NMA is a briar patch, top Airbus salesman says


May 21, 2019, © Leeham News, Toulouse: The chief commercial officer for Airbus half hopes Boeing will step into a briar patch and launch its long-discussed New Midmarket Airplane, but the real message is clear: leave well enough alone.

Left unsaid it Airbus doesn’t want to have to launch a new airplane of its own.

Christian Scherer, the chief commercial officer for Airbus, said he wouldn’t speak for Boeing when asked if Boeing “has” to launch the NMA because of the declining market share of the 737 MAX vs the A321neo and inferior range and field performance of the -9/10 MAXes. He questioned Boeing’s own position about the NMA.

He made these remarks on the sidelines of the annual Airbus Innovation Days pre-air show briefings.

“I’m not sure they have a unified position on it. What I want to say is that we are in a very competitive duopoly, which is great for our customers,” he said. “There’s competition everywhere. You don’t have to dominate one segment or the other segment. There’s quite healthy business in it for Boeing on the 737. There’s quite healthy business in it on bigger airplanes. I’m not sure they have to do anything. Do they want to do something? Yeah, maybe.”

What does the NMA bring to the market?

“But the fundamental question is, what do they bring to the market?” Scherer asked. “If the primary driver is a selfish one, to integrate their supply chain and make capability more on this new program, that’s one thing. But what does this airplane bring? I haven’t seen any significant new technology.”

Christian Scherer

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has been clear that the NMA will use technology developed from the 787, 777X and 737 MAX. Advanced manufacturing production is becoming increasingly the public focus for the new airplane, from Boeing’s perspective.

From the airline’s point of view, Boeing says the NMA will lower economic costs vs the remaining 767s, 757s and A330 classics by 25% to 30%–a huge benefit Scherer glossed over.

“It’s the competitor in me that says there is a side of me that wishes Boeing steps into this briar patch. But they have their own reasons for doing things. All I can say is that Airbus has a very, very healthy situation with two very, very advanced programs like the A321neo and the A330-900 to address this middle of the market sector.

“You have an A321 that is gradually moving toward trans-Atlantic range capability. You have an A330 that we can densify to a point that it offers absolutely unmatched seat cost capability for this market segment. Why the hell would you invest $12bn or $15bn to go into this marketplace and get stuck between a rock and a hard place?”

Game playing

With an A330neo that hasn’t yet taken off in sales, and Boeing claims the NMA will be more economical than the Airbus, it’s not to Airbus’ advantage to do anything but talk down the NMA and discourage market interest.

It’s a game Airbus and Boeing play frequently. Boeing talks up the NMA—though it dithers with a decision—in hopes of persuading airlines to wait before potentially ordering the A321neo.

Boeing’s Authority to Offer its airplane for sale was expected at the Paris Air Show next month. The MAX crisis likely delays this ATO until at least the fourth quarter.




107 Comments on “NMA is a briar patch, top Airbus salesman says

  1. While the A321 certainly occupies a good part of the NMA market, so is the A330neo a total non-contender.

    If it was that good, sales would show that. The lack of sales is a very clear indication that the market does not perceive the A330 as an NMA competitor.

    Or the upper part of the market is totally inexistent?

    • A330Neo has orders for 245. That’s not exactly non-contender territory, when the NMA from Boeing has zero orders (that we know of, but who ever heard of a non-launched aircraft that’s racked up multi-hundreds of orders?).

      145 of those orders are from American airlines or leasors.

      That’s plenty to be getting on with, and there’s a whole heap of A330 operators out there who’ll be looking for new airframes in the coming years. Airbus have made it very easy for them to repeat order.

      Whilst that’s no guarantee of success for Airbus, it’s hard to see how they could have made it any easier.

      • Stalled at 245 and those other order have severe competition for 787

        Neither one is an NMA

        I would guess the NMA has 300 as soon as its announced.

        Lot of people want to replace the 767 for which Airbus left the field (pun) (driven out lo many years ago.

      • the A330-900 has 242 of those orders doesn’t it? the -900 is a direct competitor with the 787, not the NMA

        that means the -800 which is the “NMA adjacent product” is not a good fit.

  2. ‘From the airline’s point of view, Boeing says the NMA will lower economic costs vs the remaining 767s, 757s and A330 classics by 25% to 30%–a huge benefit Scherer glossed over.’

    Well this is the big one. I would be keen to see a definition of economic cost. I don’t doubt that it will be efficient. Up against the A321neo I would be surprised to see a massive gain if any and that is the primary competition.

    The NMA strikes me as the A380 of the middle market, it is attempting to address a market segment that is slowly atrophying out of existence. Whether we like it or not the move on medium haul (for want of a better term) is towards the SA stalwarts of neo and MAX and it would have to be a very large airline who would want to mix fleets for a little bit more capability.

    Surely Boeing know that any sign of success for the NMA will unleash a A322 response which will bring the capability gap down to a few percentage points (range/payload). This aircraft is the scary one as it gives Airbus an opportunity to drive selected enhancements such as bigger, possibly carbon, wing and wing box within an existing product. Further it could be developed in iteration to replace the whole A320 range with a A220 -500 mopping up the lower end.

    IMHO the NMA is the wrong response of a company which is flailing around for something to publicise. The only rationale is to use it as a loss-leader to assist developing new production techniques. $12bn is a lot of cash to learn those skills

    • I would call it a market that is hashed by poor offering below and poor above, both for technical reasons.

      The A321 simply does not have the range and pax capacity

      The A330 no matter how you cut it is even less capable than a 767 which is too big (heavy) for that mission.

      I can run my Passat at Indy and win, as long as my competition is a 1967 MG Why?, I have the RANGE And I can carry 4 other people in comfort doing it. I can carry their luggage to.

      Now I can’t beat any Indy car (before 1960?) but I might on pure saving of fuel stops.

      Its all a trade off. Sure you can put a Peterbuilt Pickup (A330) on the track, it can haul far more, but I don’t NEED that, Passat for the mission.

      Have the Pete pull a trailer and I beat it on speed.

      • I agree with all you say but too much of the market can be accommodated by the A321/322 to make the NMA vulnerable to constant aggressive price competition. The arguments have been had a million times over but a technical breakthrough will cost more than $15bn, a lot more given the B787 track record. The upside volume is limited. And the niche is encroached at the bottom by an aircraft that is considerably cheaper.

        As for your Passat, I suggest you slap a couple of CFRP wings on it and enter the contest…

        • And that realy is the big question.

          Is there enough market there?

          Arguably the 767 was never replaced (not the ER versions) and there was 1000 of those built.

          That is truly the unknown along with other markets it would open up and or serve better than anything else.

      • “The A321 simply does not have the range and pax capacity”

        Thats why the A321XLR/A322 is supposed to be the works , it only has to beat the ‘250 pass trans Atlantic capability’ that the smaller end of the NMA will target.

        • Again, that is the big question. The 757-300 was not a success.

          Sure you can pack em in like the 737-MAX100 or whatever Ryaniar is taking.

          But can you do it Trans Continental US, Atlantic, Africa , Asia routes?

          More wing, more engine and longer fuselage and you have a 757-300.

          • Yes. But A321LR is already effectively a 752 replacement. And as the 753 was not a commercial success, that really leaves just the 767 replacement market for the NMA, does it not?

      • The NMA / MoM’ster has issues regarding what exactly it is going to be — all we seem to have are two passenger numbers and a potential engine size which could be a maximum number for a variant in the future or it could be a number for the Job 1 aircraft?

        The base question is what kind of MoM’ster are we going to get?

        What are the weight numbers — 65T OEW / 75T OEW?
        How big will it be in terms of interior volume — B767 on a diet?
        Real world range numbers / payload numbers?

        The current A321 is making the MoM’ster product space that bit smaller.
        The proposed A321 XLR will narrow the gap still further.
        An A323 / Big Wing @ 110T MTOW and 5K+ NM nominal range will blow the doors off the B797 business case and leave Michael Caine speechless.

        Consequently what numbers make the B797 credible?

  3. A330NEO’s are capable long haul machines, competing with the 787’s. No real middle of the market aircraft in terms of capacity, range, price, weights, engines & operating costs.

    I think Boeing could dominate in the 200-300 seat, 3000-4500Nm market with an optimal, light design.

    Problems is Boeing are increasingly pushed around the place in the NB segment & can’t look the other way, saying it ain’t so..

    • With a (5000?) backlog on the 737, I don’t know if pushed around is the right word.

      Not as good as the A321 for sure, fairly equal to the A320 (assuming it gets un-grounded )

      That they need to fix this yes.

      But if you have the NMA that competes and exceeds the A321 and any variation, then you can optimize the 737RS by focusing it more in the A220-100 to 500 region vs trying to stretch across the entire spectrum.

      Airbus has the A220 now that Boeing also has to compete with.

      Clearly what Airbus fears is Boeing will pull off a 787 done right and then they have to respond with a new program.

      Panic in Toulouse

  4. Up his sleeve, Scherer has a third trump card that he may play down on the Airbus offerings palette any time with ultra-short lead-time and quasi-immediate ramp-up as sweeteners, with safely contained non-recurrent production costs to Airbus plus with unbeatable economics and proven safety to convince customer airlines vs any Boeing high-risk NMA newbuild : I have named the A322 concept 210″/10 frames stretch beyond A321, a jack-in-the-box NMA deterrent potentially available to Scherer for ATO scramble on one month’s notice any time …

    • Much like the stretched A320 to compete with the MAX8 that we have not seen?

      • @TransWorld = the certified exit limit of the A320 was 180 pax (vs 189 for MAX8), until 2015 when Airbus tweaked this number to 195 pax, up 15 pax as FAA/EASA authorised revisions thereto without demanding anymore the so-far compulsory real life evacuation demo in 90 seconds. Remember A320 has 1L/R + 3L/R 32″ x 73″ size Type B exit doors fwd and aft. Boeing tweaked their own exit limit for MAX8 to 200 pax (the Ryanair ‘Sweet Point’), up 11 pax only = better not wake up a sleeping dog ! With the 4 extra seats gained vs MAX8 there’s no need anymore for an A320+ ! (and the whole – purely theoretical – discussion is futile anyway, as nobody except possibly MOL himself would ever have the nerve to install 200 seats in a MAX8 or 195 seats in an A320, Dieu merci !)…

  5. I’m sure Boeing is taking Airbus’ caution very, very seriously, because of course Airbus has Boeing’s best interest at heart and is in no way concerned about its own product line gaps. Nope, just two old friends wanting to keep the industry healthy, ya know?

  6. When Boeing launches the NMA, we can be certain it will target a weight, range and payload sweet spot that neatly fills the gap between the A321neo and A330neo.

    If there is a gap for Boeing between the 737 and 787, there is also a gap between the A321 and A330.

    • yes, but it is considerably smaller in the case of Airbus.

  7. I think an A322 will come sooner rather than later. The A220 will take over the 110-160 seat market. An A322 will have 180-240 seats in 3 models, a new wing and new engines, and perhaps a new fuselage. A NMA launch may just be the catalyst.

    Should Boeing launch an NMA? I think a NSA would be a far better idea.

    • NMA hammers the A321/322

      NSA competes with A220-100/300/500

      A320 goes way

      • You are somewhat correct beyond

        NSA requires a response from Airbus which suggest parity going forward.
        A220 cannot be the main focus of the Boeing attack unless the E2 does the job which I doubt.
        The conundrum is the NMA and that is what brings us all to cyberspace.

      • Not sure about NMA hammers the A321, I think the NMA would be too large, A322 maybe, if it ever gets built.

        NSA may well compete with the A220-100/300 etc.

        A320 gives way to Airbus NSA, timing is going to be interesting here, AB is already recruiting for engineers to build their NSA.

        If BA get tied up refining their process with the NMA before they attempt a NSA, AB could be first to market with a good enough NSA.

        So is carbon body a must for NSA, or will carbon wings on Al-Li body be just fine ?

        Engines, well Rolls pulled out of the NMA, it may turn out to be a good thing, if they can get a NSA sized Ultrafan ready for a year or two after NMA EIS (possible if it’s delayed a little due to MAX issues), less thrust, less risk than a NMA Ultrafan, it just might suit Rolls, and Airbus, and be in the air well before BA gets their NSA airborne.

  8. Airbus does not want the NMA on the market because, while they could quickly respond with a A322, that would lessen the demand for the A330 NEO.

    • I think the A330/787 are nearly twice a heavy, capable & expensive as the bigger NB’s. Personally I think Boeing’s NMA specification will shrink overtime..

      • A330 is no where close to what a NMA or an A321/22 is – that is just Airbus spin.

        A 767-200 is closer and its still way too heavy

        • And yet they keep talking about a “767 replacement” (not only a 757 replacement) …

  9. As they say in Milwaukee, Fear the Deer!

    Airb8uis is terrified Boeing will do the NMA.

    They are literally pleading to let sleeping dogs lie, don’t shake things up we might (Gasp) have to do something.

    No no, you have your advantage here, we have ours there, no sense in a full across the spectrum competitive. Trust us here, you MAX is really better than you think.

    Please don’t make us do something, pleasure……..

    • Yes, Airbus is shaking in terror over the ever looming NMA
      forever just around the corner to the next year.
      Only slightly less angsty than their fear for the coming of the NSA mirage back in the NEO days. Another MAXed out proposal from Boeing? 🙂

      • Then why not let Boeing just sink themselves into a hole?

        Methinks Airbus protestith too much.

        Be Afraid, be very afraid.

        • Not afraid but annoyed that they have to make the decision to compete to ignore, this is a €10bn decision that they would rather not make given they are winning in SA.

          The gaming is very interesting, one wins, or both lose, classic stuff

        • In my opinion, the irony is that it might not be in Airbus’ best interest to let Boeing sink into a whole, let alone not exist anymore. This is a extremelly profitable duopoly for both companies and if Boeing ceases to exists some other would start taking it’s place and that would bring uncertainty. Airbus might not even want 70%, 80% or 90% market share, flcutuations around the 50% is the ideal in that game.

          I’d also agree the Airbus might not want Boeing to laucnh a new programme, since that would force them to invest. And that is the reason we should all hope that Boeing launch a new aircraft and bring some movement into the market.

    • I have the same feeling. Airbus addresses the NMA in the media more than Boeing does. If they are not worried, why always say something about it?

      • Because in the sales campaigns its always in the background, a mythical beast that can be both double aisle at single aisle prices , have high efficiency engines and cross the Atlantic but not too much further.
        You would wonder if even half these things are true why isnt Boeing saying anything , other than its postponed again. Remember the sonic cruiser ?
        Boeing has invested heavily in dead ends in carbon fibre production, theres no resin infusion ( like Shorts factory in Northern Ireland) there is no out of autoclave ( like Irkut, also resin infusion), theres no FML ( like Glare panels), theres no thermoplastic instead of thermoset .
        They bought into Embraer , who havent got any advanced composites production of their own, and whos planes have a very high % made outside suppliers.
        For a NMA plane that will be in production for 30 years, the engineers are saying make the big leap what ever the cost, while accountants are saying we can do another $15 bill development which balloons out over $35 bill. And to top it off Muilenbergs last big project he was responsible for as division head was the X-32, before getting into ‘corporate’ senior management.

      • Perception bias?

        MEDIA Q/A result, isn’t it:
        Media: What will Airbus do in respect to the NMA/MOM …
        A: …

        That is not really what I’d take as Airbus giving more reference to $X than Boeing.:-)

  10. Boeing does not really have any options but to launch the 797 as soon as the robots knows how to build them quickly and cheaply in CFRP. It will most likely be in a 250 seat and 300 seat single class versions for the price of an A321neo. What can Airbus do besides the A322 and a greatly reduced mass and cost A330neo. Will Boeing be able to make the 797 cheaper and quicker than Airbus building A321/A322’s? If Boeing goes for a big LEAP engine and the A322 gets a switch in alloy to Al-Li, new carbon wing+wingbox and super efficient RR Ultrafan engines of 37-42k it gets really exciting.

    • Dear all, for the record: There is no cheap CFRP!!!

      Only the raw materials cost more than 10 times that of aluminum. And no matter if a plane is made by robots or men, production time is also 5-10 times longer.

      This is probably the fundamental issue why Bombardier failed with the now A220. Only the CFRP wings make this plane roughly as expensive to produce as for example an A320.

      If the 797 will have an oval fuselage to be competitive with narrow body airliners it will most probably have to be made from CFRP. The fatigue strength of aluminum with not suffice and it will be to heavy anyway. And while we are at it, the wings will also be from CFRP. This means production cost will be way beyond the A330 and close to the 787.

      Now try to cover the development cost when you have to sell the plane at cost price. That will take some very creative bookkeeping.

      We are producing CFRP components for 20 years now, constantly trying to lower production cost, but all we gain is eaten up by cost increases, so our products are effectively better but more expensive than 20 years ago.

      So, from all I’ve heard about the 797 – just forget it. It’s not happening.

      • If there is no economic case for a CFRP fuselage, make it AL, be that a wide aisle 3-3 at 162″ od, a 2-2-2 at 172″, a 2-3-2 at 192″, or a 2-4-2 at 212″. I’d be surprised if there isn’t a business case for a CFRP wing on a 125t to 175t aircraft.

        They can call it a small market, but I think it will be like the SUV, no market until they start making them, then suddenly more interior volume seems very logical and popular.

        • Wow, so CFRP 10x Aluminum

          It take 10x the time to put together

          So a 787 sells for what, 1 billion? Really?

          The A350 for 1.5 billion? Really?

          • Just the 787 and A350 made a step change in cost and productivity for CFRP, there will be further steps in speed and cost. Just look at the LEAP-1 fan blades most likley halved its in-house cost a couple of times. You might not need perfect plies of CFRP baked in autoclave everywhere and can go with lower strength fast hardening car grades in places. Boeing most likely is working hard with Electroimpact and similar suppliers to get good enough quality with speed and meeting cost. The T-X might be one stepping stone.

          • I don’t believe it either. The wing dosnt actually weigh that much, so the material cost isnt that high and you need less of it.Consumables and processing are surprisingly expensive, but look at the small number of big mouldings involved in the A220 wing, the savings in joining must be enormous. Assuming you can’t fill an a319/737 7,an A220 is worth more because it transports the number of passengers that you have more efficiently. It would be great to get some figures but I believe that large carbon wings are probably no more expensive to make than aluminium ones, or that will very soon be the case.Its a killer app, wings (behond a certain size)were born to be made of carbon.

          • “So a 787 sells for what, 1 billion? Really?”

            Hes not saying 10X the selling price. Its the cost of the raw materials, those Al sheets and ingots when they arrive from Alcoa ( or what ever its called these days).
            Simple fabrication costs are probably a lot less, but you have to account for higher wastage ( which isnt reuseable) and the autoclaves cost and cycle time.
            Think of car manufacturing, the completed ‘bodyshell in white’ is only a fraction of the final selling cost of a car as its all the other stuff , including power train that makes up the value. Interestingly its the seats which are the next most expensive cost in a car after the engine. ( Do a 300 seater plane seats cost more than the fuselage shell they sit in ?-excluding nose and empenage) The body in white is quite a low production cost with automation, but expensive to develop. People a lot closer to car manufacturing than me could give some better relativities.

      • I think Gundolf’s numbers may even be low. To use an analogy where we can get hard numbers – Bicycles. Many companies offer the same bike in an aluminum vs. carbon frame with similar components. For example, a Santa Cruz 5010 Aluminum is $2700, Carbon is $4000. Estimating the frame at 6.5 lbs, you are paying about $200/lb premium. This $1000+ Carbon premium shows up in both road and mountain bikes, and they have invested a lot in production technology. Why is it not 10x? Because the components and major assembly are the majority of the cost of the bicycle.

          • At Arevo they need “one day” to make a CFRP bike frame. Let’s be optimistic and say that’s 12 hours (while in fact it may be closer to 24 hours currently). This is not much different from hand-laminating a “simple” CFRP frame, but in fact many modern frames take a lot longer to make.

            Welding an aluminum frames takes about half an hour, no matter robot of man. Ad some 15 min. for all the works around it. This makes 1o frames in an 8 hour shift.

            Regarding material cost. The prepregs we use cost us between 120 and 500 EUR per kg. If you buy this in huge quantities but aircraft certified I guess you end up around 100 EUR/kg. Aircraft grade aluminum cost about 2 to 3 EUR/kg, not sure about Al-Li, but it should not be that much more expensive.

            As stated before, this is of course only the “empty shell”.

            I’m not saying that CFRP for planes makes no sense. Quite the opposite. But you have to be aware of its high cost involved.

        • The bike frame manufacturers does not afford the most advanced manufacturing and inspection robots for carbon fiber frames.
          For Aircrafts it is mainly the wings, tail, stabiliser that benefit from carbon fiber construction and some corrosion sensitive areas in the Aircraft structure. Engine, pylon and nacelle is getting more carbon fiber. Look at the LEAP-1A made in large numbers with its carbon containment case and fan blades. CFRP solutions comes first on long range Aircrafts/fighters and as the processes gets more effective it moves to narrowbodies just like the GE90 to LEAP fan blades that are higher stressed than any Aircraft structural part (except maybe the wheel axis or MLG pins)

      • raw materials cost is in a way a detraction.
        CFRP has minimal losses. Al* items machined from billet puts about 90% of the Al’ stock into the scraps bin.

        Production automation ( “robots” ) isn’t really dependent on what materials are handled. But “VW Halle 55” experience shew the limitations of automation excesses. You have to find a good balance.

        • Uwe, even if you assume an average of 75% waste in aluminum, the difference in raw materials is still the factor 10.

          And besides the cost of manufacturing (labor, machine time,…) there is also significantly higher tooling cost and the cost for an autoclave for example.

          But of course neither a wing nor a fuselage is only rib, spar, string and sheet, but you have all the systems which cost the same. I have no figures, but I would estimate that a CFRP wing or fuselage compared to one made from aluminum is easily twice the production cost, could be factor 3-4.

          Back to the oval fuselage of the possible 797: As the floor beam will be significantly below the center line, there will be significant forces on the structure. I doubt that the fatigue strength of aluminum is good enough for such a design, so the fuselage would simply become too heavy. That why we need CFRP here, and that means the 797 can’t be made at cost anywhere near an aluminum plane.

          • And the other difficulty is that the Airlines are wanting to pay aluminium plane prices for it.

  11. All this talk of an a322 how would it be different from a 753? Long and skinny aircraft have been tried and while interesting, they have boarding and deplaning limitations, low revenue potential and likely higher structural weight. The a321 is a 240 seat aircraft in high density only, most carriers are under 200. Seems to me it would be an unsuccessful response. Even if it wasn’t it would ensure airbus was stuck with the a320 fuselage allowing Boeing to pivot to a new narrow body.

    • The A322 has been wanted for many years but mainly lack a new Engine as the 33k A321 Engines are max’ed out to get optimal MTOW. When a new 37-42k Engine is available of similar cost to the LEAP or PW1100G then Airbus will move with a new wing and wingbox. P&W has promisied a 35k PW1135G but might not be enough to launch the A322neo. The market moves up just se the split between A319/A320 and A321 sales over the last 20 years, so there is a market for a 5-10 rows bigger A321.

  12. The two big briar patch questions are, does it need folding wingtips to fit in a 36m gate, and does it need geared engines? For those two, more time works to Boeing’s advantage, although I personally think a category D wing and CFM leap architecture engines will be fine to start with.

    • It does have to fit in the gate, win design will be driven by what they can do and simple. Folding only if needed.

      I think the big issue is the engine and a CFM will not cut it. Its not got architectural upside, been stretched as far as it can go. More exotic materials means more cost.

      P&W should have the inside track though they could partner with GE (GP does nicely from all takes)

      It would be a nice blend, GE with the higher tech but not super cost core (Leap maybe) than PW and PW with the rest.

      Without the GTF you are limited to more and more exotic and that is the realm of wide body long distance payback.

  13. >What I want to say is that we are in a very competitive duopoly, which is great for our customers

    This strikes me as uncomfortably close to anti-competitive signalling. “Hey Boeing we won’t give you grief with a 322 if you don’t do a 797. Lets both just keep milking our customers with our current products.”

  14. Think AB is waiting for the RR Ultrafan before it makes a move in the MoM market.

    The A350 fuselage could be the base for such an aircraft. Hypothetically, new centre section, CAT-D wing, 260-280 pax, 5000-6000Nm, 60Klb UF’s, etc. EIS around 2028, no clue about costs, $5-8 Billion?

    This will fit in nicely between an 321XLR and A359, the 339 will remain as a niche aircraft for airlines replacing A332/333’s and want to stay with the type.

    • Anton, the Ultrafan is already scheduled for a A350NEO, but certainly not for a smaller version. They are looking more into growth, efficiency and range, especially as the A380 is phased out.

      MoM from Airbus? Not if you understand that as a twin aisle. I expect that the A320 successor will still be 3+3 narrow body, maybe slightly larger diameter fuselage and certainly a somewhat larger wing and landing gear. It will grow a bit in every direction and in range and payload, with the A220 nicely covering the lower end.

      • At some point AB will have to address the TA 230-280 seat market with a new generation aircraft. The 330NEO’s I see as bridge aircraft and AB doen’t want to impact sales by saying there is something in the pipeline?

        Guess it’s a matter of timing, engines, etc. A330 deliveries peaked between 2008 and 2015, taking aircraft life as 20 years ~750 A332/3’s will need replacement between 2028 and 2035. So EIS of “something new” by 2028 could hit the sweet spot.

      • Saw that AB apparently increased the MTOW of the A220’s, no reference to how much. Is this the start of the A220-500 process?

        There will always be place for the A320 due to the LD3-45 “niche”. With a potential upgraded wing for the 321XLR will AB consider an A320+ (A325) with this wing, ~15-20 seats more than the current 320?

  15. There’s a market gap between A321neo and B788 /A332/A338.
    Least one is basically non existent, as A339 economics are so much better. I don’t see it taking off and generating sales.
    Same is for the B788, with the B789 beeing just a overall better plane.

    Still, I belive this gap is naturally with physics and configs used today.
    You either have a widebody, then you need at least an aisle like A330 – fit’s 2x LD3, and seats 2-4-2.
    A 2-3-2 config as in the B767 is just not competetive against a single aisle, you have to fly a lot of plane around for just one more seat per row.

    Also, range wise, you had the A300/310 sitting in this small widebody market, 250 pax on 6-8h missions. The B767 did take over, with the -300er beeing a really good fit for many airlines, but then was kicked out by the A330 with newer tech, which lead to the B787 and A330neo.
    Those are now really long range airplanes, but the question is how much more efficient could a NMA be compared to these on shorter routes and are airlines willing to buy another plane for these mid range routes?

    Also, I don’t see any tech advantage coming with NMA. There’s no engine available, there’s no fuselage, there’s no wing.
    The tech of the engine (and most of the planes’ tech) will be the same as B787, A330neo and A350.
    How will that be better?
    Especially when you always face an A321neo LR with a geared fan?

    If Boeing goes for it, they must have something to really push for, as I can’t see how they get the operating cost on SA level.
    The idea of an ovoid fuselage sounds better than it is, load peaks will either demand a strong (and heavy) structure or a new material.

    I don’t see where Boeing will gain. And then there’s the question why Airbus did outgrow the A330 (neo) range wise and went from the A300 niche.

    • MoM Engine, GE could almost reuse the GEnX-2B Engine core and have Safran/Snecma pay for a new LP system. It would be cost effective, Quick and pretty reliable for a 50k Engine. PWA might have a bigger fan Engine and heavier Engine for 50k thrust but Boeing might remember the issues they had to live thru on the JT9D, PW2000 and PW4000 and listened to the Airbus experience on the PW6000 and PW1100G, P&W eventually solves the problems with a torrent of “fixes”, hence the odds point to a “Quick & dirty CFMI Engine” with French goverment Money pumped into it without much US complaints and France trying to quiet German complaints of the subsidies.

      • Sash: P&W has a GTF design ready to go, they have been working on it for quite some time.

        If Boeing goes with CFM they have shot themselves in the foot.

    • The next step is a medium duty — MD — TA to put some of the HD TA’s out of a job.

      Ball park numbers — 90T OEW / 180T MTOW for a 62.5M / 8W fuselage and a nominal 6K NM range. Pretty big ask given current performance figures but then again the A330 NEO is HD to its core and the B787 – 8 MK1 is a dog.

      And then there is the engine dimension to the issue — 60K lbs thrust design.
      The A350 NEO ultrafan looks to be a bit big boned for this gig.

  16. I was wondering why the FED doesn’t give Boeing 20 billion for developing NMA. They have printed trillions. 20 billion is like mosquito bite for them

  17. Some years ago Aibus came up with the idea of A330 R (for regional) … model below 200T for short haul and requiring NO investments …
    Boeing 747 D (for domestic ) was used on routes like Narita/Osaka …

    some one can explain why this concept is completely forgotten today ???

    • because it is stupid.

      it is a “paper derate” which does nothing for the cost structure other than reduce landing and flyover fees. CASM is the same, fuel burn is the same, weight is the same, manufacturing cost is the same, purchase price is only marginally lower with the “opportunity” to pay later for the “paper uprate” to unlock the full capabilities of the airframe.

      • We used to ‘reduce the weight’ of A330-200 from MTOW 230T down to 205T for ops from the UK to the Middle East. The immediate cost saving was landing and nav charges which were based on MTOW.

        It would have been an easy matter to return it to its original MTOW and fly it over 6000nm.

        But I don’t think this is what Admiral Prune was referring to. If the OEM were to REALLY reduce the weight then they REALLY could;
        – Slightly shorter fuselage
        – Smaller engines, perhaps at higher bypass ratio
        – Shorter gear (no MLG strut shortening mechanism)
        – Less metal in the wings since there’d be less bending moment
        – No centre fuel tank
        – Smaller vertical stabilizer
        – etc

        I’m guessing the reason they didn’t do it is that all the above isn’t enough, just as it probably isn’t for the NMA. You still end up with too much aeroplane and weight and cost and development funding for too little result.

        • yes, Airbus looked at it and decided the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. probably $3-4B in engineering & cert work to create a less capable (but lighter) derivative for a relatively small number of additional sales vs the baseline A330. the Paper Derate A330R concept was basically free for Airbus (just put different numbers in some forms and tweak the FADEC and Fuel system thresholds)..

          as you can see, that didn’t exactly sell like hotcakes.

          • Actually its not forgotten, its used in China (and Japan uses versions of the 787 for that now instead of 767s and 747s)

            You still have an oversized air frame for the mission that does not need the range.

            Its also limited to very specific markets, Japan and its odd Island situation and China with the lack of Air Routes (restricted by the government for their own military use)

            You also have China big into high speed rail that is better than an airline flight.

  18. The B767 first came on the scene in about 1981. It is almost 40 years since and they are still manufacturing it. Major carriers are indicating they will order its replacement (the 797) in rather substantial numbers. The leadership vacuum in the American aerospace industry has traded their slide rules in for stock options. They are probably figuring how they can make the 797 and still use the 767’s simulator. When they figure that out, they’ll slap it together.

    • From a passenger perspective I would love to have a 2-3-2 configuration again. Just hate the 3-3-3 or 3-4-3 available on 787 and 777.

  19. There is a huge gap in the market — the only issue outstanding is the best way to fill it.

    At the lower bound we have the A321 @ 50T OEW / 97T MTOW / 4K NM nominal range — with a notional 4 class capacity of 165 approx.

    The upper bound is provided by the B787 – 8 @ 119T OEW / 228T MTOW / 7K NM plus nominal range and ridiculous tankage — with a notional 4 class capacity of 230/240 at a guess based on 9W crush-a-pleb economy seating up the back.

    The big issue is that if you want to fly 4,100 NM nominal you have to finance at least 120T of TA lard bucket or 125T if you want to go EU. The issue is range and not capacity. The A321 or in time the mythical A322 will cover most of the bases regarding capacity leaving only scraps for a brand new NMA / MoM’ster aeroplane.

    Range is the issue — with the A321 XLR making big strides to get the SA architecture out past 4.5K NM nominal range putting 5K NM nominal in its sights using the current A321 component set and limited investment.

    Next step would be the big wing A323 taking the MTOW out to 110T with NG engines and a new wing box / wing using more exotic materials to deliver an increase in both payload and range for very limited increase in fuel consumption.

    If done correctly the new A323 could trade a weight reduction in the wingbox / wings for an extra 5M of fuselage and a bigger main engine fan.

    Finally if the engine fairly comes up with the goods then there is always the A326 / Super Duper Sixty that provides the required NMA level of real estate but with a SA architecture / component set and more importantly cost base and volume.

    Plug numbers suggest that 65T OEW / 135T MTOW and 5K NM nominal range for 210 seats in a 4 class layout would be a good place to start using engine tech that the NMA would throw up — 45K lbs thrust — if it went ahead.

    Next comes the beans — development cost / investment:

    A321 / XLR = £800mill.
    A323 / Big Wing = £3bill.
    A326 / Super Duper Sixty = £5bill standalone.


    B797 / MoM’ster = £10bill at the very least.

    The NMA is dog — and that dog don’t hunt — of Tesla proportions.

    • If it only costs 3B for “a new wing box / wing using more exotic materials”, I believe they would have done this for the 737.

      I’m guessing a new wing box/wing is in the 10B range.

      Also, is it now a serious debate as to whether the 737/A320 replacement will have a metal wing since CFRP is so expensive to produce?

      • What I call loading the dice on the numbers.

        165 passengers in 4 class?

        Who does 4 class.

        How about real world operations of 767 as a good baseline as the A300 is long gone in PAX service.

        Delta runs their 767s at 208 to 246. You can slice it as 2 or 3 class depending on how you assess cattle class with more leg room

        • 4 class @ 10 hour flights = First Class / Lie flat business / Premium Economy / Economy — “Glesga” to the world or at least big parts of it.

          A321 real estate / floor area = 204 / 210 standard seats @ 32″ pitch and 18″ wide.

          Q+D analysis points to 160 / 170 seats with B door loading if you really want to be fancy.

          Route economics = A321 needs a lot fewer passengers to make it work when compared to a B767 of yore or a B797 MoM’ster of BA’s imagination.

          More B city point to point as in the B787 sizzle done properly.

      • One of the problems is it’d no longer be a 737 with that wing. Another problem is it would lengthen the project by years, affecting sale.

    • A323 Big Wing:

      New exotic wingbox family — starting with a 110T variant.
      Would not see that as being that big a deal.

      New exotic wing family — again staring with a 110T variant at 42M span.
      Get Belfast involved and use their experience should make it a pretty efficient design process.

      My figures are £3bill / $5bill for them both.
      $10bill is DoD / USAF economics.

      Building new capability is a better business case than saving weight on an existing product — I think this would have loomed large in any B737 project given the thinner margins when you are in the SA product space with a less capable aeroplane. BA has to be low cost to make its numbers.

      • Once you go that far then an all new aircraft with real structural improvements in aerodynamics (TBW or some such)

        That was Boeing Dilema on the 737, too much into it and do all new and they aren’t ready to do that (the engine are there but the new form to make a real leap is not or confirmed yet)

        And it has to work in with the new direction in mfg approach. The 737 (nor the A320) can do that.

        You can nibble around the edges but you won’t get a game changing improvement until its all aligned

      • I’m setting a design limit on single aisles at 50m long. I’m partial to the twin aisle solution for anything bigger than a 738, but, I won’t deny that the first manufacturer to build a 120t, 42m wing, 50m long new single aisle will sell a lot of airplanes.

        • If you are partial to twin aisle beyond 738 size cabins, why not opt for H21QR or better H22QR with 1+2+1 in Premium/1+3+1 in Y-class and E+ ? First come. first served … (FYI : I’m designating the A321 or sequel A322 in the twin aisle quick rotation cabin alternative). Piece of cake !

          • @TransWorld : The ‘Piece of Cake’ qualification comes from Adam Pilarski, CEO of Avitas, that’s good enough for me, no need to be more royalist than the King !

  20. The RR Ultrafan angle on this is interesting. RR can do it by 2027-8. That I think is now the true timescale for the NMA. But it would also be the true timescale for a 322XLR, which most agree will be Airbus’ response to a Boeing NMA launch.

    Airbus definitely want RR to succeed with Ultrafan. Options are opening up for RR and Ultrafan.

    I don’t think Airbus are scared of the NMA. The reason they keep talking about it is they keep being asked what their response will be. Not unexpectedly they say they have it covered, be we all know Airbus are planning an A320 replacement, a replacement that will upgauge to 180-240 seats. Will they go part way with a 322XLR to head off the NMA.

    • I think at this stage Airbus is looking at an A322NEO, but with the same wing / wingbox as A321XLR. EIS in about 4 years. With unbeatable costs and commonality. Trading range for payload.

        • Is the fly at the elevator a feature for long distance economy? 🙂

          • Airbus’ MCAS. The fly knows when to kick down.

          • Philip:

            Airbus does not have to say anything about the NMA and its prospects in their “response”

            All they have to do is talk about their own product. We are bringing XXX to market in xxxx.

            As they conflate the two its clear

            1. Their response is driven by the NMA
            2. They FEAR the NMA

      • The problem is there is nothing left in the wing. The wing isn’t really big enough for the A321, never mind a stretch of the A321. That’s why the NMA has a chance, albeit a small one. If Airbus replace the wing, game over for the NMA

        • New wing, different engines, too long, too wide.

          Might as well do NMA

          • I accept it can be done. But, I want to know whether they have had to raise the cruise AoA to get the lift. In other words will they be trading drag for lift.

          • PS

            These new winglets appear to be very, very good. Airbus raised the MTOW of the A330neo from 242 to 251 tonnes and produced a near linear increase in range. That means the lift is there at optimal AoA. The same happened when the A350 went from a MTOW of 308 to 316 tonnes.

            So lets see. Either way, we all agree Airbus will respond to a NMA launch

          • Paris airshow will be done in 4 weeks from now, by then we will hopefully know more.

    • All speculation but I can see an A321XLR and 322 happen.

      The 322XLR (“323”) could basically be an NSA with Al-Li fuselage, A220 type nose/cock-pit, new (folding) wing (40-44m?), larger fanned PW-GTF’s (or UF’s?), etc. This however will require a major investment but it could serve as basis for new smaller versions (320/1) and compete head on with the smaller of the NMA’s?

  21. The ‘plus,plus’ or A323.So you double (over) stretch the fuse,a new wing set and box section,new engines (50klbs that don’t exist and won’t till/if the MOM is made) a new MLG of course.What have you made? An inferior 797 or ( being charitable) some sort of 757-300 LR.Hardly attractive when you have more or less rebuilt an old aircraft.
    Far more likely ( certain in fact) is the ‘plus’ or the A322 as Keesje has discussed.’Simply’ trading range for a smaller increase in capacity ( the existing a321lr exits can be certified for 250 pax according to Airbus).I personally doubt it could do 3,700 Nm perhaps more like 3,200Nm.But that’s plenty for trans continental work. It would squeeze the MOM into an even smaller box.
    Why don’t they do it now? Because they don’t need to,they would only be stealing sales from themselves.

    • Exactly, AB have no need to do anything yet. They can wait, and see what BA do with the 797, then they know exactly which response to give.

      Better to let BA commit to a program that will delay them from starting work on a NSA, let BA sink money, and time into it, and then take a good sized chunk out of the market.

      AB in the meantime get on with their NSA, which I think will be Al-Li body (30%), and carbon wings, merge of A220, and A350 cockpit / FBW, perhaps back driven throttles, and active side sticks. Possibly folding (down) wing tips.

      If I was AB, my NSA would start with a version just larger than A321, and work down to just above an A220-500 which I would be targeting to start taking over from the A320NEO just before my NSA entered service.

  22. I personally don’t see any A225 slowly pushing out A320 from the market. The C Series’ heritage is doomed to remain that of a ‘Regional Jet’ (RJ), whereas the A320 belongs to the full-blooded ‘Feeder’ brand. Airbus cannot change the DNA of the A22X Series, unfortunately. Really, the handling by Airbus Group of A22X operations (marketing, sales, after sales support…) ought to be passed on to their ATR division, alongside with the turboprops, as the upper end offer of that division. The divider genome separating a Feeder from a RJ resides in the container CLS of the former vs the retrograde bulk holds of the latter. In that sense, the 73X Series (including MAX Series) appears as the last evolutionary link before modern era Feeders (A32x, C919. MC-21…) and as such, soon extinct. This essential distinction will extend the useful life of A320 vs any hypothetic A225…

  23. Delta receives first A339, actually looks good. Think it will serve them well and passengers will enjoy the 2-4-2 (18″) economy seats.

  24. 150-160 seats is still the heart of the NB market. Having 2 significantly different aircraft there doesn’t hurt.

    • @keesje : yes, fully agreed … at the Group level. But the sales pitches collide on certain details, the Salesman’s Job must defer to the old saying ‘aircraft are not sold, they are purchased’, or you are constantly shooting yourself in the foot.

      Better separate A22X sakes from A32X sales. That creates emulation stimulus between ATR sales vs Airbus sales : eg, an ATR salesman having landed three C series contracts is ripe for promotion over to glamour Airbus sales etc …

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