By Scott Hamilton
Feb. 3, 2021, © Leeham News: At long last, Boeing seems to be moving in the right direction on its next new airplane.
Aviation Week reported this week Boeing appears to be developing a third member of the New Midmarket Airplane (NMA), dubbed the NMA-5X. The NMA-5X is sized directly across from the Airbus A321neo family. It’s the third member of the NMA family that was missing throughout Boeing’s struggles to form a business model for the NMA.
The current concept is also what Boeing wanted to do in 2011 when Airbus forced its hand with the huge American Airlines order for the A319/321ceo/neo. Boeing launched the 737 MAX instead.
In August, LNA suggested an “NMA Lite” is Boeing’s next opportunity. In June, LNA wrote, “A new airplane is needed to replace the 737-9/10, which is outsold by the A321neo by an embarrassing three or four to one margin, depending on the measuring point. There is the Middle of the Market gap above the 737-9/10 that still needs filling. So, a new airplane family from 189 seats (the 737-9) to 250 seats (767-300ER) and a 4,000a-4,500nm range is needed. In other words, an ‘NMA Lite.’”
In Boeing’s NMA concept, the NMA-6 and NMA-7 were above the A321, not competitive with it. The nominal configurations were 225, 270 and 200 seats respectively.
The three-member NMA family directly takes on the A321neo and fills the gap above. There remains some overlap with the 787-8. The -8’s range of 7,300nm far exceeds the NMA-7. But an LNA analysis several years ago concluded there were only 35% of the -8 routes that were more than 5,000nm. The lighter NMA-7 is more economical than the heavier -8.