Pontifications: Stop hitting the snooze button, Boeing

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 9, 2019, © Leeham News: I know Boeing is preoccupied right now. But it has to get off the pot and decide to proceed with a new airplane.

We believe the New Midmarket Airplane is still required. But Boeing salesmen have also floated the concept of a new, single-aisle airplane to key players in the market. Either way, Boeing has to do something.

At least, that’s how we see it at Leeham Co.

The order last week by United Airlines for 50 Airbus A321XLRs should be a wake up call.

It’s not the only one Boeing has had.

Wake Up calls

Boeing was riding high from 2015 to October 29, 2018, when the Lion Air crash happened. Even then, the accident—involving an airline with such a spotty safety record that the European Union banned it from flying to Europe—was considered a one-off.

Boeing’s profits and cash flow, once the 787 turned cash positive in 2015, made the company flush with cash. The stock price soared.

But there were signs of trouble.

The 737-9 MAX was selling poorly, as did the 737-900ER before it.

Boeing had to really become creative to stretch the 737 yet again into the -10 MAX. The -10 will do what it’s intended to do well, but like the -9 MAX, it is inferior to the A321neo and especially the LR and XLR versions.

The KC-46A tanker was late and billions of dollars over budget.

The Queen of the Skies, the 747, had become a dowdy old maid.

And the 777X, heralded as the natural follow on to the highly successful 777-300ER, proved to be a slow-seller, with the 777-8 ultra long haul airplane occupying too small a niche and considered uncompetitive to the Airbus A350-1000.

Nevertheless, with the top three priorities being shareholder value, shareholder value and shareholder value, the Chicago executives and Board of Directors kept drinking their own Kool Aid.

The wake up calls were obvious, plentiful and there for all to see.

But Boeing kept hitting the Snooze button.

A 2 x 4 upside the head

To shift metaphors, there is a saying in the US that to get a mule’s attention, you have to whap it upside the head with a 2 x 4 piece of wood.

United’s order for the A321XLR is the metaphorical 2 x 4.

United’s endorsement of the airplane is a major boost as a former, all-Boeing single-aisle customer. (Ever since Continental and United merged, it’s bought only Boeing for the single-aisle airplanes.)

This makes the business case for the NMA more difficult than it already is. It also further sets back the MAX family, irrespective of the grounding.

“Boeing has to do something”

A supplier to Boeing (and to Airbus) told me last week, “Boeing has to do something.” It needs to proceed with a new airplane.

We at Leeham couldn’t agree more.

It’s understandable that Boeing’s first priority is to recertify the MAX and return it to service. But the MAX family truly rests on the back of the 737-8. The 737-7 has less than 2% of the backlog and the 737-9 isn’t much better. The 737-10 has about 12% of the backlog, but at least half of this came at the expense of swapping -8/9 orders to the -10.

Shareholder value is all well and good, but it’s time Boeing reinvested in the company and came up with new airplanes. If it doesn’t, as I wrote before, the name may as well be changed to McDonnell Douglas and watch it fade away.


142 Comments on “Pontifications: Stop hitting the snooze button, Boeing

  1. As I recall GE recently stated that there would be no All new engine until the early 2030’s.Cfm endorsed this view/ timeline if meaningful new technology were to be introduced.
    RR and P&W are hardly in a position to commit to anything right now.
    So what are you envisioning gets hung underneath this new Boeing aircraft?
    Whilst the rumours about a 767X with Leap engines may not set the World alight, if they want to do something fast,it’s the only thing available as both frame and engines exist.

    • I think both Pratt and GE/Safran can provide MarkII PW1000 LEAPX engines up to 40klbs. Enough for a nimble A321 competitor. Take all lessons learned from those engines, do the wings so a BPR 1:15 fits on.

      Boeing doesn’t have to beat the A321 by 15%, they have to safe the MAX backlog. That’s two different topics.

    • RR are even less in a position to commit to anything; they explicitly said in a public statement that they had informed Boeing that they’d not be offering an engine for the NMA.

      That was revealed back in, what, March/April, referring to communications with Boeing about a year ago.

      • New civil engines depend on earlier military core engine funding and when those advances in design and materials can be released to airlines (that happens when a new goverment funded program with even better core engine technology makes progress). The engine makers know their engines will be disassembled and tested in module test stands and further analysed both in design, coatings and base materials by the respective country military. So it is not only up to the engine manufacurers to decide when a new core technology engine can be offered.

        • If you listen to Faury you will hear he believes heavy Carbon Taxes or Certified Carbon Credits from “Cap and Trade” will hit aviation and severely impact the single aisle market as high speed trains will be promoted as an alternative. At the moment Carbon Taxes of Euro 380 per ton of jet fuel are being considered that would nearly treble the price of jet fuel. The following is not ideological its just political information. This is no whim by Faury in a Europe with Macron and Merkel running most things, its potentially very serious. Macron came out of nowhere as a politician, he is a banker from Goldman-Sachs a globalist bank that favours a carbon credit trading scheme and is the worlds biggest owner of certified credits. He is driving up carbon style taxes heavily and there are very heavy demonstrations in Paris against this. I have no doubt he will target aviation.

          Is it even worth investing 10-15 billion in a new aircraft?

          • I don’t necessarily buy in to conspiracy theories but your analysis stands scrutiny. Carbon tax in some shape or form is on the cards in the medium term at least and aircraft are an obvious target within controllable jurisdictions like the EU. It is the elephant and Faury is wise to acknowledge it. For all the convenience of short haul it is a conspicuous use of hydrocarbons where alternatives are possible.

        • That doesnt apply anymore . Fast jet military engines are of a whole different class nowdays. The last one to provide a ‘core’ for a civilian engine was F101 from the B-1 , which provided the basis for the CFM56.
          The 50s and early 60s were they heyday for military into civilian crossover.
          The GE J79 became the CJ805 for Convair 880/990. Pratts JT3 came from the J57 and JT4 from the J75
          The Concorde Olympus was a highly developed version of the military engine, and the Spey which started as a civilian project and went military as well. The Spey had only a small BPR which suited , and still does, military aircraft .
          Look at the modern F135 engine from its namesake the F35.
          BPR is 0.57, overall pressure ratio is 28:1, dry thrust 28k .
          Only thrust to weight ratio is 7.5:1 which is outstanding compared to GTF of around 5 :1.
          You can see how military has different priorities now.

          • The new generation of turbofans designed for Mach 1.8-Mach 2.2 super-cruising (eg Boom Supersonics) SST business jets and airliners seem to have a BPR of 3.0. Turbofans, without afterburners, are good for Mach 2.8-3.3. I learned of this when Elon Musk made a remark that he had ‘invented’ a battery powered supersonic jet with transcontinental range. I wondered if a EDF ‘electric ducted fan’ could operate at supersonic speed and found from a few NACA and NASA papers that it could. I think the plan is to take of vertically to avoid the need of heavy undercarriage and large wings, climb subsonically to high altitude and then cruise supersonically at a altitude where air density is 1% or less of sea level and thus parasitic drag as well. This is how jets got their range versus piston/prop aircraft and it will be how electric jets will as well. Since an electric vehicle is anaerobic the power plant should work quite well. I assume he was ‘conceiving’ of his invention using batteries capable of 800WHr/Kg which is 3.3 times todays energy density but available in labs.

    • Thats misinterpreting what GE said about ‘completely new’
      They have extended the partnership with Safran so that CFM can develop an new engine to ‘around the 50k + thrust level.’
      Thats enough for a range limited NMA-7 plane, so they will offer an engine if Boeing proceeds.
      Clearly it will use technology from GEnx , Leap and maybe even some from the GE9x like Ti additive blades ( the other 2 engines use cast Ti)

    • Seems to me an updated 767with wings and engines andcapability of 2 isle 7 or 8 abreast seating of reasonable width could be both a customer preferred and airline cost and range capable unit.

      Much more so than any medium or long range cattle car single isle unit.

      Granted I’m biased cuz Boeing was doing fine when I left in the mid 90’s..

      • I still fail to see how people still believe that the 767 can compete with A330s and 787s, both of which have made the 767 quite obsolete as far as Efficiency is concerned.

        But hey, let Boeing go ahead and try to sell the 767 again. Guess what, I am pretty certain the reception won’t be all that good. And despite what many think about those in charge at Boeing, I do believe they also know the 767 is a non-starter, even it it were dirt cheap to start up again.

        • 7-abreast 767 size is much lighter than A330 and 787. You can compare A223 with A319, it would be the same with 767 and A330.

          But it only makes sense if Boeing is producing quality, not beans.

          • Another question, why was the A330-200 a success but the A330-800 is rarely ordered?

            The 767-300 was a success, it was the first stretch from the 767-200. Stretching it further didn’t make it easier and the -400 had still less seats than the A330-200. Also the engines were modified/newer for the A330.

            But that doesn’t mean that a 4.72m cabin width can’t have advantages vs 5.26m. 7-abreast 767 has nearly the same comfort than 8-abreast A330.
            8-abreast carbon A359 is heavier than 8-abreast metal A339 and 9-abreast A350 is closer to the 787 pain than to the A330 comfort.

          • @HarryM: The A330 has much larger wings than the 767, 60,50 m against 47,60, which of course are more heavy but also more efficient on longer routes. The same is true for the engines. Then there is the freight capacity. Fly-by-wire, supercritical airfoil,… one could say it was total overkill. That is why Boeing in this case didn’t even try to upgrade the 767.

            Besides, rumor has it that the 767 is relatively expensive to build, while the A330 seems to be quite low in production cost.

          • Gundolf,

            if the 767 were expensive that would be of course a big reason, but I doubt that because of small wings. Boeing did the same on the 787 obviously to lower costs. An idea about pricing could give the freighter versions now, but I don’t have data.
            Economics could be a reason too at that time because the A330-200 was newer, but that doesn’t mean that a 767X couldn’t be fuel efficient now.
            A 767X could also use the 52m wide wings of the -400 if that would be useful.
            A 767X is just a smaller size which has advantages too, especially when the A330-800 is ordered so rare. But it might have to compete against the A321 and that market seems to move to larger sizes. That’s why a 767 size could make sense against an A322, especially if it could be competitive in price. Of course the 767 is an old design and might not make sense to re-engine because of this.

            So how would Boeing compete against an A322?

      • You can’t knock the B767 or B777 (9 across) or A380 as they all focused on passenger comfort. Unfortunately the game has changed

  2. Fully agree, if a company does not have products people want/need that is the end. Maybe they will end assembling Airbuses…

    Also for market sake and positive evolution of air travel there is need of a competitor to Airbus.- with 2 is already too short –

    But i do not believe in Boeing as culture – the issue is culture – to change it around. Too many persons would need to change and that is implying that there are replacements. Does Boeing have a defense sector deep enough they can bring some people from?

    • “Does Boeing have a defense sector deep enough they can bring some people from?”

      What do you expect? Just look at the KC46 project!
      for the new Trainer Boeing seems to be the PR and showroom provider ( leveraging Saab work.)

      How will B-Embraer be handled? Following the Saab template?

      • Thanks. Btw what i meant by culture above is much more deep than shareholder for shareholder sake but a shift much more vast, i mean US culture drive have been to soft industries: software, finance and the like, far from hard feedback of physical world. The naval industry is almost non existent except for military ships and the next USN frigate will be most probably an European design is another example of this situation related to dearth of physical engineering.
        The only place i see strong engineering drive is in space industry and some niche related to supposed to be “green” tech. There are also very good work in Oil industry but that is an accessory.

        Would be interesting to know the age variation in Boeing work force at all levels specially engineering and their positions in company.

        • I red somewhere that +60% of US export is software and services. Most other western countries has given up commercial shipping except for some special applications, like huge cruise ships. Apples iphones are made in Asia but most of its software is US made, still software is easier to copy and improve than advanced electro-mechanical machines loaded with software, like aircrafts and jet engines.

        • Isn’t a newest technology but will have a NEO engines and will be on the market soon. I think it will take significantly more time to Irkut to bring MC21 to the market – definitely more innovative – more time consuming to develop.

  3. So the question is not so much reacting to the alarm but what exactly do Boeing do. I have felt that for the past 10 years there has massive over emphasis on the development of TA aircraft at the expense of the SA sector. Perhaps the TA sector generates much better margins but I am not privy to such figures. The SA is so much of the market in terms of volume, cash flow and profit that surely this is where both Boeing and Airbus should pay more focus. What we have seen is that over the neo/MAX change Airbus has gone from a small advantage to a significant advantage in terms of product offering (A321 plus variants) and this has been further hammered home by the acquisition of the A220. So Boeing has to find a play in this space somewhere. The question is where can they go and make return? They have a single marginal winner in this sector in the MAX 8 (providing it throws off its MCAS issues) and that is the middle of the middle in terms of SA. Whatever they develop will have to impinge on the sales of this product regardless of whether they go bigger vs the A321 or smaller vs the A220. The MOM/NMA has just been an excuse to do nothing in this sector for as long as possible. I would be intrigued to hear what they can do to break this strong Airbus dominance going forward because it is going to require an acceptance that the MAX needs replacing either partially or completely and I don’t think senior management want to hear that.

    • There’s two answers to the question “So what exactly do Boeing do?”.

      One answer is to get the MAX flying, start delivering that backlog, use the revenue from that to develop a new single aisle aircraft ASAP and insert that into whatever’s left of their loyal customers’ development plans. That’ll mightly annoy MAX customers, because they’ll be ending up with inferior aircraft that no one will want to buy second hand (or even new, really). However they’d have no choice but to curse and swear at Boeing because there’s not a whole lot that Airbus can do to ramp up their own capacity to be able to supply A321neos instead, and no one has been quite brave enough to buy from Comac.

      The other answer is basically the same, except it’s spoiled by Airbus pulling off a miracle with production rates, introducing their own new product too, and Comac coming into the market segment, both tempting fed up Boeing customers away. The result? Boeing has sold a bunch of MAXs to some very unhappy airlines, and has nothing really left to offer that airlines aren’t already getting from someone else. Bankruptcy awaits. BTW we know that some airlines have indeed been speaking to Comac. If the MAX fails to get flying soon, I’m sure we’ll see some orders going Comac’s way.

      I don’t think should underestimate the second answer. Airbus has a big A380 FAL coming free fairly soon. Airbus can also develop a new aircraft and insert it into their backlog smoothly without upsetting anyone. Airbus’s customers’ pilots can already fly it. Boeing won’t be able to pull off the same trick.

      Airbus also is a smooth, reliable development machine right now; if they start a project, it’ll pretty much run to plan. Boeing are in a position where they’ve got to learn again how one is supposed to design aircraft; any project started in haste now has got to be questionable with regard to schedule, etc.

      The recent mutual recognition agreements between EASA, CAAC will help Comac.

      There’s not many reasons to be optimistic about Boeing being able to survive this in the long term. If the MAX doesn’t return to the skies, we’ll be talking about the short term looking poor.

      • Yes and no, Airbus has the FBW advantage, possibly further augmented to the A220 standard, but both OEMs havethe issue of installed investment and the need to gear to a new aircraft. What sets them apart is twofold.

        Boeing have made a virtue of old non FBW tech which stymies the seamless transition to a new platform risking considerable issues of Airbus conquest sales

        Boeingare in the weak position of having to make the play whereas Airbus has the luxury of allowing them to make the first move and not nailing it.

        Beyond that Boeing has has a better track record of hitting the market that matters but I think both OEMs are beyond savvy on that nowadays. The problem being for both that what is the juicy platform today may not be the one in 15-20 years and this has been borne out too many times over the years.

  4. Airbus is in a much better position than Boeing. Airbus has the newest clean-sheet narrowbody, with the latest technology, and the only narrowbody with CFRP wings, the A220 (EIS 2016). It is also possible to stretch this aircraft, making it a three aircraft family, a family that covers the traditional narrowbody segment.

    Airbus also has the newest widebody, the A350 (EIS 2015). It is doing very well in the market.

    And let us not forget the A320 family, and especially the A321.

    Boeing needs to innovate and launch new clean-sheet families.

    • Additive Mfg and Thermoplastic Composites for large structures will not be ready for another 5-8 years, so if Boeing launches now with CFRP wings (e.g. A220) and metallic fuselage (e.g. A220) with no engine technology, Airbus will wait until 2030 and launch revolutionary single aisle with new mfg materials and processes and get major cost savings

      • Agree that momentum is better for Airbus then Boeing, but Boeing missed his opportunity window after NG and has to catch up. Maybe Airbus will make full CF airframe in future but will profits will be big enough to make a big difference for airlines in a single aile aircraft class, that’s a question and risk.

  5. Airbus and Boeing are big, powerful and established companies and everything that happens within their organisations move slowly and incrementally. In fact, they are like supertankers; they are large and powerful, but turn slowly, in long turning circles. Also, once the course is set, it takes time to slow them down, longer to bring them to a stop, and even longer to turn them around.

    With the market dominance of the A321neo — including the LR and XLR versions — and the long 737 MAX grounding, Boeing is caught up in a situation entirely of their own making. What has led Boeing down a competitive dead-end, with respect to the MAX, is a combination of management volition, lack of adaption within the company and industry evolution. Hence, Boeing made their bed with the launch of the MAX in 2011, now they have to lay in it. Also, coming up with a new single aisle business plan this late in the game, does not guarantee success.

    Launching a new Boeing CFRP single aisle aircraft today would likely still be as premature as it would have been if Boeing had launched it in 2011. The 787 and A350 don’t scale down well and the critical technologies required for a composite, next generation single aisle aircraft has barely reached TRL-4. It’s not even settled today whether or not a next generation composite fuselage, manufactured by liquid resin infusion, would beat a next generation metallic fuselage when it comes to manufacturability, automation and costs — and it’s still a non-trivial trade-off between using either composites or aluminium for the wings on a next generation single aisle aircraft.

    A new product launch is easily the most important event for either Airbus and Boeing. Not getting it right can be catastrophic. Thus, an urgent haste on the part of Boeing, just in order to do something, could lead to catastrophic consequences. In short, Boeing cannot afford another failed strategy — i.e. risk of new Boeing Future Small Aircraft (FSA) being leapfrogged by a considerably more advance Airbus single aisle aircraft entering into service in the first half of 2030s.

    This means that there seems to be more uncertainty today on how the next generation single aisle aircraft will look like (shape, materials etc) and how they will be manufactured, than what appeared to be the case in 2011.

    It appears, therefore, that Boeing is in a situation where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The A321neo/XLR will be in a totally dominant market position for the next 10 years. The 2020s will, in all likelihood, turn out to be a “lost decade” for Boeing, with respect to half the segment of the single aisle market — assuming that the 737-8 MAX will regain confidence in other half of the lower capacity segment of the single aisle market.

    IMO, Boeing made their first strategic mistake in 1993 by not launching an all new single aisle aircraft, based on the technology developed for the 777, instead of the 737NG. They should have known that Airbus down the road would re-engine the A320 as soon as new generation engines would become available. They only had to look at the A320 engine ground clearance to see how easy that could be done — you didn’t even have to be an engineer in 1993 in order to realise that re-engining the NG with significantly larger diameter engines would be a whole lot more difficult than it would be for the A320. So, Boeing knew back then, or rather; should have known back then how far they could push the limits of the 737 design.

    The second strategic mistake made by Boeing, with respect to the single aisle competitive landscape, was not launching a conventional single aisle aircraft in 2011. If Boeing had decided to just better the A320neo family — i.e. more modern A320-type fuselage with a LD3-45 compatible lower hold, aluminium wings/fuselage structure and 787-derived systems (etc.) — they could have had that aircraft in service by now. Hence, there would have been no near-term need for neither a NMA nor a FSA.

    Furthermore, the notion that you have to bury the competition seems to be a uniquely American trait. With the 787, Boeing apparently believed that they would “bury” the A330. At the 2012 Phoenix ISTAT conference, Boeing’s Mike Bair spoke of eliminating Airbus from the large twin market.

    With that kind of mindset, it’s easy to understand why the management at Boeing thought that if they couldn’t “kill” the A320 outright, they’d just copy what Airbus was doing with the A320, with their 737NG — damn the consequences.

    Challenges that that should have been easily recognisable to Boeing’s management in the summer of 2011, should have included:

    A) Risk assessment of pushing the limits of the basic 737 design.

    B) Game theoretic modeling of the risk of giving Airbus a significant single aisle market share advantage by looking at what the enhancements to the A320neo family would do to performance of the aircraft (payload, range etc.) and what that would mean to furthering the fragmentation of the market

    C) The risk of making a strategic mistake of prioritising the upcoming 777X instead of a conventionally built NSA.

    • I think you make quite a few very relevant points.

      I agree “Boeing thought that if they couldn’t “kill” the A320 outright…” it’s not necessary, or even desirable to “kill” or “Embrace, and extinguish” your competition.

      Customers like competition. All you need to do is produce a better product than the competition !

      Time for Boeing to go back to being an engineering led company.

      Boeing do need to do something, but will they, and can they ?

      If they don’t do anything, they’re likely to lose some of the best skilled employees that they have. If Boeing isn’t going to design anything new for five to ten years, why would they keep employing designers, and even if they did, what are those designers to do while they wait ?

      • Well, Boeing was started by a lawyer and lead by another one for a large chunk of is history.

        It would be good if people actually read the Boeing history vs repeating phrases.

        • Bill Allen and Frank Shrontz were [smart] lawyers …. who had a pretty good idea of what they didn’t know. They also were in it for the long term.

          Those lawyers weren’t that bad, and engineer Muilenburg isn’t that good.

          You might just as well ask about the Board members, who pick the CEO and set direction for the company. X marks the spot. Dig there.

          • Agree the lawyers in charge were there for their managerial and strategic vision and not because they were lawyers

        • Bill Boeing was the son of a very very rich family who made their $$$ in iron ore. ( timber and minerals around lake superior )
          Started out as Pacific Aero Products Co. (1916–1917), Boeing Airplane Company (1917–1961 )

          Thus in the 20’s and 30’s his yacht was named the Taconite. When the so called ‘ airmail ‘ act was passed, which effectively broke up boeing, he left the company with only his name and a pile of stock. Bill allen took over right after ww2 when virtually all military contracts were cancelled.

          Before the breakup – Boeing United airlines, hamilton standard, pratt and whiskey, and seveeral airfields were part of the “Boeing brand ”

          William divested himself of ownership as his holding company, United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, broke into three separate entities:

          United Aircraft Corporation, holding the former eastern US manufacturing (now United Technologies Corporation)
          Boeing Airplane Company, with western US manufacturing, which later became The Boeing Company
          United Air Lines for flight operations

          He began investing most of his time in his horses in 1937. Boeing Airplane Company, through a major manufacturer in a fragmented industry, did not really become successful until the beginning of World War II.

      • JakDak said: “Customers like competition. All you need to do is produce a better product than the competition !”

        How do you describe the competition between the Mac and the PC in the mid 1980s and early 1990s?

    • So… if I read your post correctly… it is game over for Boeing… it is now too late for Boeing to ever “catch up” with Airbus?

      Within the time frame of an all-new NB development, some things you didn’t mention in your post that potentially could have significant impact on the airframe market: the possibility of a recession (Ray Dalio is calling it the upcoming “great slow down”), airline consolidation, the possible increase in airspace capacity with NextGen, the impact of carbon pricing, etc.

      • @Josep

        So… if I read your post correctly… it is game over for Boeing… it is now too late for Boeing to ever “catch up” with Airbus?

        What I’m saying is that:

        A) Boeing is stuck with the 737 MAX for the next decade. They can’t just change course now — it’s too late. OEM strategies in the Large Commercial Aircraft (LCA) market take decades to play out. We’re now seeing the results of the choices taken by Boeing over three decades. Boeing had their first chance to counter the A320 in 1993 with an equally advanced aircraft. The second opportunity for Boeing to counter the evolved, re-engined A320 platform occurred in 2010/2011. If they had taken their chance of developing a 777-derived single aisle aircraft in 1993, they would not have been in a pickle in 2011, when the 737 MAX programme was launched in a panic. What frightened Boeing most of all, was losing their biggest most important customer, American Airlines.

        B) The 737-8 is the only MAX family member which is truly competitive with a member of the A32Xneo family.

        C) A “conventional” 737 MAX replacement launched today, may have a short life cycle if Airbus would launch a far more advanced single aisle replacement aircraft that could be launched half a decade hence.

        D) The A321-sized single aisle market will largely go to the A321neo/XLR.

        E) The A321-sized single aisle market is moving towards 50 percent of the entire single aisle market.

        E) ….leading to the likelihood of the 737-8 MAX — and thus the 737 MAX family — only being able to truly compete in about half of the single aisle market.

        So, I’m not saying that it’s “game over for Boeing”, but that they should accept the situation as it is — of their diminished single aisle market share — and not launch a LSA in a panicking/reactive-mode, but do everything they can do in order to bounce back strongly a decade, or so, hence.

        As for your other points:

        i) A recession would likely influence travel more negatively in mature economies than in emerging economies. The A32Xneo series have better market penetration than the 737 MAX in emerging economies. India, for example, is among several global economies showing sustained high growth, and where Airbus has a 70 percent market share.

        ii) Consolidation:


        iii)NextGen is an implementaion plan for U.S. airspace. What’s your point?

        iv)Carbon pricing will IMJ accelerate the development of next generation single aisle aircraft. It won’t affect the single aisle market share during the 2020s, though.

        Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury believes that step-change production, design and propulsion technologies will converge in just over a decade to trigger the introduction of an all-new single-aisle airliner.

        “I would consider the launch of a [single-aisle] programme in the second half of the next decade and entry into service in the early 2030s,” said Faury at the Dubai air show.

        “We are at a point of time where we see a number of major changes impacting aviation, and they will probably impact the single-aisle business first.”

        Automation of the production system is a key enabler, says Faury. “We are all working on this. We see [production] ‘robot-isation’ at the scale of those products close to being mature.”

        He says the next-generation airliner will have to be “DDMS” [digital design, manufacturing and services]: that is, full design, manufacturing and services in one digital backbone. This is not ready yet – not before the beginning or middle of the next decade.”

        Faury says another key enabler is the expansion of digital capabilities: “We want the next plane to be a digital native – the ‘millennial’ of the plane.”

        But “decarbonisation” is the biggest enabler for an all-new programme, he says.

        “We are working with many partners to anticipate and prepare the technologies and propulsion systems of the future. It will be worth launching the development of a new single-aisle only when we have a combination of those technologies that make sense.”

        Faury says the aviation industry’s commitment to the ICAO’s global carbon offset scheme, CORSIA, that emissions will stabilise by 2035, despite the industry’s growth, is feasible. “The big reduction will come from 2035 onwards because we see the entry into service of very new technologies on propulsion systems at scale in the early 2030s.”


        • I agree with all that OV-099. Arguably Boeing should have read the writing on the wall when the A320 was first flown, back in 1987. If they’d responded then, perhaps the first use of 777’s fly-by-wire would have been on a 737 replacement.

          Regarding market share, Boeing’s focus on shareholder value has been their worst enemy. By saying “we’re selling more aircraft, making more profit”, they’ve been able to justify a share price. But this has also disguised the fact that their market share has been in constant decline since 1987. Normally, declining market share should be a strong indicator of having to do something radical, rather than something merely derivative.

        • Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Below are some ideas for consideration that may impact aircraft sales:

          i) In an economic slowdown, orders are cancelled/pushed back and aircraft parked.

          ii) The article was written 2 years ago by the head of the airline association and I don’t imagine he would have said otherwise. Given the rapid expansion of several Asian carriers, and the financial difficulties some have already gone through or are going through, with the next economic downturn it is not too far fetched to see consolidation (or worse, bankruptcies) and the rationalization of fleets.

          iii) Carbon pricing will impact ticket prices which will impact the % of people that will travel by air. The question is by how much?

          iv) NextGen (and SESAR in Europe) will increase air navigation system capacity and would allow increased fragmentation. Particularly Trans-Atlantic traffic. The question is by how much?

          In the time frame to develop an all-new aircraft, a lot is going to change. Economically, potentially automation may be the the most impactful issue, particularly following on the heels of a global economic slowdown.

          Anopther issue that may significanlty curtail aircraft replacement is plummeting fuel costs. Bloomberg Energy is reporting that peak oil demand could come as soon as 2023.

          So, I am wondering how all these issues will interact and impact the airframe market over the next 5-10 years.

        • Faury is talking of possible massive “carbon taxes” on jet fuel of around 380 Euro/Ton which is about 65 Euro/barrel or 0.45 Euro/Litre. It would nearly treble the price of jet fuel.

          It would kill the narrow aisle market.

          Hopefully climate realism can endure climate hysteria we are seeing now where children are suffering clinically diagnosed eco-anxiety and being indoctrinated into fear and anger and the general public is exposed to activist journalists in a main stream media promoting climate alarmism.

          Absorption of radiation by CO2 follows a logarithmic scale and has been saturated since 1940. It can’t absorb anymore. The effect of a 120ppm increase in CO2 from 280ppm to 400ppm would require an increase of 1200ppm from 400ppm to 1600ppm. At most we can discern a 0.8 degree increase in long term temperature, at most, that was complete by 1940. Ice core samples show historical variations of CO2 up to 5000ppm. Non of those periods show the presences of methane so we are not going to experience an methane apocalypse of methane coming out of melting tundra. The planet is greening at a massive scale. It is more forested and greener now than any time in the past 100 years and agricultural yields are up. In order to absorb CO2 plants must keep their pores open which looses them hundreds of H2O molecules. With CO2 up more arid regions become viable. So long as nitrogen is available plant life blooms and this itself has a positive effect on climate.

          There is no climate crisis, we have time. No need for fear and anger or big bank carbon credit trading, open borders for climate refugees that aren’t happening and a global carbon tax. Relax, have some children.

          Because air transport emits only 12% of transport emissions, 2% of total emissions targeting aviation is made when there is much easier areas to reduce emissions. Airlines spend 3 times more on fuel than aircraft so they are well motivated to invest in more fuel efficient aircraft and reduce fuel burn. By taxing fuel the ability of airlines to make the profits needed to purchase new fuel efficient designs is eliminated. We can even see Faury hold of on investments in new aircraft types that would improve fuel burn.

          The danger is we do something stupid as we did with wind an solar power. Rather than replace coal fired power stations (40% efficient) with combined cycle gas turbine with a steam topping cycle (now 64% to 68% efficient) we’ve ended up with a bunch of windmills and a bit of solar that degrades after 8 years and simple cycle gas turbines of 50%-54% efficiency. Overall its been a waste of resources.

          If your were sincere about reducing emissions one would spend equal resources on electric tractors such as Massey Ferguson make and just improve aviation efficiency.

          There is no climate crisis, we have time. No need for fear and anger or carbon trading, open borders for climate billions of climate refugees and a global carbon tax. Relax, have some children.

    • Let’s not forget that the 737NG did very well. What you are saying about 1993 is with 2019 knowledge. Back then open rotor and other techniques seemed much more likely, meaning that both, the 737 and the 320 design would become redundant within 10 years.

      The hybris came in 2011, when Boeing thought Airbus was dead with their 380 and 400M and the assumption was that Airbus would mess up the 350 as much as the 787.

      They set new rentability and cash flow records every year and saw a new programme as a 30 bn risk.
      Also, let us not forget, that production ramp up of a completely new plane is slow and 4900 MAX orders would have gone to somebody else. I think back then management just wanted to hear engineers that say “yes, we can re-engine the 737!” which was somehow correct and seemed to work till March 2019 and actually the thing flies somehow, indeed.

      • @ChrisA

        Let’s not forget that the 737NG did very well. What you are saying about 1993 is with 2019 knowledge. Back then open rotor and other techniques seemed much more likely, meaning that both, the 737 and the 320 design would become redundant within 10 years.

        The fact of the matter is that re-engining the A320 was a trivial undertaking, while the 737NG was not. Again, one would only had to look at the A320 engine ground clearance to see how easy a re-engining of that platform could be undertaken — you didn’t even have to be an engineer in 1993 in order to realise that re-engining the 737NG with significantly larger diameter engines would be a whole lot more difficult than it would be for the A320.

        Now, if you had said 1985 instead of 1993, then perhaps you’d have a point. By 1993, Boeing had dropped the 7J7 in favour of the 777 and 737NG. Hence, in 1993 the open rotor had been reclassified as a long-term goal (i.e. + 20 years), while in 1985 the open rotor was looked at as a near-term technology.


        • OV-99, somehow what you wrote supports my argument or what i wanted to say: In 1993, the 20 year goal for open rotor or new turbines was indeed 2013.
          So, from that perspective, a 737NG, was a good solution and indeed make it well through these following 20 years.
          The problem was that in the early 2010s, Boeing was not willing to make the next step and undertake the effort to do a NSA for various reasons.

          Does anybody know what has happened to these open rotor or advanced turbo prop concepts? I saw the airbus bird of prey concept:


          While i am aware that this is like a concept car in automotive, I wonder how a 2 reactor shoulderwing carbon plane 6 abreast would perform, especially given the fact that new materials and advanced carbon might do miracles on probellers. Remember, ATR changed theirs already 10 years ago from 4 to slow turning 6 blade and the Europrop TP400 has 8.

          • There is a geared open rotor engine that is certified and theoretically available “off the shelf”: Ukraine’s Progress D-27. AFAIK, it’s only used on one aircraft (not just type), an Antonov An-70 military cargo plane, which was certified in 2015 and flies for the Ukrainian army. The D-27’s propfan and gearbox are manufactured in Russia, though. Unless Progress finds replacement suppliers from countries that aren’t effectively at war with Ukraine, I don’t think you can actually get your hands on the engine.

            Of the Western manufacturers, only Snecma is publicly working on open rotor.


          • @ChrisA

            I wrote 20 + years which is more akin to the old joke that fusion energy is 30 years away — meaning that an open rotor engine is still 20 (+) years away…..

            Now, as I’ve said on numerous occasions, the 737NG was essentially a dead-end programme. Boeing spent more than half of what would have been required for an all new, 777-derived single aisle platform that would have matched the A320 in being future proofed for re-engining, and where the larger model would now have matched the A321neo/LR/XLR.

      • ChrisA, the book is not yet closed on the NG. Pickle fork issues might severely dent the ultimate economic outcome of that aircraft. It’s supposed to be good to 90k cycles, however it stands a chance of falling to pieces between 20k or 30k cycles. With there being no permanent fix in sight there’s a prospect that all NGs getting towards 30,000 are nearly valueless. So yes, the NG did sell very well, but the outcome (especially with the MAX problems too) could be very negative for Boeing’s future sales.

        Also whilst the ramp up on a completely new plane may well be “slow”, had they gone with a new design in 2011 it’d likely be flying by now. Even if Boeing had gone that way and taken their own sweet time over it (getting it right), it’s not like those 4900 orders would have run away and turned into Airbuses. Far from it; Airbus couldn’t deliver them even it wanted to, and airlines likely (on balance) would have been relishing a new Boeing competitor anyway.

        Admittedly I’ve written this from a 2019 point of view; others are more qualified to say whether or not this situation was reasonably predictable in 2011. My untutored view is that it was predictable.

        There are rumours that Airbus considered themselves to be taking a pretty big gamble with the A320neo. Boeing might have responded with a whole new design – CF wing, fuselage, better comfort, etc. That might have made the A320neo look, well, inadequte in comparison. However Boeing announced yet another 737 derivative, much to the relief of Airbus.

        Ironically if Boeing now announces a MAX replacement and decides to take the revnue hit by ditching the MAX, Airbus pretty much have to announce their own new design too, the very thing they’d want to avoid having sunk cash into the A320neo. The difference is that Airbus’s customers’ pilots can already fly it, whatever it is.

        • “” if Boeing now announces a MAX replacement, Airbus pretty much have to announce their own new design too, the very thing they’d want to avoid having sunk cash into the A320neo. “”

          Airbus should not do this, they are successful now, no need to be behind the 8-ball, Airbus can wait, doing the XLR and then 320Plus and after that starting NSA for EIS in 2030.
          Boeing was behind the 8-ball and what was it good for to rush things. Much more important is to have new planes ready when there is demand and other planes get retired. Boeing missed this date often lately, they are so slow, mismanaged.

          • I’m afraid I don’t agree Leon. If Boeing starts a new development and launches a high tech ultra good single aisle now, and Airbus doesn’t then in 8 years time it’ll be Boeing with the mega sales and Airbus looking out of date and derivative.

            That is why Airbus must match Boeing’s development plans. The difference is that Boeing will be rushing it, but Airbus has time to do it properly and the revenue stream and customer good will to support it. Airbus can be behind Boeing, but they mustn’t be 3 or 6 years behind.

          • Matthew,

            maybe, but there might not be ultra high tech available now. In 2025 everybody will know that a new Airbus SA will come, it will give airlines prospect time.

            Now I would bridge the time with an all metall plane. The comparision with A359 and A339 showed that the carbon weight advantage is not much. But a big advantage would be turboprops. So even if Airbus has an NSA for EIS in 2030 this turboprop would still be a good choice for use and damn cheap.
            If not SA Boeing could do a new 767 size 160t with 4 turboprops, that would be exciting.

          • I agree with both of you??? Simply the one thing both OEMs have been tacitly avoiding is a new SA competition that hurts both of them financially when they have these cash cows. What else explains the unwillingness of Airbus to compete more heavily against the MAX 8. Miner tweaks on the A320neo platform would give the middle segment a much tighter competition

          • Some things missing are the business plans — Southwest — that drove the reliance on the 737. This gave rise to a whole different way of doing business and dozens of airlines worldwide. As for turboprops. What about the cost of repair? Don’t they have more moving parts?

          • John Leahy, Airbus’s legendary COO, argued around the launch of the neo that an all new airframe could be 5% more efficient than the neo (which was 16% more efficient than the CEO) and that no airline would role over a fleet for such a small increment. It may be that since the 2011 there have been advances that can do better. Apart from lighter airframe, slipperier more volumous wings able to hold more fuel there may be better aerodynamics such as a true laminar flow, lighter hydraulic systems such as EHA actuators.

    • Regarding the trade-off between aluminium and CF, Airbus now has experience of the very latest in both. A220 has a Al-Li fuselage, seems to work well, and a CFRP A350, which also works very well. A350 production doesn’t need a massive autoclave like the 787 does. I’m presuming that liquid resin infusion is all about not having a have a big autoclave.

      The maxim “Develop, or Die” applies here. For me the only question is can Boeing survive long enough to properly, finally, actually develop a new replacement for 737, or will they go bust trying. If the MAX stays on the ground, they’ll go bust for sure.

      • “” Regarding the trade-off between aluminium and CF, Airbus now has experience of the very latest in both. A220 has a Al-Li fuselage, seems to work well, and a CFRP A350, which also works very well. “”

        The A220 is great, one of the widest seats available.
        The A350 is disappointing with 9-abreast seating and who would use 8-abreast seating for eco-class. Sure it’s still better than 9-abreast 787 and 10-abreast 777, but still, chosing 5.61m for a cabin section looks bad.

        A350-900 cabin length is 51.04m, 50.36 for A330-900.
        OEW for A350-900 is around 142.4t and 137t for A330-900.
        So if you use 8-abreast seating the A350 is even heavier, makes no sense, what was all the cabon good for, that was very stupid, Airbus got kind of Boeingitis cutting seat space.

      • A350 does have big autoclaves, just they dont need the whole fuselage diameter. Each fuselage sectioon has long panels – crown, sides and belly that are cured in an autoclave and them assembled into fuselage barrels.

        Boeings difficulty is automation ( thats another pinch point ) favours the panel approach , but do you do it in Metal Fibre laminates ( like the Glare used on the A380 upper fuselage) or do you go for out of autoclave composites , then what sort of composites, thermoplastic or thermoset.

        An Al-Li fuselage that is matched to a standard composite wing may be the quickest but ‘could be ‘ out date in 10 years.

        For economic production reasons the NMA and NSA should be based on as much shared structural assemblies as possible – with adaptations where necessary.
        Im thinking of cockpit , empennage and as much wing structure as is possible. The plane systems would be shared products and technology too. That way you get single aisle production volumes to overlap with small double aisle plane with smaller volume.

  6. It seems Boeing is thinking that they can’t earn money with a 767X, otherwise why aren’t they doing it. The 767X would be the most interesting Boeing.

    • 767X is fodder for the echo chamber ( and crumbs for the hordes of AstroTurfers stating another prekill of Airbus to pick on :-).

      One in a set of other distractions. Super efficient 787 ( now just about as good as the 330NEO same engines, rather similar performance … at what cost and think about the plethora of B first and only superinovations … )
      NSA, just around the corner died with a whimper : MAX was born with a kind of trisomy 21 it lives but it never will be a bright child and stand on its own.
      MOM, even less tangible.
      767X ….
      The only thing that currently could turn positive is the 777X. But Boeing seems to have overtaken itself with the scope of grandfathering and number of waivers/special conditions on that design.

      apropos: what is the technological readiness path for the Airbus (more/mostly) laminar flow single aisle wing?

      • too poetic. i don’t understand many of the buried allusions. what are you saying?

          • 777X might not be certifyable with EASA. I would expect Boeing cheated there too. Cheating was just normal.
            Beside that 10-abreast 777X is worse than 9-abreast A350.

            7-abreast size could be interesting to compete against A322 and A323, but Boeing comercial aviation might be done after EASA uncovered everything.

  7. I agree, title says it well.

    My view:
    1) forget NMA, get your s… (citing O’Leary) and built NSA asap, but do it good,
    2) if have to, make 767 NEO just to mark place at the market and win replacements without much crew training

    NSA (and its variants) is a future and cash. MOM isn’t a golden business, small pie, lots of development costs. Until A321XLR Airbus didn’t have a MOM aircraft like (for me somehow A330 isn’t a real MOM) and was living with it for many years, and Boeing doesn’t have to have one neither to survive and develop.

    Real danger for B, is not A, is Comac which is hitting market soon.

  8. I think looking back (it’s easy, but its not like they weren’t told), this can be traced back to the Dreamliner drama. A decade ago Boeing was in the midst of it and felt short term buying time with the 737RE was the only option.

    What followed was IMO strong groupthink the 737MAX was good enough for at least until 2030. They told themselves so often, they started believing.

    And stock price, sales were there proving the right, silencing nay sayers. Overconfidence fueled by getting the tanker anyway, large tax breaks, 787 debt forgivingness and the success of directing congress / FAA to help out Boeing (rebirth of agrresive certification grandfathering) removed gravity for the leadership.

    If the launch a real lean, efficient NB (say 5-10% better than NEO) they can get some big airlines to commit, if only for long term airline dual source policies (Ref. IAG). If they first “take time to fully understand” BS again and let A220/C919 ramp up..

    And maybe dismantle the share holder value drivers a bit, they caused large damage to the company. It didn’t say nationalize a bit..

  9. In retrospect the clear trend over the past 30 years has been toward smaller aircraft being deployed on ever longer ranges. Boeing got this right twice on the long haul front, first with the 777 and then with the 787. But somehow they never saw the same thing coming in the SA segment. Rather than all the NMA twin aisle agony they should have launched a large SA with 5000nm range and room for grown. Fusalage diameter slightly bigger than the A32x for wider aisles and more overhead. Cabin altitude of 4000′. Aim for a shrink size of 180 max, stretch of 280.

    To be fair I don’t think Airbus did either, they built the A380, committed to the XLR late and they lucked into the A220.

    • It’s possibly only a temporary thing. The industry might not be able to keep breaking up the hub-hub model indefinitely, at least not everywhere. Here in the UK airports and airspace are pretty full. Emirate already runs numerous A380s from numerous airports all over the UK daily, often several flights per day at some airports. Replacing all that with A321XLRs simply isn’t an option unless we build more airports. And here in crowded Blighty, getting a new airport built is basically a non-starter (same for much of Europe). We’ve been trying to get another runway somewhere near London for decades. In that sense A380 is a big success for the one airline that has really aimed to exploit it’s potential to the maximum possible extent.

      So the balance will be decided on where the majority of passengers journeys begin and end, and whether or not those countries have the airport capacity or open space in which to permit more flights. China has a lot of people, and a whole heap of space to build airports. Nor do they don’t have to worry about public inquiries either…

      A good observsation of yours re 777, 787. It was odd that they didn’t extend that to thinking that a good single aisle might do to the 787 what the 787 was supposed to do to the A380. And perhaps here we are. If Boeing had done that thinking, they’d not have built the MAX that’s for sure.

      I think Airbus did do that thinking, or at least saw that they might one day have to think along those lines and allowed for it, back in the 1980s. The original A320 was always unnecessarily leggy, high up, designed from the very beginning to make new bigger engines and a fuselage stretch fairly straight forward.

      • Boeings argument for the B787 was that excess air traffic was created by the hub and spoke model (eg up to 3 flights whereas point to point replaced 2 or 3 flights with one. Its a complicated equation.

        • ME3: A two back to back spoked hubs model connected by Addidas H2H network. 🙂

          In every spoke you collect traffic for all the spokes in the opposite hub. That leads to N times more traffic per spoke than in a P2P flight scheme. i.e. traffic volume is 20..30 times higher than Boeing’s super efficient (not) P2P model.
          787 vs A380 capacity does not reflect that.
          A321XLR vs A380 capacity goes in the proper direction.

      • Britain has plenty of disused and underused runways. Even in SE England there’s Manston, Biggin Hill, North Weald, Lyneham, and Alconbury. Too short for widebodies, but most low cost airlines don’t have those anyway. Though there are also a couple of disused longer runways (Thurleigh and Upper Hayford).

        But government policy favours big hubs because they’re ignoring the real needs of the industry and going with what BA wants instead.

  10. Boeing lost its nerve. Or rather, Boeing chose to trade its nerve for cash flow. After Boeing’s “failure to execute” on the 787, the Board and executives are hunkering down in their cost-cutting model.

    The commercial airplane business is demanding. Scott is right. This business was called the sporty game for a reason. As long as Boeing stays in bunker-mode, playing defense on the MAX and everything else, it is just begging the market to pass it by.

    Imagine what they could have invested in, with the $70 billion they used to buy back shares.

    • The problems with the 787 and vast capital put into fixing it seem to the background to the 737 issues .
      Company executives indicated a completely new 737 project was to follow the 787 . After the first sign of problems, the NSA project was delayed to about 2011-12. The NSA was expected to be in service around 2019 or so
      Then the Airbus neo was announced and of course Boeing in public was saying it changes nothing . Once its customers were looking to buy them a rushed decision to develop the max was made, which was even sped up to give EIS 6 months ahead of earlier estimates.

      • “After the first sign of problems, the NSA project was delayed to about 2011-12. The NSA was expected to be in service around 2019 or so”

        By their own words:
        Boeing had no real idea how to best the A320 while being forced to adhere to the current certification environment. ( One that the A320 conforms to by and large.)
        Boeing had no real idea how to produce such a frame in a cost effective way and in the numbers required.

        NSA was a mirage. FUD to fend of the NEO.

  11. Boeing made a similar mistake with the 777X as Airbus did with the A380. Both models turned out to be too big not to fail because a new generation of more efficient smaller aircraft came to the market: 787, A350 and the various NEOs.

    What airline managers came to realize is that it is more profitable to operate two A321neo than say a single A330neo or 787, provided you don’t need the range. For the A321neo is very economical to operate while offering a lot more flexibility. For example with two A321neo you can offer more frequency with lower direct operating costs, especially when off season or during slower periods.

    This new equation is hurting the widebody category where Boeing used to dominate. Nowadays even in the upper end of the widebody category Boeing is struggling because Airbus has a newer design with the A350 that offers similar advantages in the widebody market as the A321neo is offering in the narrowbody market: efficiency and flexibility. As does the 787 for that matter.

    It was a totally different dynamic back then when Boeing came up with the 747 to replace the 707 and DC-8. The larger 747 brought a new level of efficiency at a time of high demand and rapid expansion with little competition other than the Lockheed L-1011 and McDonnell-Douglas DC-10, and this obscure upstart called Airbus with its big twin A300.

    Times are changing and either you adapt or disappear. Boeing say that their number one priority is safety. Now we all know that this is not true. Or at least was not true until now. So it’s time for Boeing to put their priorities at the right place.

    Explain the situation to your shareholders and make a convincing case for the flying public that the MAX is indeed as safe as any other aircraft in history. And as soon as your engineers are done with the MAX 2.0 put them at work on its urgently needed replacement.

    • The A380 was a “good” mistake, just as the A340. The 777X will probably be a bad one, just like the NG or the MD11. What’s the difference?

      To begin with, every company should in my opinion strive to achieve a 2:1 success ratio in their product development. So by bringing two new products to market, one of them would be successful, while the other would be a failure. If you aim too high and avert risk, you will die, because your more adventurous competitors will some day steal all your customers with their more innovative products. You take too high risks and fail too often, you simply go bankrupt.

      Now the good fails are those which teach you something. Like the Apple Newton. He was an important fail on the path to the iPhone. The A380 made the A350 possible. Very interesting in this context is the A330/A340 story, where you have one fail and one success shoulder to shoulder.

      Why is the NG and the 777X a bad fail? First of all because they do not offer a new quality for their users. They are not innovative, only try to prolong a success story. And they hold little to no potential for future products.

      In my view the 787 is a great new product. But here Boeing has made another major mistake. They designed a revolutionary plane and at the same time the way they produce planes. That’s been two big steps in one. If you look at the chip industry, they either have a new architecture or a new chip design. Tic, Toc. Or right step and left step. They tried a big jump with everything in the air at the same time, and fell hard.

      Now would be the time to come forth with a solution for the single aisle market that does Tic. ONLY Tic. So use all existing technology and infrastructure, including engines, and design a new single aisle plane asap. It could include most of the 787 cockpit, a slightly larger fuselage, and implement all that can be learned from other planes, own or foreign.

      This would be a kind of stop gap. Not primarily for Boeing but for their customers! With such a plane Boeing would be able to heal the wounds and finally pay the 737 a well deserved farewell.

      Once that plane is up in the air, you think Toc. Because only then it’s time for new materials, new propulsion, a change in production system,…

      • This is a brilliant post Gundolf!

        What you say about the 737, 777 and 787 is a fitting description for what Boeing has become. Indeed they don’t innovate anymore, they only try to perpetuate. And when they do innovate they go overboard.

        If the Boeing we once knew and loved no longer exists it is because it has been taken over by evil forces that ultimately destroyed its spirit and annihilated its soul.

        • Yes, the men who have run Boeing for maybe the last couple of decades were more concerned with stock price and making “their company” after what they “learned” in MBA School. But as far as the 777X, time will tell if it becomes prolific. A number of planes started out slow in sales, only later to get legs. Maybe Boeing was wrong to let Alan Mulally slip away.

  12. So what’s the next wing? CFRP for sure. 36m with split winglets that is slightly bigger than the A321 to lift 110t? A 42m folding wing to fit in 36m gates to lift 130t? Or a 48m wing for code D gates to lift 150t?

    • If the B757,s and 767’s are gone how many D-gate slots will come available? Won’t push the A321 much beyond its current size, maybe the 48m of the B757 (an 225 seat A322 vs the 206 of the 321), the 321LR’s MTOW of 97T and XLR wing with 3500Nm range.

      See a definite requirement in 5-10 years for an TA with ~275 seat (2 class and Y+) with 5000Nm range for mostly shorter haul operations. OEW should not exceed 100T. GEnxMk2 engines could do, thrust 55-60KLb.

  13. I agree with you Keejse.Perhaps a high bypass geared LEAP to 40klbs with a light (AlLi?) fuse and high aspect carbon wings ( folding?) to get to critical size/range say 250 pax at 5knm.
    If they can do that then it should be a winner.The rest of MAX will then be ok for a decade.

    • No . A geared engine is out for GE . Thats ‘completely new’.
      High aspect wings arent needed for the ‘short range’ mentioned either, thats adding structural weight that doesnt have enough payback in fuel burn

  14. Qantas has just posted it is going to take 3000 man hours to replace the cracked pickle forks on the Boeing 737s I shudder to think the costs to Boeing or Qantas for this pickle up.

  15. I think they’re so late to the game, that if they launched a program tomorrow, with a ‘real’ development timeframe, problems (tech and ‘new’ production methods, ramp-up, lost/slow sales of current products – ramp-down); Airbus would steal the profitable/available market with already flying or soon to fly aircraft derivatives during the development years (a330 sales during the 787 Dec as example). I really think it may be too late for an NMA, and too early for a FSA as engine tech is already mostly launched… But agree… If they don’t… Then what DO THEY DO?

  16. Short term results won of longer term strategy.

    The docile greedy markets were educated that it’s not about assetts, profit & debt, but about accounting blocks, EBIT, buy backs and free cash flow.

    The ones who told you, cashed your naive money & retired.

  17. 747 a Dowdy Old Maid?

    I would suggest a change to more proper technical descriptions of the status vs hyperbole.

    Go spend some time with Bjorn and up the level of discourse instead of the Trump like lowism.

    And as a note, I have yet to see one with gray hair and a walker limping through the sky.

    We all run our course, Scott should be even more aware of it than many.

  18. What should be done now is a turboprop single aisle, all metal is fine, keep it cheap to make it a success, especially if the economy gets down. Comac and Irkut should have done it to get over the edge, that chance was lost, now they need to be very cheap = garbage.

    Boeing should pull it out of the hat.

    • 2 × Europrop TP400-D6 turboprop, 8,200 kW (11,000 hp) each as used on the Airbus A400M should produce a nice A320/B737 sized 80 ton MTOW aircraft that will, cruise at Mach 0.8

  19. Engines are reaching the limits of efficiency, therefore its less worthwhile waiting for significant improvements.
    There is a high risk of getting the production system of the future wrong, what happens if you go for a carbon fuselage production system that turns into a dead end? This has almost certainly already happened for both the A350 and the B787, revolution is always quickly followed by something along the same lines but better.
    You can’t just wait for 2030 and expect to perfect a miraculous new product system that no one else can do just as well.
    The trick is not to respond to demand, but to anticipate it, my money would be on the smallest 8 abreast medium range airliner and the largest single asle possible and then cascade the tech into the smaller and longer range models.

    • We will see the introduction of heat recuperation and intercooling and maybe even reheat. Heat exchanger fabrication techniques have improved leaps and bounds. There is probably another 30% left. Electric powered wheels so an aircraft can push back and begin the taxiing while it starts up its engines on the way looks promising as well as shut down sooner. Will probably improve turnaround times. Been around 20 years and hardly adds weight.

  20. Were it not for Bombardier committing to (more like needing) the GTF for the CSeries, Airbus would probably not have not launched the A320 re-engine program which, in turn, forced the 737 re-engine program, and also Embraer’s Ejets re-engine. So, it is ironic that the company that started this unwanted domino effect is no longer in the commercial aviation sector.

    • Mitsubishi Spacejet was the first manufacturer to commit to the GTF, ahead of the Cseries.
      Pratt had been working on geared turbofans with its partners for years, Im sure they had A320 in mind as a possible project. You seem to have forgotten that the A320 Neo has TWO engine choices, not just the GTF
      Remember the CFM56 was an orphan engine – its core came out of a military project- and it first was went on the DC8 re enginning before being selected as an engine for the 737

      • Yes, MHI “launched” the GTF but 12 years it is still not certified. There would no NEO were it not for the CSeries. And because of the NEO, there is the MAX.

        • Leap engine was announced before Neo, and it’s first customer was Comac.
          So it’s just wrong to say no Neo with Cseries. Both major suppliers were developing replacements for their long time engines .
          Stevie Wonder could see a re enginned plane on the cards

          • Airbus and Boeing never had any intention of re-engining. They were both planning new narrow bodies, so doing a re-engine would have been wasted money. And as others have already pointed out, it was only after American placed an Airbus order that Boeing rushed to commit to re-engine the 737.

          • Boeing said it was going to develop a NSA to replace the 737.
            Airbus only said they were doing a major improvements package ( A320E) around 2005 which would do 5%, no all new plane had been signalled. Clearly that wasnt enough to ‘excite’ airlines , but with a new engine that would jump to 15%.
            Since the new engines ( both GTF and Leap) had been announced before this , was a logical for Airbus to commit to a variant with 15% improved fuel burn etc.
            Here its clear the Eggs ( engines) came before the Chickens

          • Airbus was never planning to to re-engine for basic, business reasons:
            – they had a backlog extending for years
            – the A320 was outselling the 737

            As I have been saying all along, were it not not for the CSeries there would be no NEO, and no NEO = no MAX…. (quotes from Leeham):

            “It was the annual media day in 2010 that Airbus declared war on the Bombardier CSeries.”

            “Bombardier had won a major order from Republic Airways Holdings, which then owned Frontier Airlines, an exclusive A319/320 operator. Republic ordered 40 CS300s and optioned 40 more. It was this order that spurred Airbus’ wrath. It was this order that would push Airbus into launching the re-engined A320neo family.”

            “When Airbus was about to land American Airlines with a huge order for the A320 family, both the ceo and neo, Boeing’s hand was forced. Within 48 hours, Jim McNerney, Albaugh’s boss, made the decision to go forward with what would become the MAX.”

          • @Josep

            Airbus and P&W were looking at GTF-powered A320s some two years before the launch of the Cseries.

            Now, the re-engining of the A320, actually fit very well the Airbus modus operandi of a continuous improvement philosophy. Of course, the enhanced A320 (A320E) with Sharklets, increaseed payload/range, offering a 4 percent reduction in fuel burn and significantly reduceing take-off and landing speeds, also fit nicely the continuous improvement philosophy of Airbus.

            In contrast to Boeing, short-termism is not something Airbus has subscribed to. Airbus continuously modernises its commercial aircraft range, while “short-termism” does not allow for the scale of investments needed and is, therefore, forcing Boeing to only upgrade its aircraft range when it has to. The differences between these two companies — both of which are effectively state corporations — highlight the relative outcomes of on the one hand a strictly private sector company, Boeing, which despite its cyclical government contracts is shareholder driven, and Airbus, a public-private corporation with very different economic expectations and which is now outperforming its private sector counterpart.

            Of course, it’s not unlikely that Boeing, if it continues to struggle, will come hat in hand to the U.S. government soon for a taxpayer-funded bailout. Given all that, Boeing, beyond almost any other American company, is effectively a public entity with private profits.

            P&W touts geared turbofan version of Airbus A320 as early as 2011 to gain two year advantage over potential new Boeing narrowbody

            By Guy Norris

            5 December 2006

            Pratt & Whitney and Airbus are studying a modified version of the A320 powered by the geared turbofan (GTF) for service entry as early as 2011, offering Airbus a potential market advantage of up to two years over any competing new single-aisle design from Boeing.

            Industry sources say the proposed A320 development is being studied – a move which, if confirmed, could force Boeing to accelerate its 737 replacement studies currently aimed at the 2013 timeframe. It could also provide Airbus with a quicker solution than any all-new designs being considered under its Next Generation Single-Aisle (NGSA) A320 successor studies.

            The venture also raises questions about the continuing solidarity of the International Aero Engines consortium, in which P&W is a leading partner with Rolls-Royce. While both companies publicly continue to support their commitment to IAE, P&W has not ruled out going forward with a revised partnership if the GTF concept goes ahead.


            It’ s also worth mentioning that IAE International Aero Engines joint venture company — where P&W was a member — had offered the IAE V2500SF SuperFan engine for the A340 in 1987.


          • Bottom line – Airbus itself says that the CSeries forced them to launch the NEO.

  21. What about the 4000NM range B737 MAX 8ERX made by fusing MAX 9 wings, centre section and undercarriage with MAX 9 fuselage to get an increase MTOW and range? Given Boeings more realistic range quotations it might be a competitor with the A321LR or A320XLR.

  22. To me it appears that Boeing has completely lost their way. They have forgotten why they are making planes. They have even lost it on how they do it. And with the MAX they even forgot what they do.

    Boeing is in a deep existential crisis, so much is clear. And the decision makers are neither innovators nor idealists.

    This is the real reason for the MAX crisis and why they need to reset the entire business.

    About 2-5% of all people are innovators and idealists. So there should be plenty to find among the ranks or Boeing. They need to replace the careerists, money shovellers and administrators at the top asap.

    Then Boeing needs to go deep and grow new roots. They need to talk to their biggest critics (both inside and outside the company), and then look at what good they can do to the world. How can they improve the life of passengers and crews, how can they play their part in saving our climate. Once they found their bearings, then they can decide which planes need to be designed and how they can be built.

  23. Not without a more powerful engine they aren’t.There are those that believe refanning an existing core is an all new engine.who knows – we will see.
    But in any event a 322LR would require a new MLG ( pavement loading) so it’s probably gone as far as it can go ( but it’s pretty good as it is (321xlr).
    It’s very likely that Boeing will discuss such matters when the MAX is back in service.But not before.

    • Phil
      >But in any event a 322LR would require a new MLG ( pavement loading)

      Are you saying that if the a32x started to exceed the 101t of the a321 xor significantly the pavement loading per wheel would start to exceed what is available at many airports limiting its flexibility?

      PS – I was wondering about the 123t 757, turns out it has tandem dual wheels, so this is not an issue.

  24. The US outperforms in terms of creativity.

    One core of this performance has been a rich, lavish university system funded by defense dollars — a country club were kids could play at will with millions of dollars of equipment and then make up crazy uses for it that n0 one could imagine. That system is now being strangled by the corporate world and mantras of efficiency, effectiveness and excellence (destroy the competition!). It’s all about STEM fields and applied science and not the imagination (starve the liberal arts!).

    Meanwhile, the business world began turning a profit by contracting out jobs, laying off workers, denying benefits, and strangling labor. The 737 Max is a product of this ethos. The Max is an embarrassment and nakedly exposes the worst of us.

    There is a can do spirit in America. We believe that with enough energy and grit every problem can be solved. Our movies and entertainment tell us that. Ask Capt. Kirk, the ultimate, supremacist “human” being in the universe. Meanwhile, progress, constant expansion and capitalism, all rolled into one are our religion.

    So, it seems unpatriotic to accept realistically defeat and to say that there is really nothing Boeing can do right now, that its days are numbered and that the problems are even worse than they appear. The 737NG is presented as a success story, but how successful is it? How much does it cost to operate? What about those trim wheels?

    Airbus got us with fly by wire. It got me. I didn’t believe in it or like it. But does the issue of training from one Airbus to another pose the same problem as it does going form the NG to the Max? I thought their over-reliance on computers was a bit like the early development of the internet in France through its visionary but fantastically failed system, the Minitel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minitel). But my American nationalism and exceptionalism got the best of me. I thought we were always going to win, like we won with the Internet and with the iPhone, that everyone has and wants.

    I thought we were going to win as European aerospace companies were hampered by regulations, strong unions, universal healthcare, and even paying out 80% salaries and one or two years of benefits for unemployment. Who knew that engineers with comfort and security and a strong union behind them might speak up at crucial moments and be a force for helping management make careful but better and wiser decisions for the long term?

    Boeing might survive. But it will become smaller. It might even have to meld with other companies as it has in the past … like McDonnell Douglass, which, it seems, still survives under another name. So much for the social Darwinist notion of survival of the fittest. That’s not what happened.

    What Boeing needs is radical and visionary leadership — a Steve Jobs. The US used to have them, drifting around the outskirts of its elite, once lavish, liberal arts laden universities; thinking things up. No more Bill Gates school of vision, though — please. Or maybe what Boeing needs is a good resurgence of radical labor that can steer its greedy, short-sighted leadership in a direction that won’t continue to betray us all.

    • RealSteve great Macro piece :D. I’ve been thinking about it. No quick fixes around the corner. But a direction could be, government stepping in to protect national interest. In return for a suitable bail out, assign strong leadership that is paid a fixed high salary and is being tasked to secure long term health and innovation of the company. Instead of looking good at the next Quaterly & cashing stock priced based salaries. Stock owners have no long term interest these days & are steered by perceptions rather than basic logic.


  25. The 737 Max will push Boeing to a clear #2 position. The 777X will sell ok, but if Airbus can somehow make 10 abreast work.. its done. 787-9 and 10 are the last dominant platforms Boeing offers. If Airbus launchs an A222-500 the 737-800 MAX will be crushed. Perhaps Airbus will offer the standard P&W engines and also offer a LEAP option with the A220-500.

    • Good luck with certifying the 777X. I wonder where they cheated. EASA will check.

      A350 should not use 10-abreast. A350 makes no sense on short range. There is a reason why A330neo is ordered twice as much.

      787-10 is useless. 787-9 can’t beat A330-900.

      If Boeing can get Embraer, the E2 will be the best Boeing could offer.

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