United orders 50 A321XLRs

Dec. 3, 2019, © Leeham News: United Airlines today announced an order for 50 Airbus A321XLRs.

The airplane has an advertised range of 4,700nm (5,400 statute miles), or a nine hour flight.

Airbus A321XLR in United Airlines “swoop” colors. Source: Airbus.

UAL will replace its aging Boeing 757s on a one-for-one basis beginning in 2024.

The XLR’s targeted entry into service is 2023.

Defers A350, again

Simultaneously, United deferred its order for the Airbus A350 XWB to 2027. UA repeatedly deferred delivery of the wide-body aircraft, which was ordered in 2009. First delivery was originally scheduled for 2013. There are 14 years from the original delivery date to the new one.

Officials at United are prone to favor Boeing, especially for wide-bodies, over Airbus.

The A350-900 has slightly less capacity but more range than the Boeing 787-10. United is a 787-10 customer.

The A350-1000 has about the same capacity more slightly more range than the Boeing 777-300ER. United is a “bridge” purchaser of the -300ER at a steeply discounted price. United helps Boeing bridge the production between the 777 Classic and the 777X.

United has 45 A350-900s on order.

Original Airbus order

The XLR order is the first time United turned to Airbus for single-aisle airplanes since its original order in 1992-1993 for A319s and A320s.

Boeing offered the 737-300 and -400, confident that the long-time Boeing customer would not order from Airbus. United asked Boeing to reopen its 737-300 contract and renegotiate the price for the -400, something Boeing refused to do.

Airbus, whose sales force at the time was led by John Leahy, was hungry for the business. By the time Boeing recognized United was prepared to give the deal to Airbus, it was too late.

It was the loss of this order that convinced Boeing to upgrade the 737 into the Next Generation airplane.

Cloud over NMA

The A321XLR serves the lower end of the so-called Middle of the Market, the sector for which Boeing conceived the New Midmarket Airplane (NMA). The XLR carries fewer passengers than the NMA and has slightly less range than promoted for the smaller, 220-passenger NMA-6 (5,000nm).

But an analysis by LNA suggests the A321LR/XLR is complementary to the prospective NMA rather than directly competitive.

Still, replacing United’s 757s with the XLR removes these 50 airplanes from a potential NMA sale. This further stresses the already difficult business case for the NMA.

161 Comments on “United orders 50 A321XLRs

    • I don’t think United had a choice. The B757-200 would be reaching retirement by 2025 I would imagine and the replacements Boeing could offer would be the B737 MAX 7 which is 60% of the size of the B757-200. There was talk of a Proposed 737-8ERX with a 4000NM range using the heavier components of the B737-9 to create an aircraft with more fuel and MTOW. Transatlantic B757-200 tend to operate at 169 passengers. With the same amount of passengers (happens to be TAP Portugal set up) the range of the A321XLR with realistic allowances for headwinds, luggage, diversion and hold as well as reserves give a range of about 4200NM. Aer Lingus I think will be carrying 182 passengers in 2 class layout but they are a little closer to the USA.

  1. This order raises eyebrows! I’m certain this order is another nail in the coffin of the NMA and Boeing have no alternative but to put it back on the shelve for the next decade. They don’t have the luxury of making up ground with the NMA like they did with the 737 vs A320 battle. Time to concentrate on a new replacement of the 737 and convince existing customers to switch their orders from the 737 to the new aircraft.

    • Don’t want to be switching from a profitable plane like the 737 to a new single aisle replacement which won’t be cash flow positive till say 1000 units built. Same issue with MOM , although they will limit switches down from 787 by restricting the range, but still have issues with switch ups from the 737-10.
      Engineering and production wise Boeing can make it happen, but cash flow will be wrecked.
      Compared with GE , who with their GE9X have refreshed their entire range with new product from the replacement for the CF34 thrust class Passport (based on the Leap) , through 2 Leap versions and the GEnx. For a new MOM GE can easily create a largely new engine from the thrust classes above and below.

      • I agree, but Boeing has to design a civil Aircraft to be built by robots sooner or later. Hence a 727/757/767 replacement slightly above A321neo+ payload/range can be a good start killing the A322 Project in time. Selling between 1000-2000ea with time allocated to iron out productivity issues and then be ready for the NSA design work where major hickups in certification/service would be disasterous on a 5000-10 000 planned production run.

        • The XLR could cover modest range thinner routes to ~4500Nm with ~200pax. Medium to longer haul (5000Nm-7000Nm) medium density routes are serviced by the 787’s and 330N’s (to some extent) .

          For me the MoM is 1000-5000Nm range with ~275 typical seating that can carry cargo/freight with quick on the ground turn around times. So is there an MoM/NMA market or will it stay a compromise between longer range SA’s and multi-purpose TA’s.

          The Boeing NMA/797 is still a good concept, but it must be 8 abreast, carry cargo, and have seating in two frames for typical layout of 250 & 300 seats by the time it comes into production, and 20+% more efficient engines? Looks like a never ending circle.

          • Duke:

            The Cash flow target is when the aircraft returns more than it cost to makes.

            Its not 1000. 787 crossed over at 400?

            Retiring of the investment is a different target.

            Airbus said the A380 was a bit cash positive for a bit until they had to slow the build rate. That would have been around 120 or so.

          • I also come to the conclusion of a 275-300pax 797, this has to be a widebody. Nobody has designed a really light weight widebody with very durable engines staying on wing for +10 000 cycles. So we are looking at a 4000nm carbon wing Al-Li widebody designed to be built by robots featuring most of the boxes and components of the 787 that cannot be sourced cheaper. It can have high wings to be able to fit new engines as they become available to get more range of the aircraft and short cost effective landing gears. An OEW of +100 000lb at least 40 000lbs lighter than a 767-300. 45k engines with a 45-50:1 pressure ration and a bypass of min 15:1. I wonder what Bjorns aircraft and engine sizing software will converge into.
            A comparison with A321XLR would be obvious.

          • “” It can have high wings to be able to fit new engines and short cost effective landing gears. “”


          • “” I also come to the conclusion of a 275-300pax 797, this has to be a widebody. “”

            A322 might have 270 pax,
            A323 could have 300 pax (757-300 replacement),
            no chance to be beaten by a widebody.

          • Mate, you description hit’s the A300 or the A330.
            The A330 is a 8 abreast 275 typical seat airplane.

          • @Leon, Turboprops and Ultra high bypass Engines seems to converge towards 12 blades, just look at fan blade numbers going from CFM56-5 to -7, to LEAP similar for GE90 to GE9X, PWA is on the same track if you look at JT8D to V2500 to PW1100G. Military airlifters usually come as high wing Aircrafts both turboprop and Jet mainly for ground clearance. I would not be surprised to see an 140″ UDF with 7+5 blades one day.

          • Sash,

            I love the A330-900, 8-abreast is such a pleasure, but many airlines are greedy. Maybe the Lower Deck Sleeping Modules which come in 2020 can give the A330 more attention. That’s an advantage over A321+.

        • The FSA/NSA is going to be exciting, where should Boeing starts, shrinks are never optimal. 100-150 (A220-1/3), 150-200 (A225/A320+), 200-250 (A321/XLR/322).

          New CFRP wing for 320+ and 322 with updated engines could make the AB SA line up very competitive, and then the price.

      • “Don’t want to be switching from a profitable plane like the 737 to a new single aisle replacement which won’t be cash flow positive till say 1000 units built.”

        Like the MAX?

        BA was hinting at a 767 with new wings/engines as a bridge to the NMA…

        Wonder if this will push them over the edge?

    • Game changing materials and processes are not ready (along with new engine) Airbus waiting to around 2030 for A320 replacement, need development in additive mfg (need standards and new supply chain), large thermoplastic composite airframe/wing structures and robotization to mature to lower production costs. So what will Boeing offer, CFRP wing and metallic (drill and fill) fuselage…what its the same technology as A220, no game changer there!

      • It can be a productivity game changer with 90% robotic build. I agree that it will be a CFRP wing and tail section but an AlLi fuselage (just like the 777-9) Engines designed as a cross between GEnX and LEAP designs or with a larger PWA Geared fan option for the brave. Still Airbus has problems teaching robots to build the A320neo’s not designed to make it easy for robots to built her where a brand new Boeing MoM as a shrunk 777-9 narrowbody made for robots will sell for less than an A321 and made x3 as fast.

      • Boeing does not need a game changer, just a frame that is competitive to the A320 family.
        The 737NG and than the MAX run on quite a few exemptions from the rules, other frames like A320 have to adhere to.
        Just 2 examples, the 16 G floors holding the 16 G seats and EICAS, as the man machine interface in the 737 needs an exemption to be acceptable.
        Exemptions are nice, but running for 30 and 40 years, model after model?

        • Boeing does need a game changer.

          Airbus has them in a box with a very efficient A220 lineup that can go to 180 seats (replace the A320 as well).

          While the A321 is not perfect (nothing ever is) its was a good product and has done nothign but become higher and higher percentage wise of the line production.

          There is no design that will bridge both the A220 and the A321, its now a two design area.

          An A320 match means that Boeing is locked in to even in the A321 area and they are way behind (in the range of 4 -1)

          An A320 match means they are behind the A220 so they have to do better.

          They need a game changer and it looks like two different models (unless is a serious major frame change that allows competition thorough the range)

          As the MAX was able to keep up with the A320 efficiency wise, that tells you how hard to get an aerodynamic frame improvement.

          Even the A220 impro9vment is a lot in the engine.

          • A22o vs A319/737-7 – the A220 has several advantages – weight, more modern wing, smaller fuselage cross-section, smaller engines.

            the 737-7 and A319 win on range (until AB decides to do an A220LR), high/hot and belly capacity

          • Airbus really has to work on the A220 to make money, it risks being the MD-80 of the 2000’s with 2+3 seating, P&W engines not yet as dependable as promised, selling well but at a loss. The timing is maybe good to have hordes of Airbus engineers and its suppliers working thru all the parts and getting cost out and improve ease of manufacture. The A220-100 might be profitable as a biz jet or dedicated professional sports teams hauler.

          • Being reported that AB won’t ramp up A220 production until mid next next decade, they’re waiting for supplier contracts to expire so they can negociate workable prices

          • What was wrong with the MD-80? When you consider the MD-95 and MD-90, they must have sold about 1400. Not bad for one model in the line-up. Especially if the -500 is built for the “sweet spot” of the market…

  2. I remember the good old days when United and Continental were proud to have an All Boeing Aircraft Fleet.

    I can’t understand how airlines can dare to offer their passengers to cross the Pond on an Airbus A321XLR and spend up to nine hours on a derivative of a slow flying, narrow body jetliner designed about 40 years ago for one to two hours flight.

    • You realize it will primarily be replacing the 757, right? Last I checked, a NB. I love me some 757 (3:1 thrust:weight ratio!), but the A321 is unambiguously more comfortable.

      • Surely a 1:3 thrust to weight ratio? I’ve never seen a 757 do an EE Lightning straight up climb…

        • 1:3 thrust to weight ~= max thrust is one third of MTOW

          757-200 : 255 / ( 43.5 * 2) = 1 : 2.93
          A321NEO : 213 / ( 33.11 * 2) = 1 : 3.21
          ( numbers in klbs )

    • Why not? The seats are wider than in a 787, there will most likely be IFE and enough toilets that you can’t feel much difference.

      Yes, it’s a bit slower and during turbulences a bit shakier, but I don’t see this as a bit problem. The upper deck on a 747 is probably even smaller and nobody complained there about too little space.

    • I’ve flown on a few B757’s “across the pond”. Nothing wrong with it as long as the seats were comfortable.

      Score one for Airbus!

      • Yes. The seating blocks are the same for double or single aisle. Leg room and seat width aren’t magically better on a wide body….this insnt the golden age from the 80s up to 2010 anymore . Those comfortable seats are now called Economy plus and if you want real comfort lie flat business class beats all the rest.
        I went for about 5 hrs internationally in a domestic configured single aisle with no recline or seat back screen….oh dear. That was a mistake with a LCC
        And as always the rear of the plane gets to it’s destination at the same time as the front. The recent try out of roller coaster type ride didn’t last long.

          • I’ve flown in a Philippine Airlines A321neo equipped with an ACT on the 8 hour 3200NM flight frim Sydney to Manila. That aircraft was set up with 182 pax in two class. It was very comfortable, I appreciated the radical quietness of the PW1100G. I did miss that standing area near the emergency exist you have on a widebody to stretch legs a little but my horror flights have all been on B747 and B737NG due to seat width. A 8-10 hour flight is going to be ok. However what is going to happen is that all those A321neo flights that are set up for low density so that they can fly 2500-3200NM can now be crammed to full capacity on the A321XLR. You won’t see them transatlantic but I think some of the Asian LCC carriers will use the XLR for high density medium range flights. I can avoid those.

  3. If this gives United the ability fly routes at lower cost than with older/larger aircraft it will prompt a reaction from other airlines. And right now there is only one place to go for this class of aircraft.

  4. Choo choo… Can you hear the NMA train?

    Say good-bye, this one is gone. It’s remarkable that United places the order despite the punitive taxes that Airbus aircraft are now facing in the US.

    • Airbus can snap them together in Mobile AL, most likely there will be an additional FAL when they are done with the A220 FAL, just tell the Contractors to keep the Equipment, staff and Machines in Mobile and a new contract will be signed. The A321XLR will be heavier than a regular A321neo and burn some more fuel on the same routes, but when you fill ‘er up and decide to fly to Hawaii or South America from Chicago the profits rolls in.

  5. Sceptical me will not believe this order whatever papers have been signed until I see at least half of them delivered. Wasn’t it United that ordered the A350, first the -1000 then changed it to -900? At least unlike American they hadn’t bought the simulator, trained it’s pilots etc? Where are either of those airline’s planes? Still on the books. United are not serious about airbus and use it quite cynically to get Boeing planes at an even greater discount.
    Sure Airbus gets 50 planes on its books but will they join the other 45 -900s? I say yes. And on this occasion if I’m proved wrong I’ll happily kiss some United metal.

    • With UAL’s wide body fleet many variables to consider, think they could be interested in an B787-10ER? In the long term I can see a mixed fleet of ~50 x A350-900/1000’s to replace 777-200ER’s & -300ER’s, but it could be over a 10-20 year period. B787-8’s could replace most of the 767-300’s/400’s in the absence of an NMA/MoM.

      On the SA front can see them operating MAX8/9/10’s but also 321XLR’s and possibly 320NEO’s replacing A319’s and some of the 320CEO’s.

      But as Transworld would say, they are also kicking the ball down the run way many times?

    • Do tell what ‘magic’ planes will United be flying in 2024 when their 757s goes out of service if they don’t go Airbus. The A350 had a competitor which was already in service a head of it including for United….but think about a plane that could be 6 or 7 years away if the go ahead is given this year.
      There is still space for NMA-7 the large capacity version with maybe 200- 220 seats for United at a later time.

      • How is a $15 billion NMA built at the rate of, say, 10-15 units per month going to be competitive with a fully amortised A321XLR, that is going to be put together at assembly lines that are going to be turning out 70+ A320neo/A321neo per month?

        • Well that is what they said about the 787 vs the A330NEO and Boeing simply dropped the price.

          • That was a strategic case, not sure the price they got for those airframes was sustainable.

          • The A330-800 is a bad example.
            There is a reason why only few are sold,
            A330-900 is much much more interesting.

          • Well all the 787 cost are paid for now arn’t they?

            So Boeing can get 5% on it if they figure its worth it.

            Airbus can match but has been reluctant to.

          • It’s different for Boeing, most try to avoid them now, so Boeing needs to do something to at least keep their workforce busy.

          • Based on the Dubai Air Show results.
            This thread, UA bought 50 XLR.
            Based on how Boeing treated their MAX customers.
            Based on that it seems EASA is checking everything now, even the exit limit for MAX-8200.
            Based on that other regulators are even stricter than EASA.

    • The delay in UAL A350’s might be a requirement from Boeing to sell 777-300ER dirt cheap to UAL. They will fly them for 16-20 years and Boeing does not want them to fly especially the A350-1000 and compare it to the 777-300ER. UAL has alrady bought 100ea 737-10’s that is more optimized for shorter routes hence the A321XLR does not have a corresponding model from Boeing yet, making room for Airbus to spend its allocated money on Airbus without upsetting Boeing too much to loose its deep discounts. It DAL would pick up stored A350-1000’s quickly and compete on the same routes as UAL 777-300ER’s it would be an interesting fight.

      • Pushing back delivery to 2027 may mean that tariffs are gone. President Trump, whose cabinet is in charge of this and who is willing to fire shots across the bow warning of trade wars if he doesn’t get a better deal, may be in his 3rd term. Apparently if impeachment fails in the senate, which it seems likely it will just on party lines, a President gets to run a 3rd term. Id say the tariff landscape would have changed by then irrespective of who is in office.

  6. I would argue that the only purpose all the talk about NMA ever had was to make airlines believe Boeing would actually have something in the pipeline to wait for, thus slowing the sales of Airbus on the XLR. To me, that is the whole story about NMA. It never made any sense and does less with every XLR Airbus is selling. Airlines should have gotten the memo by now.

  7. This is a clear sign that airlines believe the NMA is not to be seen for a long time. Will be interesting to see what DAL will do, they still do operate ~100x B757/s. Wonder if they will convert some of their 100 A321NEO options to XLR’s?

  8. EIS in 2023. I thought the backlog for the A320 family were much longer. Maybe they got slots before the other orders at the Dubai Air Show.

    What does this mean for the deposit UA paid for the A350-900. They can convert it to the XLR and the order is almost paid, right.

    The A321 is less than 3m shorter, would match the pax to replace the 757-200. But what is the philosophy behind it. Is UA prefering frequency of flights or do they have many destinations and the market doesn’t offer more than 200 pax? Why wouldn’t the A330-900 without center fuel tank be interesting? I think the XLR is not cheap.

    A better match to replace the 757 would be the A321LR, not XLR. So UA is interested in more range. Why not the 6000nm A330?

    • “What does this mean for the deposit UA paid for the A350-900. They can convert it to the XLR and the order is almost paid, right.”

      While it might be possible, it would still leave the issue of how does United compensate RR for the loss of 90 Trent XWBs?

      • A story back in 2010 about the A350 order said that Uniteds financial filings said it ‘had a right to buy’ but not legally binding purchase orders for this plane. I cant see the engine order being any firmer than that either.

        Seems to work well still as a carrot for Boeing sales team , every time United look at widebody orders Boeing has to add incentives and treat the sale as ‘a conversion from Airbus’ rather than the lower incentives available if you are ‘topping up’ existing fleet. of Boeing types.

  9. They keep selling and selling. All they need to do is make them.

    It looks as though United are the launch customer for the A350neo

    • Yes, 2027 looks about right for an UltraFan-powered A350neo.

      However, United Airlines should IMHO rather ask for a 7,500 – 8,000 nm capable, 11-frame stretched*, 280 metric tonnes MTOW version of an A359neo (A350-800Mk2), since an A359neo is going to be the ULR default model — not really suiting the needs of United Airlines.

      * same length as the current A350-1000

      • Airbus doesn’t have to keep to the 84klbs thrust on the A350 neo. They can very much reduced it to 77klbs of thrust and it’ll give even the B787-10 mk2 a run for its money.
        For the 280metric tonne A350-1000neo, it might still fall short of the sweet spot. A 300T MTOW with ard 88klbs of thrust will probably give around 7500nm of range, probably appeal to more airlines.

        • Good point.

          One could also envision Airbus re-engineering the wing, outboard of the engines. By increasing in-flight wing span to around 75 metres — including 2 x 5.15 long folding wingtips — the aspect ratio of the more slender, re-designed wing, would increase by some 25 percent and decreasing induced drag by about the same amount; leading to a fuel burn reduction of up to 10 percent.

          Of course, reducing induced drag lowers the required thrust levels at take-off, as well.

          • Yes, the present A350-1000 wing is a modified A350-900 wing and with an A350neo the A350-1000neo can gets its own optimal slender morphing wing with active flutter Control. The question is if this wing will be common to the A350-900neo as well or if an A350-900neo stretch with the same MTOW will come using the A350-1000neo fuselage? GE might want to provide an Engine for these “low thrust A350neo’s” leaving RR alone on the “high thrust A350’s” that will only be one model.

        • 77W’s are very often used for missions of <4000Nm, AB could potentially come up with a very efficient 35K-"Lite" that could replace a large % of 77W's in future. Fairly similar to what you describe above;

          It could potentially use the lighter 359 wing but still the 35K six wheel bogies, effective range of 6500-7000Nm. Ultrafans with 85-90 Klb thrust could possibly work for an MTOW somewhere between 280 and 300T. High temperatures in the ME does impact thrust requirements.

        • I agree with your thrust reduction comments. If we look at the A359 for JAL, the MTOW has been reduced to 217 tons, though they have not disclosed the engine derating – but I’m sure that has been done too.

    • Good call. UA is the US carrier that is most interested in ultra long haul flights…think of SIN from SFO. A A350neo would have enough range for EWR to SYD and MEL, LAX to SIN and so on. In 2027 RR will be ready with their Ultra.

  10. United has had amazing patience with Boeing over the years. Fist the 737-9, converting to -10, boosting NMA, pushing even new 767s. They warned Boeing so many times. But as said many times here and elsewhere, at some point even UA calls it a day and otders the capacity it needs.

  11. The question is less now about who is ordering the XLR as to who isn’t!
    United have ordered it ( in quantity) because there is simply no alternative to what this ‘MOM’ aircraft can do and nothing on the horizon.
    It will be interesting to see over the next few years what innovative new routes airlines come up with for this unique aircaft.
    Other than Icelandic the majority of the 757 replacements have been made,the future will now be about new users and uses imho.

  12. “But an analysis by LNA suggests the A321LR/XLR is complementary to the prospective NMA rather than directly competitive.”

    The other way around I think, the NMA would be complementary to the A321XLR. But I have to use the conditional tense here, a paper aeroplane cannot be competitive or complementary to a real one.

    I think this will just be the start for the A321XLR, ten years of sunshine in Toulouse.

    And who’s afraid of long range narrowbody, really? Comet, 707, DC8, VC10, Ilyushin 62, 757 – all narrowbodies and very capable. A modern narrowbody will be quieter and smoother with features like gust load alleviation. It could also mean access to Europe/North America from your local airport, not a hub.

  13. IMHO jbeeko is correct.

    Delivery slots for the A321XLR are filling up, who will be next, American already have 50 XLRs on order.

    Delta have more 757s than United, and American combined, and may be forced to swap some of their A321 orders for the LR, or XLR version in order to compete.

    Will Icelandair order the A321LR to replace it’s 757s ?

    It must have been clear to airlines for some time now that the NMA isn’t going to arrive in time to replace most 757s, and some 767s

  14. Remember FAL cost is marginal to total cost of A/C thet is +/- 10%

    this means that robots (expensive equipment + lengthy and costly comissionning) are not IMHO a priority needed equipment
    To get total cost down is from supplier’s who can enjoy large volumes

    • I’ve always wondered what % of total 737 cost the empty shell shipped by Spirit is. Even assuming, and it’s a big assumption, that robots could cut the cost in half would that really move the needle much on total aircraft cost?

      Bjorn did an analysis of the weight savings available to a SA by switching to other materials. It is less than might first be suspected. The same may be true for using robots to assemble the fuselage shells.

      • Biggest return is in wing shape.

        More return for a wide body in going composites.

        The big payout is a better air frame setup that is more efficient.

        TBW with Sugar High and Sugar Low and the braced center aisle (Boeing bought out the company with that concept though they had drone assets as well) are a couple of them floating out there.

      • Need to produce the frame yourself, not let others earn from it.

        Robots speed everything up with quality, that’s where you earn, if you can produce 3 instead of 1.

        It is said that 5t more weight on the A330 takes only 3% more fuel. So what is better, a heavy but very cheap frame or a light but very expensive frame. A cheap frame might be better, need to wait till carbon is cheap and carbon frames can be built fast.

  15. Airbus confirms huge market with derivative sub optimal product and leaves a large gap to its next sub optimal product and Boeings replacements for the 757 and 767 are dead?

    • @Grubbie

      That sub optimal product will have a range of 4,700nm, with some 30 percent lower fuel consumption per seat compared with the 757-200.

      Also, the sub optimal product will be fully amortised and is going to be put together at assembly lines that are going to be turning out 70+ A320neo/A321neo per month, while Boeing’s $20 billion 737/757 replacement will likely not EIS before 2030, at the earliest.

      • In many ways the 757 was sub optimal.

        Heavy and big engines, but it did the job at the time (lower fuel prices)

        Perfect is yet to be done.

      • I am still interested in seeing what happens with the 767 NEO.

        It has a base of freighter and tanker orders (tankers will not NEO)

        But the KC-46 does have a 787 cockpit.

        I think there is a lot more possible there than Leeham does with new engine and a clean up.

        Certainly could be wrong but its a partial answer while Boeing deal with the SA issue.

        • Same cockpit yes but AFAIK 767 is not FWB !! so same cockpit is just meaningless

          • No, its not meaninglessness.

            It brings it into the modern cockpit vs the old overhead and tons of switches.

            It also ties in with modern specification so its not an add in to meet the current requirement for coms and navigation.

            Boeing felt it was needed for the KC-46 as it will fly for 50 years and needs to be current and up-datable.

            Cost is done and the NEO would switch to that for the same reasons.

  16. I think Delta have already covered their bases RE A321 XLR. It’s been clear for some time some of the 180 757/767 are relatively young and can fly on for years. But their number is low & shrinking. So they have to be replaced before any NMA can show up. Delta told everybody they very much wanted to buy Boeing, if only from a good dual source, buying power strategy. Now they are sitting on 150 early 321NEO slots with 100 in the fleet. A good place to be.

    • Agreed.

      BA strategy to have feet in both camps.

      Delta also tends to keep older aircraft longer so may well elect to see which way the plane design goes before making a decision.

  17. I believe Scott commented in the last NMA thread that if Boeing did not announce either the NMA or a similar large-scale project they might as well put the McDonnell-Douglas signs back over the door and start inventorying the machine tools and office furniture for the used equipment dealer. That comment is looking prophetic…

    • Develop, or die.

      Boeing are developing – the 777X – though that now seems to have been an unwise choice. If that fails I don’t know if there’s anything they can salvage and put into a different program, recoup costs that way. Airbus kinda did this with A380 –> A350.

      “Develop or Die” also applies to Airbus. Just at the moment they’ve got a very good team for turning paper designs / tech demos into certifiable airliners. They’ve got excellent revenue streams. They can afford to develop a whole new aircraft almost on a whim, partly just to keep the team together and partly because airlines will want it regardless; their pilots can already fly it.

      Arguably, we’ve already seen a bit of this. A330 has been a cash cow; now they’ve got the A330neo and A350 to tempt customers with. They’ve got the A321neo, why not have a new CF single aisle on the books too? Who cares if it robs A320neo of orders?

      Incidentally I think that Boeing need to forget the NMA, and do a proper MAX replacement as a matter of urgency. It’s possibly more important than getting the 777X into the sky. Every day that Boeing don’t launch a replacement for the MAX is another day for airline execs to think, “I wish we’d bought A320neos”, irrespective of whether or not the MAX is back flying.

      MAX / NG customers know now that this is the end of the line, they’re facing a big upgrade bill for pilot retraining next time round. The longer Boeing leave airlines wondering when that bill is coming, the more likely they’ll opt to take matters into their own hands and convert their fleets to Airbus. Especially if Airbus are touting a shiny new CF single aisle aircraft with Ultrafan GTF engines.

      Perhaps Boeing know this; Leeham News have reported that Boeing has been sounding out the market for a MAX replacement. If they launch it anytime soon, it’ll kill the MAX backlog stone dead. But better that than wring the backlog for all the cash they can get and then exit the market place altogether.

      • “” why not have a new CF single aisle on the books too? Who cares if it robs A320neo of orders? “”

        How about a turboprop?

        • The Airbus A400M “Atlas” has a MTOW of 141 tons with 4 x 4 × Europrop TP400-D6 turboprop, 8,200 kW (11,000 hp) each. Cruise speed is about Mach 0.8 781 km/h (485 mph, 422 kn) at 9,450 m (31,000 ft). Surely an 2engined A320 sized aircraft of MTOW 75 tons or more can be made out of this especially in consideration that the weight and drag costs of rear loading ramp and a very rough field undercarriage can be dispensed with. To me it looks like there is about a 25%-30% fuel burn advantage over the A320neo just going on relative weights, fuel capacities. One would expect advantages in initial climb and runway take-off length as well.

          • A good thought.

            It would be more likely if legislators barred the use of jets on very short-haul routes; say 250 miles and rising by 50 miles a year. This would make a demand for large turbo-props imperitive and rising, and would be a step forward for reducing carbon emissions.

            Also, turbo-prop aircraft will be first in line for NEO hybrid-electrical technologies when they become available (which they shall and must).

          • TP400 has a prop of 5.3m in diameter.
            Imagine two 5,3m props and in the middle a 3.95m fuselage.
            sexy …

  18. Boeing won’t solve this by sitting on their but. They need a new NSA upgauged to be 180-240 seats.

    The argument that game changing technology won’t be there until 2030 isn’t an argument. Boeing won’t be there if they wait. A half way house is better than nothing.

    So at least a carbon wing with two production sites to get the numbers. An Al-Li fuselage if a carbon one isn’t doable. This time leave enough room for the next generation very high bypass engines. But for now GE Leap and PW GTF with performance enhancements.

    And set a realistic date of 2027.

    Boeing have got to do something. They are rabbits frozen in the headlights if they think the MAX will do the business.

    As somebody else said, the A321 is sub-optimal. That means it is there for the taking.

    • “As somebody else said, the A321 is sub-optimal. That means it is there for the taking.”

      Well, sub-optimal is flying and selling like hot cakes.

      • True. Very, very, very true. Ergo Boeing should do something, anything, except nothing.

        • The A220 lurks at 180 seats though and how do you compete with what is now two offerings?

          A220 can only be done with a better airframe.

          Then the A321 is a bit heavy to drop down and compete.

      • Stleath66:

        Everything is sub optima. Engineering no matter what the filed is a compromise and aircraft are the toughest area.

        If it does the job and they can make money, then its a good bird.

    • But Boeings problem is Airbus can do another Neo on the A321, with carbon wings as well as new engines. That would lower operating costs and add range.

    • Mostly agree. I think starting with 180 seats is on the high site, Boeing can’t leave open 150 seats < 2 hrs, where 50% of the NB market is.

      The A321 is suboptimal. https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1369195 however over the last 2 years Airbus seems to have solved most of weak spots with the LR and XLR. The XLR being the more rigorous modification.

      Still for crossing the Atlantic nothing comes close in purchase costs, operating cost and MRO costs. And 100.000 pilots can fly it today. Leaving even the legacy's no options to buy it, even defensively, keeping open slots, frequencies, strategic routes, flying into new competitors hubs.

      • The A321XLR could conceivably be re-engined with a 35,000 lbf UltraFan engine.

    • A Boeing NSA launched now, would run the risk of being leapfrogged by a considerably more advanced A32Xneo replacement aircraft entering into service in the first half of the 2030s.

  19. I think the NMA is still on the way. All this says to me is that the collective wisdom of the market knows it will not EIS until 2027, and United has to hedge against that.

    • I had hoped as well but I think its very low to no chance now.

      767NEO at best while Boeing figures out a 150 – 200 seat competitor.

  20. From time to time on various forums I have been suggesting that the near term answer to Boeing problem of getting a product that covers the NMA and NSA markets is to buyout the Westernized MC21 airliner from Irkut. This has been done before in the jet trainer market where Leonardo acquired the Westernized Yak 131 and is now successfully marketing it as the Aermacchi M346. The Westernized MC21 already comes with P&W 1400 geared turbofan engines and a Honeywell Avionics. I think Boeing could buy into this program gets for US$2 Billion or less and spend another US$2 billion to bring it up to Boeing “specs”, get a base model that will be competitive against the A320 and A321 (Neo/LR/XLR). the -400 variant will definitely trump the A321 and the purported stretched A322. Note that Boeing also will get access to the Russian out of autoclave technologies. The Boeing evolved MC21 now rebranded as the 797 can be available to customers in the 2024 timeframe

      • Neither Boeing or any other large Western Aerospace Company has made an offer so we don’t know that yet for sure. Until an offer is made we won’t know that. Also, I am sure Irkut would love to see its aircraft sold in the thousands like other Boeing products rather than the hundreds that Russian on sales efforts produce.

      • “” Russia is not selling the MC21 program. “”

        I guess so too, it would make no sense after paying the Florida shop, LA maint and ET maint. They have the MAX and the market where they wanted to have it now, ready for an MC21 strike. Even Trump might replace his 757 with MC21 …

        • I always thought there was a ‘high risk’ that Embraer might license manufacture the MC21 and sell under it’s name and thus join the main suppliers with a full range of single aisle from 75 to 220 or so seats.
          That wasn’t too likely but will never happen now.

          • Hopefully he can take advantage of Putins offer soon!

    • The light carbon wing should be the big asset. It looks like the MC-21 has a 13′-3″ circular Al-Li fuselage, compared to the A320 which is 13′-0″ wide by 13′-7″ high.

    • >and spend another US$2 billion to bring it up to Boeing “specs”

      Systems list reads like a who’s who of western suppliers. Are there specific deficiencies you have in mind or are you assuming it must be deficient in some way?

      That said Boeing would bring credibility and expertise with western certification process.

      • Like Putin would allow this even if Boeing wanted to.

        Russia is recognized as a certifying AHJ, that is not the issue.

        The issue is they can’t support anything worth a hoot (nor can China).

        There is a reason the Superjet is a dud despite modern Western equipment including the engines.

      • With reference to Boeing ‘specs’, here I am thinking that Boeing might want to tweak the flight control systems in a manner that will allow for their version of the MC21 to have similar flight deck and flight control characteristics as their other products 787 and 777X and also maybe improve the wing aerodynamics (if that is necessary such as adding winglets), and last but not least add a GE Leap engine Option to the Boeing offering.

        • Its amazing this is taken seriously.

          We will have speed of light space flight before the Russians sell the MC21 or Boeing would even buy it.

          But maybe Trump can actually make the deal! (ROFL)

    • In your words lie the issue. I don’t think Boeing will buy the MC21. But it is a competitor to the A320 and far superiour to the MAX. But the same applies to the C919.

      About 2022 the narrowbody market changes for that’s when the MC21 and the C919 are certified. Airbus will sell the A320 but the MAX will be constantly pitted against the MC21 and C919.

      More importantly. Anybody who suggests that MAX technology is better or safer will cause a fit of giggles.

      Unless Boeing do a new narrowbody they will be circa 20% of the market by the end of the next decade (2030).

  21. Regarding a new ‘MOM’ish aircraft.It is accepted that to have the range and size required will for certain require a new engine.
    GE have stated that they will not be building a new engine the the ‘early 30’s’.So no new aircraft can be built till then ( unless they use the existing engines)so very hard to see what ‘breakthrough’ Boeing could make.

    • Really? GE is the only engine maker available?

      P&W anyone? GTF and a design all ready to go.

    • GE has said ‘no cleansheet’ , but that doesnt exclude using existing technology from both the Leap and GEnx for a 50k range engine .
      GE has said its teamed up with Snecma again so an engine in that size will be CFM .
      You put all those ‘quotes’ from GE Aviation CEO together and the CFM Leap/nx IS going to happen,only proviso is IF Boeing build a plane like that.

    • The world changes and you see more the shift to what is best for the company not buddy buddy relationships.

    • With an FSA from Boeing looking likely wonder what AB’s response will, their projection for an FSA is ~5 years later than that of BA.

      Guess an A220-500, A320Plus and A322 could be on the radar?

  22. Kiss the a350’s goodbye too.Funny no mention of that anywhere .A 7 year deferral is a nice way of saying thanks but your plane no longer has a place in our fleet .
    Seen it happen many times over .. American airlines comes to mind ..
    787 -10 has proven capable already for them.

    • Yes 787-10s to fly 40t all over Asia, or ultra heavy 777-8s or downscale to 787-9.. Here we go again, denial as strategy.

      • The 330-200 was perfect for its time, but the A338 seems to be going nowhere, the A339 is hanging in there but looks like a one legged family. The A359 is good but its a dedicated long ranger, AB has lots to think about competing with the 787 family.

        An A330-1000 (~5m stretch), 320 pax, 6000Nm range, 76Klb engines might work for an A330 family but could impact 350 sales?

        Looking at numbers the 359 OEW/pax is actually lower than that of the 339. Been shot down many times for this but will an A350-Series-2 with smaller and lighter wing (400SQM vs 440 for A359), new centre section, wing boxes, etc complete the 359 family concept. Possibly two models, 280 seats with 8000Nm range and model-2 with 330 seats and 6500Nm range, UF engines, basically replacing the 330’s.

        The (in) famous 250-300 seat, 4500-6000Nm gap still there.

        • “” Looking at numbers the 359 OEW/pax is actually lower than that of the 339. “”

          You can’t compare that. Cabin length is nearly the same 50.36m on A339 and 51.04m on A359. 9-abreast seating is worse on the A359 than 8-abreast on the A339.

  23. Kind of thinking what’s been noted difference places along these similar discussions. This kind of comes from the G. Faury interview that was posted on leehannews a while back. Summing up: No brand new planes coming out: Mostly concentrating on production of the most airplane orders in history. Sure United/Continental ordered the XLR, but they also have one of the biggest orders for the B737Max-10. The only thing that has changed (and it could be noteworthy) is Boeing appears to be shopping the FSA. But three months from now, with the MAX up and running, that could get pushed to the back burner.

  24. UA saw the only replacement available was the A321. It shouldn’t have surprised anybody. With the rise of point to point transatlantic the option was to forgo half their market share. The only other option for AA/DL/US was is increase their ownership of EU & S American carriers and serve these markets via code share. RIP American jobs.

    Not even tariffs can save Boeing’s bacon if they can’t invest in new designs. I’ve posted before why I see that being a problem, but if they want to stay in aerospace they’ll need to give their accountants a 15 year holiday, develope the NSA and try and ensure that some of it will be relievent when the next tech wave hits.

    • You really need to watch how the Freighter companies operate before saying that.

      MD-11 will continue to be part of the FedEx and UPS fleets until the 2030s, maybe latter. Its a combination that works.

      UPS bought brand new 757s and there is nothing out there to replace them. FedEx spent a lot of bucks buying used 757 and converting them as there is nothing else out there like it.

      No one makes even a converted A321 and that is the only close to 757 capacity (and it does not have the engine power the 757 does)

      The closes easy to build would be the MAX-10. All that FBW makes it a tough conversions case. 737 has had an F component from early on.

      Another area to look at is feed stock for used. That is why the 777BCF failed, few used ones (though that seems to be getting revived with the 200ER and LRs coming on market)

      The 777F and the MD-11 have similar load capability with the F better range is you fly light enough.

      FedEx did some straight through special and just supplemented MD-11.

      Air Freight is a world unto itself, I saw old 747-200F a few years ago still flying through Anchorage (none now).

      It also splits into FedEx/UPS/DHL/Amazon for one profile and the heavy lift guys like Atlas/Singapore for the other .

      • According to my knowledge Qantas ordered several A321 P2F from EWF because they can carry up to 50 % more cargo than Qantas’ current 737 freighters. A320 has container for the lower deck. Neither 737 nor 757 have it.

        • I new a few A320 were in the works but not the A321.

          Its a tough thing to use the lower deck containers as you loose so much.

          It works for FedEx/UPS etc as it enhances the handling end.

          737F never took off big either though the -10 might make a run for it.

          I don’t think either one has the can capacity that FedEx, UPS wants, ergo, the various 757F (200s)

          Fs are a world of their own and you need to watch what type of operator is involved as well.

  25. Future of Boeing:
    1st best option: forget NMA, get your s… (citing O’Leary) and built NSA asap, but do it good
    2nd best option: 767 NEO just to mark place at the market and win replacements without much crew training

    MOM isn’t a golden business, small pie, lots of development costs. Until A321XLR Airbus didn’t have a MOM aircraft like. And Boeing doesn’t have to neither. Real danger for B, is not A, is Comac which is hitting market soon.

    Future of Airbus, not necessarily in that order:
    1) make A322
    2) make A220-500
    3) derated A330neo to be better MOM (but airlines
    prone to upgauge looking at -800 sales)
    4) Ultrafan ready airframes to hit the market as soon as engine will be well tested

  26. In the past 35 years, Boeing’s largest investments are the 777, 787, and 777 rewing, all large aircraft. As the A220 is nearing 75t, the A321 100t, what is the best size for Boeing to design next, 75t, 100t, 125t, or 150t? I think Boeing’s best move is to build a 125t aircraft for EIS 2027 and build a 75t to 100t 737 replacement for 2037.

    • I highly doubt MAX backlog & sales are solid enough for 2037. They need an ultra efficient 150-180 seater <5 hours aircrafty to prevent their market share falling off the table. To convert the MAX backlog into. If they try force MAX onto overbooked customers, things could get ugly..

      • What do you think about doing a 767X as a placeholder NMA and going ahead with the NSA?

        • The 767X-300 wouldn’t have a chance against the A321LR.

          Maybe the 767X-300ER. Could it be certified easily?

        • I think its a hot topic in Seattle.

          Can they do a reasonable low cost 767 with new engine and cut a bit of weight?

          Too often thgey say, well an A330NEO is more econmciial.

          But an A330NEO is heavier and uses more fuel, its only the passenger numbers that shift it.

          If you don’t have the numbers then you operate a too heavy air frame for the pax numbers (by that regard an A380 replaces anything form a 767 on up)

          Or Delta is foolish to buy an A220 when they could fly an A321 on the same route.

          We have small cares that barely hold 2 and big ones that hold 15 for a reason.

          • If Delta uses A321s and A220-300s to replace 149 seat MD88s, then they are probably increases seats on those routes because the A321s probably have 30 more seats even though the A220s have 15 less seats. They are probably adjusting flights according to demand.

          • Similar to 737 MAX and NEO modifications I guess. New engine integration, engine pylon, strenghtening.

            The range requirement is limitted, 5000NM is easily possible, so MTOW could be kept under 350k lbs/ 160t

            This would limit structural modications and keep empty weight at around 85t, around 35t (!!) lower than A330 and 787s..

            a 30-35 empty weight advantage over the bigger twin aisles will keep all costs significantly down versus those more capable, often overspecified alternatives.

            New wings, -400 capacity, new materials, long range etc. would kill a 767 NEO in the craddle, so better stay sober and realistic.

          • Sorry, I meant the future sales price, how much more expensive than A321LR and how much cheaper than A330. I think this is very important to be competitive.

            I agree, 5000nm range is possible for the -300. OEW should be higher than 85t because of heavier engines, but should be 40t lighter than A330-800.

            They should do both, -300 and -400. I would compare the -300 to the A321LR and the -400 to the A330-900, since the A330-800 is ordered so rare. Just new engines and some aerodynamic improvements, same as A330neo. Would they keep the cockpit, or what could/should they improve?. Maybe not easy to get an engine, otherwise why isn’t Boeing doing it. Not easy to offer at a competitive price? It would be the most interesting Boeing to me.

  27. ‘Swoop’ colors?

    Looks basic to me.

    You mean like WestJet’s subsidiary?

    Or Andrew Bernstein’s novel about a basketball player?

    Definite lack of marketing sense in the airline industry.

    (Recall how AC and others cycled through names for subsidiaries, like Jazz and Song (to which JetBlue responded by naming one of its airplanes “Song Sung Blue”.)

  28. Still, replacing United’s 757s with the XLR removes these 50 airplanes from a potential NMA sale. This further stresses the already difficult business case for the NMA.

    I feel like pointing out the ibvious, but here goes:
    The 757 replacement ship has sailed for the NMA.

    In short, by 2025 there will be no NMA/MOM. Not even by 2030 given the continued indecision about launching this plane.
    By 2025, ~90% of the total 757 production run will be at or past retirement age.

    Just as a reminder:
    Just shy of 400 757s (or 38% of production) were already replaced, as only 660 out of 1049 delivered are still in operation.
    Roughly 500 (or ~50% of production) will be ~24 or older by 2025 (delivered after 2000).
    A new plane with an EIS in 2025 will then be left with those less than 10% of 757s delivered after 2000.
    I know, the odd 757 might hang on longer than 25 years in airline operations.
    Still the point remains… with an EIS way past 2025, if your business case relies on a contribution from 757 replacement business, you’re on fairly shaky ground to say the least.

    • “Just shy of 400 757s (or 38% of production) were already replaced, as only 660 out of 1049 delivered are still in operation.”

      It would also be worth pointing out that a significant number of in-service 757s are no longer carrying passengers.

      • Of those 660 left in operation, over 300 are only carrying cargo these days.

    • Have they been retired or converted to Freighters?

      I think the NMA market is really more a 767 light than a 757

      • Or a 757 light, OEW 48t, 240 seats, 3000NM, 1:15 BPR GTF’s. Boeing have to compete with the nimble A321 somehow.

        A SUV, hybrid NMA/FSA design, also able to do 150 seats, 2 hour flights would get Boeing bypassed in the NB segment, e.g. by Southwest Airlines.

        We are a bit in denial, but need to realize NMA is over & the 4000 aircraft 737MAX backlog is not what it was last year, it is cracking.

        How would you feel, if you ordered a $40k new car and you are waiting for it 9 months now, because there were 2 deadly crashes and since then new worrying revelations on the car pop up every week. And you can’t cancel, because you signed and did a prepayment, before all this happened. That is how MAX customers in the 737 backlog feel. Not enthousiast at all.

        • “” How would you feel, if you ordered a $40k new car and you can’t cancel, because you signed and did a prepayment “”

          Car producer:
          customers have the chance to order a $120k new car … or Sue Me

      • Have they been retired or converted to Freighters?

        The former. The 660 figure includes freighters (new-built and converted).

  29. “Officials at United are prone to favor Boeing, especially for wide-bodies…” Given the long history of these two, back to the learly 30s when, along with United Technologies, they were a one big business thatshould be no surprise. The government took anti-trust action to break up the cosy arrangement among manufacturer, equipment supplier, and airline, I believe – funny, that…

  30. ‘The range requirement is limited, 5000NM is easily possible…’
    Given the 67’s relatively straighter wing – a legacy of the first energy crisis in 1973-74 – very much more than 5,500nm begins to tell against the aircraft as a result of its lower M0.80 cruise speed, I think. Isn’t that what did for the proposed Longer Range 767-400ERX? Once the range goes very far past 6,000nm, flight duration becomes a consideration. Perhaps that was something that stimulated discussions of a higher-Mach-number design (though I’ve always regarded Sonic Cruiser as a marketing exercise rather than a serious proposal: carriers weren’t asking for speed, which rather gave the lie to Boeing’s mantra about building aircraft the airlines wanted…)

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