from-scratch new plane, new engines, all that”.
    But – from an airline’s perspective, what counts is how much better the proposed NMA is compared to what’s on the market right now. And thus what premium airlines are willing to pay.
    If my current fleet does ~90% of what the NMA could do, I’ll be hesitant to spend *that* much more on that NMA, because, really, 90% is pretty good in most cases.

    Today, the NMA has to slot in between the 737-10 and the 787-9 – and it also has to be sufficiently better than the A321(X)LR and 737-9 to make it worth doing a new plane.
    And the expected sales should not just be high enough to guarantee a certain RoI, but also to guarantee that Boeing is able to produce them at the maximum cost per frame that customers are willing to pay.
    That’s why we got so many rounds of NMA fine-tuning. Ranges, capacity, number of aisles… all very much fluid.
    Which of course told everyone: “This might still take a while, feel free to look elsewhere for your immediate needs.”

    As you rightly point out, initial talk around the 757 replacement started in 2012. We’re now 7 years down the line, and a launch won’t come until we’re 8 years down the line.
    Airbus pitched, launched, cancelled, re-pitched and re-launched the A350 in roughly half that time.
    Boeing themselves pitched, cancelled, pitched and launched the 787 in roughly half that time.

    Which is to say – 8 years between initial discussions and potential launch is a *long* time. It’s a long time spent trying to make all the relevant factors align.

      • I said shedloads of 737-9 and A321neo. “shedloads” referred to both combined. 🙂 I missed the -10, of course, which should also be included.

        • Lets not forget the 4 Revs of the A330 before they did the A350 and then did a Rev 5 of the A330 anyway!

          • I explicitly mentioned the A350 revisions, so I’m not sure why you’d say we shouldn’t forget those.
            I didn’t include the A330neo (or 777X) because the point I was making was really about the turnaround time from initial A350 Mk I pitch to A350XWB launch. Or from Sonic Cruiser pitch to 787 launch. Both show two complete reversals in approach between the initial pitch and the product that was launched – and yet they took *way* less time each than the whole MOM/NMA debate has already been taking.

          • What 4 revs of the A330 ?

            The A330 and A340 were designed together, to share fuselage and wings…

          • @Dukeofurl
            Given the context of my original post, I believe TransWorld was referring to the A350 Mk I, which was initially based on the A330.
            I don’t remember 4 major revisions of that particular concept before the A350 became the A350 XWB, to be honest, but never mind.

          • Boeing proposed a stretched 767 before they settled on the 777 size as we now know it.
            Was a proposal to airlines that never happened included as a ‘revised model’ now ?
            Think of all the 747 ‘revisions’ that never made it to production.

  7. 10+ years ago Boeing announced it was working to a very sensible 3 plane strategy long term.
    They now ( or soon will have) the 777-8 and -9 with a clear option to develop a -10 if the need arrives ( post 748/388).

    In the middle market they now have the 788/789/7810.Whist it would require a lot of work an ‘er’ may also be ( just) possible.
    (The Embraer merger covers the 100/175 ( one class) seat market.)
    It therefore seems logical – if they stick/ return to their 3 aircaft family strategy ,that they develop a successor to the venerable 737 series that was from the outset designed as a far smaller aircaft that it has now become – with all the inherent problems.

    The NSA would be,give or take,a ( one class) 200-250 family.
    Single aisle/twin aisle? One wing or two (range)?Who knows.But as above launched with a ‘proper’ time scale of development so that next gen’ engines are available.
    Designed with ‘mass manufacturing in mind from the outset.

  8. @Leeham states:
    “The investment community emphatically doesn’t want Boeing to do the program. Concerned only with stock price, shareholder buybacks and dividends, the community sees money being spent that otherwise goes into their pockets.”

    Have you seen Boeing’s stock price and market cap recently? I don’t think “The Market” is too concerned.

    Also, IMHO Boeing can easily fund this program from existing cash flow- even if its not too profitable.

    • @Jacobin: You miss the point, sort of. Yes, the stock is doing great–because in part the company isn’t doing the NMA. I’ve talked with the investment community for years and they do not want Boeing to do the NMA because they fear it will become another black hole like the 787 became.

      Absolutely Boeing could fund this out of cash flow, which is why Boeing says it will wait till after the 777X is flying in order to keep R&D spending level.

      • Interesting that they can do stock buy back out the wazoo despite that black hole!

        Agreed, on that side its all about money now and who cares what the company does down the road.

        Apparently there are no smart investors these days that know if you kill the Good laying the golden eggs the golden eggs quit after you dig the lat one out of the goose (makes you wonder if stupid investor go back a long ways doesn’t it?)

      • 8. Checklist said [quoting LNA],

        “The investment community emphatically doesn’t want Boeing to do the program. Concerned only with stock price, shareholder buybacks and dividends, the community sees money being spent that otherwise goes into their pockets.

        To which I replied to a comment by Jacobin777 [not sure it’ll post]:

        This is more along the lines of stock market short termism, per Ted Piepenbrock’s Evolution of Business Systems, known colloquially as Red-Blue. Although Boeing’s consistently strong financials would allay investor fears. The 787 seems like it’s on some sort of road to being a solved business case, in much the same vain that the -300ER forever changed the financials of the 777. And the 787 itself has underscored Boeing’s finesse with developing airliners that have very strong market appeal.

        ###

        For now, the NMA will have to be something I see to believe.

    • This is more along the lines of stock market short termism, per Ted Piepenbrock’s Evolution of Business Systems, known colloquially as Red-Blue. Although Boeing’s consistently strong financials would allay investor fears. The 787 seems like it’s on some sort of road to being a solved business case, in much the same vain that the -300ER forever changed the financials of the 777. And the 787 itself has underscored Boeing’s finesse with developing airliners that have very strong market appeal.

      ###

      For now, the NMA will have to be something I see to believe.

      • The problem for us wanting a new Boeng 737 successor is that Aircraft cross section, wings and Engines dominate the performance numbers.
        The advanced systems, Fly-by-wire, containers, centralized maintenence computer, ARINC Specification 664 Part 7, etc. is mainly icing on the cake. Boeing makes lots of Money on the 737, people still fly it with 3+3 seating, lease rates are good and to design a much better successor the main factors will still be cross section, wings and engines until there is a revolution in structures and systems for Aircrafts, like a fast injection molding carbon structures and single or no pilot systems.

        • Those 737s just keep on keeping , despite a design failure that meant the (single!) rudder actuator could some times jam and send the plane diving into the ground.
          Despite the fuselage ripping open on high usage early models, despite the fuselage ripping open
          twice in moderate usage -300 models ( the expense of repairs led Southwest to a scramble to quickly replace its ‘classic’ fleet- See SW 2294 and SW 812)
          We saw more recently failure of the engine cowling , twice, only lead to ‘more inspections’ , the AD which was resisted by the airline who was doing it anyway.

          This airline is wondering why its numbers of planes AOG due to maintenance issues has rocketed and is blaming the maintenance engineers

          • The fan blad issue is hard to discover, SWA did the inspections per the SB’s and the inlet met the certification requirements. “I suggest new certification requirements to test the blade-out in a RAM air rig with the flight inlet installed at air speeds of M0.8 the see if the deflections of the inlet cause the inlet to crumble in the wind”. The 737 might not have the advanced systems to help the maintenance crews but if you have +50ea you quickly know its ins and outs.

      • And the Titanic had a nice voyage until the ice berg slashing down its down, Hindenberg etc.

        Comments out of context are worthless if there is no dots to connect.

  9. Eventually Boeing’s product line will be obsolete, then what? Good for shareholders today to harvest value, but long term Boeing risks becoming the next MD. The 777x looks a lot like the MD-11 to me. Everything on the cheap, no new programs.

    If Boeing doesn’t do the NMA, what is their next move? The argument that there is no business case or low sales price for the NMA would seem to apply to the NSA. When can they close the business case for the NSA and perfectly define all the details and make a rational argument for every little decision? 2050?

    Am I watching a slow 30 year liquidation of a major company for the shareholders benefit? Maybe that is the rational economic course for them. Milk out existing products, spend no new money and take no risk.

    • Ted,

      I am split between your two possibilities.

      If there is not enough market then its foolish to proceed.

      Clearly there is a single aisle market and they need to replace the 737.

      Any project is going to cost 10-15 billion and they will take major loses even if its well run. So they have to sell a single aisle at 60 million and recover on numbers.

      What would be really stupid is to go with CFM and no GTF and shoot yourself in the foot. To me a CFM/PW tie up would make sense (GE and PW have done good work on the GP program) – but if the bird can’t justify itself then its a non issue anyway.

      Its a touch decision. The 737RS has to be an air-frame jump and an engine jump as well (GTF)

      Only the techno weenies know if they have an architecture for the air frame in mind as well as a production system that would get what they need.

      Tough calls. I would like to see a new bird but I also understand you have to have a successful program.

      While I completely discount Airbus, they could be right despite their bias.

      That actually is the one thing that makes me wonder, why would Airbus not let Boeing go over that cliff if they were sure it was a bust?

      Something to think about.

      • “That actually is the one thing that makes me wonder, why would Airbus not let Boeing go over that cliff if they were sure it was a bust?”

        Well, they want to sell their A321, don’t they?
        So their message is “no need for the NMA, we got you covered.” If they added “by the way, Boeing, please do the NMA” or (reverse psychology) “Boeing, please don’t do the NMA” that would be weird, wouldn’t it?

        • This sort of ‘think’quickly becomes old. Wanting or not wanting a competitor to do something is a mugs game. The only issue is a timely response. Interestingly the commercial airline industry seems to have its timeline determined almost completely by engine development. The received wisdom is that we gain 0.5% efficiency per annum. It allows an old school response B777x or A330neo to be highly competitive.

          My view is that both OEMs would be reasonably happy with their current line up and may be contemplating competing in other ways. It certainly seems that Boeing (and probably Airbus) is looking to focus on the cost side of the equation. Cost reduction on existing and well understood platforms being a safe and more controllable way of driving up returns.

          I see this being the case, with minor exceptions, until the existing template (twin engine, tube with wings, standard empennage etc etc) is challenged. Simply there are no sufficient gains to bother designing something new.

    • @Ted

      IMJ, 777X is set to suffer the same faith as the A345/A346 when Airbus launches a stretched 80 metre long, UltraFan powered A350-2000 (i.e. not a question of if, but when). One could even contemplate Airbus doing a tit-for-tat Boeing A343 Singapore Airlines type deal* with Emirates: Emirates orders 150 A350-2000NG and cancels 130+ 777X aircraft and with Airbus picking up the tab — i.e. Airbus’ Asset Management division taking up to 20 777-9s that are in production and which Emirates can’t cancel. What goes around comes around.

      * https://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/01/business/boeing-and-airbus-battle-over-singapore-airline-sales.html

      • I won’t be surprised if history repeats itself in a similar fashion. It may likely play out with Singapore Airlines again rather than with Emirates. Moving forward, the 20x B777X will be the only GE powered aircraft in Singapore Airlines fleet. Exchanging it for the A350-2000 would have significant benefits for the airline and help them streamlined their fleet. Furthermore the B777X would be right around 6yr old, just the right time for the exchange.

        • The A350-2000 will probably be major revised, new wing, new engines, new APU, new landing gears, new T/R, new pylon, new intakes and exhausts, revised structures. Alot might be common with the regular A350-1000 over time but my thinking it will almost be as different as the 777-3000ER is to the 777-9.

          • That doesnt follow. The 777 family is a design from the late eighties/early 90s which had plenty of advances for its time. However it was still constructed out of materials and used processes that were from the 60s and 70s. Its only recent advances were changing riveting from horizontal to vertical jigs !
            The A350 began as a revamp with Al-Li fuselage and a new carbon wing and then moved onto a wider body (XWB) and all carbon fuselage /wing combination. That has longevity that even a 777X doesnt have, but being a Boeing means it should do OK – at the right price and once again play in the over 400 seating area which is proven to be a hard place to predict demand even just 10 years out.

  10. It looks to me like the plane they need over time is a 737 replacement, so why are they not moving forward
    with that project *now*; why build the NMA in the
    interim?

    • The problem is that Boeing wants to have the cake and eat it too. They may be aware of the need for a 737 replacement, but at the same time sales & marketing execs don’t want to hurt current quarter 737 sales prospects. The NMA is mainly the product of executives within Boeing NAPD avoiding conflicts with counterparts in the 737 and 787 programs; Nevermind that a 737 replacement is needed, they need to launch an airplane (any airplane) to keep their jobs while not getting chewed by the 737/787 management for ruining their sales, which forces them into the “middle of the market”. The rest is made up justification for why no one can see the emperor’s new clothes (including Qatar Airways as of today):
      https://www.thestreet.com/investing/stocks/boeing-slips-after-qatar-airways-ceo-says-no-interest-in-planned-mid-sized-jet-14888878

      Boeing needs to look very closely at these execs and how they spend their resources if it has a desire to survive long term. Looks like this is just beginning to sink in.

  11. Boeing should put their money where their mouth is. Marketing rename NMA/NSA into something hot enough to make stockholders, supporters and the industry forget the years of indecision.

    Mass produced oval composites twin aisle for short flights never passed the sniff test for me. Boeing needs a light & lean air-frame, big quiet fans, engine choice, cargo container capability and “mass” production automation.

    Maybe 737 is past it’s expiration date. Slot availability, financing and fleet commonality probably won’t hold long term. I would say Don’t admit, but at least take action..

    • Even without a composite fuselage, the new aircraft would still have premium economics, capability, and cost compared to the A321. So tough to compete on price per aircraft. But on economics, there is a choice between a 5K nm composite NMA, or a size down 4K nm metal mid-capacity aircraft.
      If the A321 is a 200seat JetBlue density or 240 high density, mid capacity being 10% to 25% more than that. With a 3-3 metal fuselage slightly bigger than the A321, or 2-3-2 in a 15’8″ diam. fuselage. 42m folding wings and 40K to 45K engines.

      • Keesje: While I am not a corporate fan, someone has to pay the bills.

        I admire they are least looking into different not the same oh same oh.

        Airbus has done what lately? A copy of the 787 they were forced into.

        You seem hung up on the cargo bins, some use it and some don’t. Maybe a nice option, but that was on no ones radar in the 737 early days was it?

        And if Boeing does nothing and goes down the tubes Airrus wins. Whats not to like?

        • Airbus done what….. A350 is a replacement at the 777-200/300 end of stuff, older but still a goody A330neo is the 787 understudy (which prevents Boeing raising their 787prices enough to make room for a profitable 797….see Scott’s outline of selling prices.
          Boeing’s still in production oldys are relics of the rivet and cable age with multiple digital fixups… Just as well all the old guys are still around to explain how it all works……what that’s you say, that’s what they thought for the KC46…
          Oh Airbus did a carbon fiber winged military transport (with the engines giving them grief when you are an airframe business) plus the Eurofighter being decades ahead of the Boeing’s 1970s F15 and 1990s update of the 1970s F18….
          Yeah nothing at all…plus a better helicopter business than Boeing who had build a European type under licence for the USAF….righto the much vaunted US knowhow

  12. I think it’s all over bar the shouting for the NMA, in it’s current form, is a soap opera looking for an audience. Boeing will have to do something, but it won’t be the NMA in it’s current form.

    • Maybe so and maybe not, but it was interesting and like the Sonis Cruiser and the first 777 design, it can morph into another program.

      One of the key take away is its not just a new aircraft, its also a new production approach going all digital.

      I continue to admire the out of the fuselage thinking, the future of Aviation needs some big leaps and what we have right now is not it.

  13. This is procrastination in its most artfull execution.

    In my experience procratination happens when you have a really difficult peice of work ahead of you. So what is this all really about?

    Well we all know that the 737 is loosing out against the A220 / A321 fork. So Boeing has to do something about it. Most probably going bigger with the 737 successor and a new “Embraer”, possibly also with a 3-2 fuselage at the lower end.

    So far it’s simple, but now come the big questions: How much carbon (wings, fuselage,…) and which technology? Barrels or panels for the fuselage? Prepregs or resin injection? A two piece fuselage or even made in one shot or maybe plenty of small parts that combine like a jigsaw pussle? Still frames, stringers and skin like on a metal plane or rather some kind of sandwich? There are almost endless possibilities, each one with significant impact on cost and performance. And each one will require giant investment in development and for the production. Both Boeing and Airbus will have to bet the company on this.

    And it doesn’t end there. You still need to figure out the propulsion. As batteries are getting better every day, at what point will a hybrid drive make sense? Or are we going for hydrogen somewhere in the near future? Methane? But even if it’s only good old kerosene, there is still the big question of who to partner with. GE is obviously not in good shape and we have not seen anything about a geared fan. P&W could be the best bet, but what if the Ultrafan proves significantly more efficient?

    The 797 is the perfect project to practise all this, without causing damage to the current product, hopefully casing some confusion in the enemy camp (A321). But may procrastination is in fact the wisest thing to do right now. Let the engineers work on all this. Give them time to evaluate the possibilities.

    Just assume that you put your cards on the table, commit to certain technologies, start building infrastructure,… only to find yourself outmanouvered by your competitor one or two years later with something even smarter…

    • That is always true though.

      That is what R&D is for.

      Ultra fan in theory is not a P&W GTF built, so in this case, its a non issue though P&W is going to have a better handle on the tech and what can be done with it than RR. Nothing like having product in the field (they believe PIP I will get at least 3% and it could be 5% just on the existing setup)

      As for the build, tough call. But does it make that much difference? They tend to offset.

      Bjorn could weigh in but as I see it, Boeing is more automated with the 787 as its all tape layup via machines.

      Airbus has an easier time making the pieces, but its more hands on to assemble them with more structure and fasteners. Just making the pieces may be more hands on. The panels likely tape layup.

      Both will have pretty close to the same on the wings.

      Once industrialized both approaches work well.

      So you take your best tech assessment and shot and go with it.

      Boeing comes out with the leader and the 787 is doing really well vs both the A350 and A330NEO.

      Getting your foot in the door first counts for a lot if the product is good. Latter even if no longer the cutting edge, your costs are down as you get up the learning curve while the other guys costs are still high.

      As has been noted in the real world, doing nothing is always the worst option.

      Boeing is not going to go under if they do make mistakes. I doubt Airbus would either.

      • TransWorld,
        by using CFRP in a similar fashion as sheet metal (skin, stringer, frames,…) you waste quite a bit of its potential. Not only is it more expensive to make but you also lose a potential weight advantage. I’m quite sure that both Boeing and Airbus are very well aware of that. Don’t expect the 737 or A320 successors fuselage will be built with barrels or panels.

        • The point was the A350 did use just that method and by all reports did so extremely well.

          Obviously there is a trade off of some type that allows it to not only work but work equally with the 787.

  14. A decade ago there was the same situation. Boeing was dismissing the NEO as a catch up, Boeing would show everybody the way forward with the NSA. Then Airbus sold 1000+ at the Paris Airshow & AA gave Boeing 4 weeks to respond and still handed Airbus the bigger part of the pie.

    Maybe Boeing looked at the oval 2-3-2 so long they no longer believed their customers.

    https://patents.google.com/patent/US6834833B2/en

    From an Airbus perspective, they probably would love Boeing diving in the oval, composites, 5000NM without cargo niche, while trying to squeeze UTC, Spirit, GE, Safran. While they sell another 2300 A321NEO’s..

  15. “Everett’s Paine field to open for commercial fights Monday”- news item.

    The Seattle air passenger market is fragmenting to an airport 37 driving miles from SEA. Coincidentally, Everett is where Boeing makes its wide body aircraft. Their management would have to notice that their argument against the A380 (fewer hubs, more point to point) is being demonstrated for smaller aircraft (NMA?) in their own back yard. Oh wait. Headquaters moved to Chicago and the NW is only for production. Engineering will be moved to CA–the same wonderful folks who brought you the DC-10.

  16. “Everett’s Paine field to open for commercial fights Monday”- news item.

    The Seattle air passenger market is fragmenting to an airport 37 driving miles from SEA. Coincidentally, Everett is where Boeing makes its wide body aircraft. Their management would have to notice that their argument against the A380 (fewer hubs, more point to point) is being demonstrated for smaller aircraft (NMA?) in their own back yard. Oh wait. Their management moved to Chicago and the NW is only for production. Engineering will be moved to CA–the same wonderful folks who brought you the DC-10.

    • Thats ridiculous. Boeing Commercial Aircraft and its executives is still in Seattle like its always been, the Chicago corporate office with about 600-700 people would be one of Boeings smaller locations.
      Seattle metro area has a population of 3.75 mill, not surprising an available commercial airport to the north of the city-famous for its strangled traffic North -South- would attract airline service

  17. What would the MTOW weight difference between all composite 797 and metallic A321LR (for the same seating configuration)

  18. 15-20t I think, based on similar designs, incorporating technical advances.

    • I assume composite weighs more since a comparable 787 and 767, the 767 metallic MTOW weighs less

    • 20tonnes!
      That doesn’t add up as the difference between a 787-8 and a A330-9 neo (roughly comparable) is only 5-8tonnes.
      The weight advantage drops as you go smaller, 5 tonnes can matter on 12hr flights, not no so much 2 hrs and less, which is at the heart of Boeing’s current problem.

    • I kind of agree. The 737-8 OEW 45t, A321neo 48.5t, 787-8 120t. (wiki #’s) The 797 around mid way between 737-8 and 787-8 giving 82.5t, making the difference to the A321neo 34t. That is alot, but you fly further with more pax.
      The estimated 797 empty mass might sound high but with engines of around 100″ fan diameter you need a big nacelle and ground clearance with good size landing gears. 5000 nm miles range gives you a long slender wing for all the fuel and aero efficincy that has more mass than a short stubby wing. So the wings and engines will almost look like A330neo’s but more slender thanks to 100% carbon+titanium. The 797 body will be narrower and sculptured but with bigger diameter than the A321 your hoop load and bending loads are bigger and you need to use the carbon fiber to its fullest, still the day Airbus certifies a carbon wing and wingbox A322 the fun stops unless Boeing does some magic.

  19. One potential big advantage they could ‘lever’ pun intended,is hinged wings.The present aircraft are underwinged with very compromised aspect ratios ( for present 200-240 seaters).The reason ( mainly) is gate constraints.
    A hinged wing would overcome this a deliver a major aspect ratio advantage.
    Of course a carbon wing would also be much lighter.
    If Boeing can also introduce a more Lamar flow wing ( they are just around the corner it seems).Then in combination all this could add up to a major overall advantage compared to the present 1980’s offerings.
    Obviously a lighter carbon fuse would just increase that advantage as would second gen’ geared fans.
    They could make the present NB’s obsolete imho.

  20. According to the excerpts below from the 3-5-19 FlightGlobal article at the link after the excerpts, Delta CEO Ed Bastian seems much more impressed with Boeing’s NMA than do many of the people who are posting here.

    “Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian is encouraging Boeing to
    launch its proposed New Mid-market Airplane (NMA).

    “We are still very interested in it,” he tells investors at the JP Morgan Aviation, Transportation & Industrials Conference on the aircraft today. “Boeing hasn’t decided if it’s going to launch that aircraft – we hope they will.”

    Delta has upwards of 200 aircraft that it could replace with the NMA, says Bastian citing both its Boeing 757 and 767 fleets.”

    “Bastian’s comments today are not the first time he has expressed strong interest in the NMA. Last June, he told an audience at the US Chamber of Commerce that Delta had held discussions with the airframer on “being a potential launch customer” of the aircraft.

    While he does not make a similar statement today, Bastian is emphatic that Delta remains in discussions with Boeing on the NMA with the hope that it will launch the new greensheet aircraft.

    “Hopefully they’ll decide to go,” he repeats.”

    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/delta-encourages-boeing-to-launch-nma-456349/

        • Ok man, you know you are stepping on my turf?

          Your the numbers man. (and said in all jest)

    • And you can see Delta thinking, its a 757/767 replacement for them.

      One airline is flying 787 trans con.

      So it may well fit a whole suite and different ones for different airlines.

    • DL’s interest is well-documented, as is the interest of a few others.

      I think there is a misunderstanding here.
      Nobody is saying that an NMA would be a crap airplane.
      The point of Scott’s post and most of the comments is – boiled down to its essence – that the market might not be big enough for it. Or specifically: For Boeing to have sufficient confidence in the business case.

      And while it’s nice to know DL is pretty keen, that alone doesn’t give you a business case for a newly designed airplane. Note how in the article you linked to, AA and UA seem lukewarm at best regarding a dedicated new plane to replace 757s and 767s. They seem happy with 737-9/-10 and 787-8.

      • No disagreement, just that there is interest as well.

        Delta is a solid blue chip. That counts for vastly more than someone like Air Asia.

        And like the 787, Boeing is in touch with all interested (and non interested) parties and will make the call.

        • Whats Deltas growth rates compared to Air Asia ?

          Delta is 4% more pass for last 12 months and those at at peak of a longish boom in a mature market

          Air Asia is 7% increase.
          Air Asia takes about 25 new planes per year, and they dont keep them for 25 years

    • “Delta CEO Ed Bastian seems much more impressed with Boeing’s NMA than do many of the people who are posting here.”

      A plane tailored for his business, of course he does.

      From what we are seeing, Boeings CFO and head of future strategy doesnt think it makes sense for the business he is in.
      Boeing business is of course to make money for the stockholders and we know from just over the past 25 years they passed on some prospective planes and botched the last all new plane – which the airlines loved ‘too much at the good buy now price on offer’

  21. I would presume almost every US airline is looking for an aircraft one quarter larger than the A321. Delta, United, American, Southwest, JetBlue, Hawaiian, Spirit, and Alaska. Some looking for 5,000nm range, some 3,000nm. Not to mention the rest of the world, a vast market for this size.
    With Chicago Ohare being expanded, the question is if the 42m wingspan aircraft of this market will use folding wingtips at 36m gates, or if a new 42m gate category will be built for future needs.
    I believe the next new composite wings that both Boeing and Airbus build will be in this realm.

  22. Maybe the question needs to be “Did the B757 and / or the B767 make money for the Boeing shareholders?” The 757 was taken out of production too soon without an engine update; and the 767 is still in production in two or three iterations. They had to have been profitable… If you build it, they will come…

    • 9/11 killed the 757, airline production of all models fell off a cliff.
      Boeing had to make some cuts like that to allow other programs to survive.

      • I think realistically the 757 was winding down before that.

        It was a somewhat costly aircraft to build, the -300 did not sell all that well (normally the stretch sells better than the base design)

        And it was too soon in the internet order era and only UPS bough the F version in any numbers.

        If FedEx had their heads on right they would have snuck in after 9/11 and kept the line running. They now have over 100 that are PAX to F conversions. And that is the 200 not 300.

        As it hit over 1000 and was concurrent with the 767, there is no doubt it made money.

        Its current desire is more due to its current low cost than its good economics.

        Keeping in mind that the 767 limped along on buck up for the 787s that were not being delivered until the F desire by FedEx and the KC-46 extended it enough to be desired again.

        Despite the wave of 787 and A330s produced, you still don’t see large numbers available for the F conversion.

        They are getting moved to other passenger operations.

        The 797 would really have 3 markets, 757/767 and the A321/737 up size area.

        How much of that is enough for a program is a Boeing inside aspect.

        The only failed Boeing program was possibly the 747-8 and even its looking to carry on after the A380 is gone.

        Its sharing resources with the 767 program in Everett and that is a cost bonus. 747-8 may well make money yet.

        There certainly would seem to be a lot of market in the Asian area – thats where the A300 got its start and for good reason.

        Turkish Airlines area would also seem to be a good one.

  23. With GE reporting future negative cash flow and stock price decline, need to wonder if they are really interested in developing the NMA engine

    • That is why they want an exclusive.

      I think its a bad decision if P&W is not involved (or the GTF) at least as a partner.

      P&W has said the same thing. I don’t remember what RR had to say if anything prior to the bail out.

    • GE cashflow problems?…must all those GEnX engine sections they have to replace because they aren’t reliable enough, and the ramp up for the Leap production plus GE9X development ..
      In a way it puts Pratt and it’s partners in the hot seat as they are coming out of troubled waters with calm seas ahead , never been part of a widebody over the last 10 years.

      • Duke: You (deliberately in my take) conflate GE PIP and equivilaltise it with the Trent 1000 debacle (note that is what Scott called this as well)

        Issues with competent and mfg (per GE and the failed coating process) while not desired do occur (PW and the seal/bearing issues which are not heart of the core issues though they do support the core)

        RR had that occur with the milling on parts on the Trent 900. Nasty result but not a core or an engine issue.

        RR on the other hand did not even know they had a resonance issue with the 1000 and passed that onto the 10 and 7000. That is jet engine 080 level (100 is base freshman level, 200 is a Junior, 300 is Sophomore etc)

        All engine mfgs should be in the Masters or PHD level. That does not mean no mistakes, it does mean not basic mistakes in adding 1 + 1 and getting 2 each time.

        • One day you will stop making it up.

          If you did some resesrch you would know that GE are having problems with all their gas turbines. Particularly the hot section. That means aero, marine and power. Put it all together, GE are going to have to spend a lot of money, which is why cash flow will suffer

          For the record, in marine, Rolls-Royce have made some significant sales because of GE’s problems; in power, Seimens (who bought Rolls-Royce power) have also made some significant sales because of GE’s problems.

          Also, for the record, a PIP is something that improves performance by reducing SFC. The significant changes to GE’s GENX because of durability issues do NOT reduce SFC, so cannot be regarded as a PIP. So Ground Hog day. See ainonline.com. GE admits the durability changes are not a PIP.

        • Transworlds classes on advanced large turbo fan design
          and production , that would be an interesting syllabus to see.

  24. Still,
    I don’t see it happen.
    Of course there is the mom gap, for me it’s more the question if it can be sensefully adressed by an own family.
    Doesn’t look like.
    Boeing is already promising a lot.
    A cheap plane, new wing new fuselage, new business model, new system with suppliers and aftermarket, new oval fusselage, single aisle operating cost…
    and this for a clear defined market:
    – more pax than A321 (220+)
    – or longer range than A321neo LR
    – range from B788/A338 not needed
    So there’s a lower limit A321neo and an upper limit B788.

    I have no clue how this will work out.

    • So with just a small improvement from the engine side(CFM or PW), what are the odds the NMA will have a similar or worse off CASM compared to the A321LR? But having to wait until at least 2025 for something of that level isn’t very attractive.

    • So with just a small improvement from the engine side, what are the odds the NMA will have have a similar or worse off CASM compared to the A321LR? But having to wait until at least 2025 for something of that level isn’t very attractive.

      • I don’t know how that should work out.
        Boeing said they will offer a 2-3-2 config, which has another aisle just for one seat more then a single aisle. This will limit efficency and that’s why Boeing is coming up with that oval fuselage to minimize drag.
        The price are load beaks on the pressured fuselage, which usually demand a heavier structure. Also it’s unclear if it should be a composite or AL construction – first one should lead to comparable production cost than B787 – same fuselage material and same engine tech.
        If you go with a 2-4-2 config, you are basically building a new A300/A330 fuselage.

        The argument Boeing can make is that an A321LR does not really carrie over 200 Pax on a mission longer 5 hours.
        If you built in a 2+2 full flat C, which is necessary for 6hours+ missions, the A321LR is not even a 200 pax airplane.
        Just take a look on Seatguru and check the AA A321, they have a real business class and not even take 190 pax in.
        So compared to Boeings 225 pax in 2 class for the smaller B797, that’s 35 difference.

        To have a plane able to fly longer than 5 hour missions with 200 pax, Airbus would have to give the A321 another stretch to about B757 size, in the direction of 50m.

    • At this point seeing is believing for me from both manufacturers.

      AB is more in need of an MoM aircraft than BA which have the 788/9. Was wondering if AB is conceptually looking at a new 8 abreast fuselage.

      This can be used for an “NMA” type aircraft with 250 pax, 5000Nm, CAT-D wing, 50Klb engines and and for 330 replacement with 250-300 seats, CAT-E wing, 65-75Klb engines, 7500Nm range?

      • Really, Airbus in need, Anton?

        They are now making money on the lower side of NMA territory with the 321 in 3 versions. If they would see a possibility to gain enough money, I am sure they would have produced some sort of new A300-600 based on the 330-800, some sort of shrunk fuselage with a smaller wing. But they didn t.

        I am afraid that if Boeing decides to launch the NMA, many will be disappointed, simply because now everybody dreams of a plane that fits exactly their needs: size wise close to the 787 and close to the 321 and exactly in the middle, long range and short range, low capital cost and low operating costs just like a single aisle, carbon all new and still cheap and folding wingtips and a brand new engine that is cheap and reliable … I can t be!

      • I don’t think AB is in need of a MoM more than BA, in fact I think both would be better off doing the NSA first. The 737 is pretty much as MAXed out as it can be, A320 a little better but also showing it’s age against A220.

        Which is better, go after a dubious NMA market, and hope to sell 2-4k of frames, or be the first mover with a NSA that sells 14k over it’s lifetime (estimate A320 + A320NEO as an example) with a market that is very well defined ?

        AB is possibly in a better position here, do the A321XLR, see what BA does with the NMA, and in the meantime get on with the NSA using Ultrafan. BA is then busy sorting out it’s new process, and using the NMA as the model, while AB vacuums up the SA market from 2025/6 onwards.

        AB would ‘rightsize’ the NSA as A320 – A322, and into the lower part of the NMA as they have the bottom end covered with the A220. If it turns out there is a NMA market, they could turn their attention to that (if there’s any profit in it).

        BA might be doing a smoke, and mirrors number with the NMA, can’t close the business case but want to get on with the NSA before AB realises that’s what they are up to. I don’t think this is what is happening, I think they really do want to do the NMA to sort out the new process for the NSA, and are stuck in the mindset of trying to make the business case work for what they want to do, not what they should do.

        It seems that I am agreeing with Leahy when he said BA should forget the NMA, and do the NSA, but as some people have pointed out, just because he was part of the opposition, doesn’t mean that he isn’t right.

        • “Which is better, go after a dubious NMA market, and hope to sell 2-4k of frames, or be the first mover with a NSA that sells 14k over it’s lifetime (estimate A320 + A320NEO as an example) with a market that is very well defined ?”

          I’m not sure about first mover, to be honest. The A320/737 successor market is guaranteed to be big enough for two or even three players because one simply wouldn’t be able to handle the sheer volume of planes required.
          So I don’t think you (as A or B) should worry too much about whether you’re first or second, as long as you launch within a year or two of each other.
          See the NEO vs MAX story – Boeing has a less modern baseline that everybody agrees is now completely MAXed out, they were late to the party, they fumbled about a bit trying to decide whether to do a re-engine or NSA – and still they’re currently at ~45% market share versus NEO. That’s actually doing more than okay.
          And that should also be borne in mind when people say “don’t do NMA, do NSA instead”.
          Why would being launch the NSA now?
          They still have over 4000 MAX left to be delivered and last year alone they were able to add almost 700 (!) to that backlog. That’s massive.
          In other words: That programme is in full swing and generating tons of money.
          There’s simply no incentive to launch an NSA at this point while the MAX investment is paying its dividends so beautifully.
          By all means, they should do some preliminary research and development for an eventual NSA. But I don’t see a launch making sense before 2025 at the earliest That’ll be ~14 years since MAX’s launch, which still seems early considering MAX is the second-best-selling of all the 737 variants already.

          For context:
          It was ~16 years between the launch of the original 737 and the launch of the Classic, ~9 years between the Classic and the NG, ~12 years between the Classic and the NG, and ~18 between the NG and MAX.

          “AB is possibly in a better position here, do the A321XLR, see what BA does with the NMA, and in the meantime get on with the NSA using Ultrafan. BA is then busy sorting out it’s new process, and using the NMA as the model, while AB vacuums up the SA market from 2025/6 onwards.

          “It seems that I am agreeing with Leahy when he said BA should forget the NMA, and do the NSA, but as some people have pointed out, just because he was part of the opposition, doesn’t mean that he isn’t right.”
          True, that, which is easy to forget considering how, well, off he was on his predictions regarding the A380.
          At the time Boeing was talking up the NSA and saying that *maybe* Airbus could equal the NG with its NEO, Leahy was steadfast in saying that Boeing would not do an NSA at the time and instead launch a re-engined 737 instead.
          https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/air-transport/2011-04-15/boeing-will-show-new-narrowbody-re-engining-737-says-airbus

          • @anfromme
            I think being the first mover on NSA will be advantageous if you are AB because even if BA is just a few years behind you are offering existing 737 customers a step change in engine technology, and the cost benefits that go along with that a few years before the BA offering.

            Whatever the market share AB has, they must want to gain as many BA customers as possible. BA clearly has a strategy of trying very hard to keep BA customers buying BA.

            AB are currently recruiting engineers for a NSA, if BA get on with the NMA now, they will be a good few years behind AB with their own NSA (I can’t see them doing NMA, and NSA in parallel).

            There is a down side to first mover, the competition can see what your offering is going to be, and attempt to better it. Whoever does move first has to ensure that they have an offering that can’t easily be bettered.

            I did see somewhere that AB want to up the rate of A320 to 100 a month from around 60 a month this year (no timeframe that I can remember). This is quite a challenge for their suppliers, but if true it does show intent !

            Even at 60 a month that’s over 4300 out of the backlog in 6 years. Over 5000 if they can get to rate 70 never mind if they can improve on that.

            My thoughts are that AB would be targeting EIS around 2026 or 2027 for their NSA, but they would offer much earlier specifically to convert BA customers to AB.

            I do wonder what British Airways will replace their A380s with ? When they ordered the 777-9 they stated that it was the perfect replacement for their 747s, no mention of A380.

            I expect British Airways to use their current A380s for as long as they possibly can, Heathrow will continue to be slot constrained even when/if the third runway is built.

          • It will take years to ramp up 737/a320 replacement to 70 per month. Even if BA launched an NSA today it will be 203? before 737 production ends. I think, given the ramp up time, first mover advantage might be worth it, at least in BA’s case.

        • Just because he IS part of the opposition means he is not going to do Boeing any favors.

          Airbus is clearly totally in fear of the 797!!!!!!!!

          • “Airbus is clearly totally in fear of the 797!!!!!!!!”

            Could you elaborate why you think so?

            The 797 has been talked about for so long, Airbus have had plenty of time to come up with at least three options to counter the 797, should it even come to pass in the first place.
            They might be worried that their Plan A (squeeze the A321 for all it’s worth) isn’t going to work as well as they hope. At the moment, this doesn’t appear to be the case, though.
            Things can always change, though – but I’m pretty sure they don’t live in fear.

  25. If the business case for a two twin aisle 220/270 seaters / 4500-5000 M range is questionable, Boeing could choose a more profitable product line strategy that serves a much bigger market and deals with their current weakness in the larger single aisle offering:

    – A 737 replacement with 4 single aisle 6AB aircraft: 228, 204 & 180 (A321 size) seats optimized for short/medium range plus a single aisle 4500-5000 M range 228-seater (a version with modified/new wings and engine)
    – A light weight 787-6 and 787-7 based on 787-8 and -9 with wings and engines modified or new, for 4500-5000 M range, priced 10-15% lower. Such 787’s would cannibalize the current versions but also become a major challenge for Airbus A330 replacement sales – particularly in Asia.

    Boeing will continue offering the best-selling MAX-8, and eventually replace this and MAX-7 with a 5AB 110-165 seat product line to challenge the A320 and A220 – perhaps developed/produced in cooperation with Embraer.

    Would that be possible? Any thoughts on this? What would Airbus response be to this?

    Kenneth

  26. My post with a few clarifications:

    If the business case for a two twin aisle 220/270 seaters / 4500-5000 M range is questionable, Boeing could choose a more profitable product line strategy that serves a much bigger market and deals with their current weakness in the larger single aisle offering, sharing R&D costs, while reducing the number of aircraft families and benefiting airlines in terms of commonality, maintenance/spare parts and reduced costs:
    – A 737(-9/-10)/757 replacement with 4 single aisle 6AB aircraft: 228, 204 & 180 seats (smallest being A321 size), optimized for short/medium range, plus a single aisle NMA 4500-5000 M range 228-seater (same fuselage with modified wings and engine). 2025 EIS for the NMA version and 2027-2029 EIS for short/medium range versions. This requires two closely coordinated and parallel projects to ensure all versions are optimized for their missions.
    – A 767 replacement with a light weight 787-6 and 787-7 NMA based on 787-8 and -9 with wings and engines modified for 4500-5000 M range, priced 10-15% lower. Such 787’s would cannibalize the sales of current versions, but also become a major challenge for Airbus A330 replacement sales – particularly in Asia. EIS 2025-2026.
    Boeing will continue offering the best-selling MAX-8, and eventually replace this and MAX-7 with a 5AB 110-165 seat product line with 3 versions to challenge the A320 and A220 – perhaps developed/produced in cooperation with Embraer with EIS 2030-2035.
    Would that be possible? Any thoughts on this? What would Airbus response be to this?

    Kenneth

    • If majority of flights are 500 to 1,000 nm, and aircraft are shifting from the A320 and 737 to the A321 to 757-300 size you describe, where is the crossover point when twin aisle is the better solution? I say the 738, but maybe A321, A321 +4 rows, or A321 +8rows/753?
      If the sweet spot is the A321 plus four rows, a 48m or 49m aircraft, 204 mixed class or a 270 seat high density configuration. Twin aisle or single aisle? Higher densities (Spirit 270, Southwest 225) may favor twin aisles.

    • … a light weight 787-6 and 787-7 NMA based on 787-8 and -9 with wings and engines modified for 4500-5000 M range, priced 10-15% lower.

      Why should you offer such a thing and ruin the profitability of your best selling widebody?

      If you want to go cheap, you have to do it with a shelf warmer à la 330 neo, which in Boeing’s case would be an 8-abreast 767 based carbon-wing, re-engined FrankeNMA.

      • FrankeNMA -A joint venture between the Swiss sink and faucet manufacturer and Boeing? I guess Swiss made sounds higher quality than Snohomish County made.

      • @ChrisAustria
        Given BA have taken the 777, made it a little longer, added carbon wings, and new engines… maybe not such a bad idea for a NMA. The 767 production line is still building tankers, so why not just do a 777X on the 767.

        AB may be replacing some 757s with the A321LR, maybe a few more if the XLR does appear, leave them to it, and do a 767X as the NMA.

        I really don’t think AB is interested in the entire NMA market, just the bottom end, enough to annoy BA, enough to keep BA trying to close the business case for the NMA. They may be hoping that BA does the NMA, spends time, and money doing it, and then discovers that the market demand is a lot less than they thought. In the meantime AB gets a few more years ahead with the NSA.

        @TransWorld
        I really don’t think AB fear the 797(NMA), I think what they fear is that BA will eventually announce they can’t close the business case for the NMA, and offer a NSA, and get it in service before AB can get their NSA out.

        Follow the money, what ultimately makes both AB, and BA the most money, their single aisle or twin isle aircraft ?

        Would either AB or BA be able to lock RR into an exclusive deal on the Ultrafan say for 2 years after EIS. If either was able to do that, and was a year or two ahead of the other with EIS, they’d have quite an advantage.

        Could that be attractive for RR ? Maybe as they could develop Ultrafan-A, and Ultrafan-B versions, but have the opportunity to mature one engine before moving onto the next.

        So what I think will actually happen:
        BA will offer the NMA 797
        Very soon after that AB will offer their NSA
        Both programs take roughly the same time, I would guess they may have similar EIS (NSA simpler than NMA ?)
        BA will then use their new process to do their NSA, and it may be just that little bit better than AB offering, but the program will be 5 or more years behind the AB NSA
        Crucially AB will have been selling NSA into the market for some time before BA get there with their NSA

        I’m probably entirely wrong, I wait to see.

        • “The 767 production line is still building tankers, so why not just do a 777X on the 767.”

          Uhm, because if you stretch, re-wing and re-engine the 767, you’d end up with a plane that is effectively the same size and capabilities as the 787-9?
          I’m sure Boeing looked at that proposition before they did the 787, and in any case, it’s certainly not in NMA territory any more.

          • I think you do not get this.

            Its realty a 767-300 light with less range and new engines.

            The 767 is too costly to build and is too heavy a structure for that lower range mission.

            A 767-200 redo would compete with an A330neo much better in that lower area but how much market is there just for that?

            Costs are still high vs the single aisle cost economics you need to make it work if it can work.

    • Yes, I agree that there are two different mid-markets. Both are mid-capacity aircraft, A321 plus 10% to 30% more seating area.

      Market 1 is 5,000 nm range, with a high aspect higher speed wing. Market 2 is 3,000 nm range with a short range optimized slower wing, and most likely the requirement to fold into a 36m code C gate. The DC-8 63 had a bigger wing than the DC-8 61, so maybe something like that will happen.
      Southwest is growing a fleet of 175 seat 738Max. If they go bigger to a 225 seat 797, I would think they would want an optimized variant for the typical flight in their network.
      What’s the typical A321 distance? Short range. That’s the prize A and B will be chasing with a slightly bigger platform with a composite wing, and a geared engine. 2028/9 EIS?

      • It makes life easier for Boeing and the Engine suppliers if it becomes 2 different Aircrafts, one for 3000-5000nm with 250pax and one for up to 3000nm with 270-300pax. Each optimized for its operation. They will diverge in design like the F-35A vs. F-35C due different missions and the Engine designers can optimize the Engines for each type.
        RR might have been too quick to leave the 5000nm version that probably will come a few years after the 3000nm version.

      • “What’s the typical A321 distance? Short range. That’s the prize A and B will be chasing with a slightly bigger platform with a composite wing, and a geared engine. 2028/9 EIS?”

        For A that’s a 2017 EIS. 2300 A321NEO’s ordered so far, half with geared engines. And further PiP’s upcoming.

  27. Quantity has a quality all of its own — not sure where this came from but it seems to have some history describing WW2 tank battles.

    The B797 / MoM’ster is now having to re-live this particular conflict and it looks as if it is on the wrong side of history.

    At the bottom end it is trying to make a case for itself when it is up against a high volume product with an expanding set of capabilities.

    50T OEW of a high volume SA product will generate an acquisition cost that is hard to beat if you are a low volume TA with a lot of new / exotic tech to try and develop and more importantly finance.

    That would suggest that the new product would have to differentiate itself as best it can by moving away from its high volume lower bound but then it runs straight into its older / bigger sibling that is now generating lots of cash and helping to keep BA afloat.

    If the B797 MoM’ster turns out to be the world’s most wimpiest TA then it will have to deal with a high volume SA that can be nickel and dime’d upwards to more range and more payload.

    If it turns into a full B767 replacement — sold at 7 wide / bought at 8 wide –then it will hurt its bigger brother and generate more competition in the form of an A300 MK3 which will use any new engine tech to much greater effect.

  28. As above and re Flight article.Will the final answe be 2 model/variants? The former would of course be a repeat of the 757/767 programme(s).Thats gotta’ be too expensive no?
    But 2 variants? It’s relatively easy to see two wings .As described in the article for the very different roles.
    That suggests that a narrow,ovoid X7 twin aisle could be economic versus the standard single aisle.
    Not an engineer but seems that’s what they are postulating.
    Could they build two wings at the same time?If not which has the greater immediacy?
    Or is it all hot air?

    • Always possible (likely) its not a go.

      Hot air, I don’t think so. A lot more than one program is tied up in the next step(s) in the industrial process for aircraft.

      Feeding into that are some separate disruptive technologies (3D maybe the most so but also the more and more easily made composites)

      If you plan to blend those in as they mature then you can also maximize the cost run down they allow.

      Like open operating systems that everyone has the source code for (we had a fantastic thing going back in the CPM days only to get it hi-jacked by IBM who in turn stuck us with Microsuck)

      In the end the process will be used on a 737RS if not both.

  29. An ovoid 7 abreast 2+3+2 cabin fuselage (called also a “Fattie”) would require lotsa added stringers and thicker cross-beams and skin etc in the parallel sections to contain/prevent damage from cyclic cabin pressure fatigue … plus a heavy tapered tail section aft of the bulk-head … Translate this into additional OEW/seat vs the almost-circular A32X cross-section 6 abreast 3+3. I don’t know how the induced drag/7 vs ditto/6 of an NMA Fattie vs its A32X competitor would compare but I see a good reason to contriving a BWB (best wing-box) airframe design solution (cf Prandtl) for the NMA, minimizing induced wing drag to compensate for the Fattie fuselage.

    Remember = a reduced fuel consumption of – delta.f % per seat.km equates a trip yield increment of roughly delta.y % = + 2 x delta.f %

    Let’s hope we’ll soon see some really snazzy new flying contraption in the airspace above Renton, Everett or wherever appropriate for Boeing to assemble their NMA ??

    • No need to square it…they definitely aren’t full speed ahead, it’s the same delays every one else is saying. I don’t know that Reuters is well known for being ahead of the specialist aviation analysts, and their reporter has only covered this beat for 9 months…I don’t know this but I’m guessing this story was written “out of Chicago”

    • Time for the Boeing sequel, ‘The Incredibles 2’. Build a greenfield factory and EIS 2024.

  30. What is the A320 development glidepath?

    Currently nickel and dime’ing the platform to increase the MTOW and increase the range — no new engine tech seems to be involved only PIP’s at best.

    What is the plan for the medium term?
    New wing family / engine development / fuselage length changes / 110T MTOW and a A322 variant?

    Longer term — 2030 plus … ?
    Brand new wider fuselage with new materials — 10% weight loss apples for apples?
    New wing box / 130T MTOW potential / brand new engine family?
    New design now working with an improved A220 to segment the high volume SA marketplace?

    If the B797 MoM’ster gets launched as a TA / 7 wide wimp then things might change but AB should have data vault full of plans waiting to get the green light.

    If both AB and BA get cold feet regarding significant progress would this encourage competition to enter the market?

    MC-21 with modern engines would look to be a very competitive alternative.

    • MC21 does have modern engines , an option is Pratts GTF.

      I always though a danger, especially for Boeing and a lesser extent Airbus, was if Embraer decided to haves its own FAL for the MC21 and leverage its E jet customer support . Airlines would love a new reputable player in the 190-200 seat market.
      Certain recent events, which in the long view are connected to making sure Embraer one way or another, doesnt compete head on with Boeing in the future. Could be the money for the JV has meant the delay for the 797 ? Boeing could easily do both but its quarterly cash flow numbers for Wall st( while still good) would be down a few $bill

      • Duke:

        Some odd statements. P&W is the engine on the MC21, the Russians are working on an alternatives, so that is the so called option.

        China would be better off to license make that aircraft.

        Embraer never was going to compete head on with Boeing.

        A lot of speculation based on nothing.

        I would be rich if I wsn’t so poor.

  31. Could the NMA end up on the back burner for BA now ?

    If, and it’s a very, very big if due to lack of solid facts, and no evidence to support such a conclusion, it were to turn out that the Ethiopian 302 crash was due to MCAS, or another issue to do with the MAX variant changes, it’s possible that airlines might start cancelling 737-MAX orders due to their own, or their customers lack of confidence in the aircraft.

    I suspect that BA would in such a scenario have to prioritise fixes to the MAX, and might potentially have to re-certify the variant. A lack of confidence in any aircraft variant of that magnitude would surely provoke a completely new design to replace the current line ?

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