Topic of the Week: WWBD?

Airbus, Boeing

That’s the question. What will Boeing do? The Airbus A320neo has been a hot seller at the Paris Air Show this year, and even American is said to be in talks with Airbus about buying. (This sounds like an effort to get Boeing off its butt, but that’s just me.) So what will Boeing do? Will it go for a 737 with new engines? An all new 797 to replace the 737? If it wants to keep winning narrowbody orders, it has to do something. The question is . . . what?

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26 comments on “Topic of the Week: WWBD?

  1. So far, no major defections from Boeing customers. The one I’m glad didn’t go through is the Qatar Airways/NEO deal. I think Qatar wants an aircraft the size of the CSeries but with the CASM of the A320NEO. Depends on the ego of AAB, but I think we’ll see a CSeries order soon from QR.

    As I commented yesterday on the E190 story, larger aircraft are just better for CASM.

    I wouldn’t mind if Boeing first get the 787 into service before worrying about a new narrowbody.

  2. I think if Boeing can finally accomplish the ANA delivery of the 787 and doesn’t hit any major snags in the 747-8I/8F test (oh and if the US government doesn’t try to force them to shutter the SC facility) they will have the engineering resources to move to a 797 using lessons learned from the 787/747-8 programs. A re-engine of the 737 isn’t easy because of the ground profile of that aircraft. You can’t just put new pylons on it and hang the geared engines Airbus is using on the A320NEO. There just isn’t clearance for it.

  3. Revamping the 737 sounds faster then coming up with a whole new airplane. How delayed is the 787?

    And just because Airbus got a lot of orders doesn’t mean they will sell all those planes. Unless all those orders came with payment in full, those numbers and the airlines who ordered them will drop over the coming years.

    1. It’s too late for them to re-engine the 737. If they do, it will arrive 2-3 years after the 320neo, so it would be better for airlines to either keep their older 737s or switch to the 320. A new aircraft would offer larger benefits that may be worth the (even longer) wait.

  4. Unfortunately, I think Boeing ended up allowing Airbus to define the competitive terms of this race. Not for nothing, I felt they were sitting fairly well going into the Paris show. Now, I think they have got to respond and they have got to do it quickly.

    I think we’ll see an all new airliner with 2 engine choices and at least a semi-composite fuselage.

    And I think entry into service indications will move to 2017/2018.

    But only because the announcements on the A350-1000 pretty much allow Boeing to sit on that for a while.

    1. The adventerous Boeing of old went away when Boeing bought McDonaldDouglas and allowed the same management team/bean counters that ran MD into the ground run Boeing. Since then the bold initiatives we used to see have dried up and all we are left with is incompetence and delay. Mulally should never have been allowed to go to Ford. Just sayin’.

  5. Just a guess, but I think Boeing will likely choose to replace the 737 with a clean sheet aircraft and move its size up a bit. The replacement family will start in the 135 to 150 seats range on the low end and go up to 225 to 250 on the high side. In essence starting between the 737-7 and -8 and ending slightly smaller than the 767-300. Moving up slightly will fill in a niche that is currently missing from today’s aircraft portfolio while keeping its presence in the current sweet spot of 150 seat aircraft. I can also see the larger aircraft possibly having extended / long range versions able to go as far as 4500 to 5500 nm.

    It seems that aircraft manufacturers have a habit of sizing their products somewhat differently from their competition instead of competing precisely head to head.

    It seems the 100 to 150 seat market is very crowded with CSeries, EJets, Chinese and Japanese entrants along with 737-7s and A319s. Again, this is all just a guess.

    1. This ^

      I think this is really what Boeing needs to do for their new narrowbody. However, I’m not entirely sure that they’re committed to replacing the 757’s role with one plane, based on what I’ve read. I think though that by launching such an aircraft, they’ll gain hundreds of orders from both Delta and United, who both need to replace their large fleets of 757s, while also allowing for fleet commonality with the eventual replacement of their entire narrowbody fleets, because the aircraft will span such a large size. Such an aircraft as well, if it has extended range variants, could even open up new transatlantic routes for which the 757 currently doesn’t have the range. Such an aircraft is in Boeing’s best interests.

  6. I think it’ll be a new design. They have learned valuable lessons in composites from the 787 and should be able to make a great new airplane. And with Airbus committed to the neo for some years to come, Boeing should be able to reap the benefits of a new plane for a few years. Also, with big names like Steven Udvar-Hazy throwing his support at Boeing for a clean sheet design, they already have a potential customer who would likely buy a LOT of planes to launch the program.

  7. I agree with Ryan. Boeing will replace the 737, there’s no reason not to. They have more information and technology. Airbus created the 320NEO to try and boost sales without much effort, Boeing will replace the 737 with a new design that destroys the 320NEO. I promise.

  8. Can you explain why airlines, in this case United, allow planes to sit overnight and then right before morning find that oops there is a mechanical problem. So you sit for an hour and a half while it is repaired which causes you to miss your connecting flight and you sit in an airport For 9 hours because all the other flights are full!!! Can’t airport personnel get an early start and make sure the plane is working so the day is not screwed up for lots of people. Well, United this is the second time you have done this to me in less than 2 months so – bye bye you just lost 3 customers.

  9. I think Boeing will opt for a new plane. But since the NEO is doing so well they could possibly do both. They did the 787 (new) and the 747I (updated) at the same time. Then customers could opt for re-engined 737 if time is of the essence or wait for an all new aircraft. Heck maybe they’ll just bring back the Sonic Cruiser!

    1. Well the 787 and 747I don’t serve the same market, but at the same time both the 757 and 737 could use an update to have 2 new types or variations at the same time.

  10. I never did understand what the 757 offered to airlines. As for passengers, it is merely a stretched 737-no more comfort. Boeing should look into a partnership with Embraer which is moving into larger aircraft.

    1. The 757 can be used for heavy domestic markets and small international markets since it can be ETOPS rated. The 757 has a range almost twice what the 737 Classic offers (remember, NG wasn’t developed yet). Plus it fits perfectly between the 150 seater 737 and the 250 seater 767.

    2. The 757 is one of the most underrated aircraft there are – it is quite efficient on medium length flights with medium capacity, especially the -200. Just look at how much DL and UA use them for trans-continental flights.

  11. Boeing should put forward an all-new 737 based on the technology the 787 has pioneered. In the short term, it will hurt, in the long term, it will do brilliantly. The new 737 (797?) should be a 4 aircraft series in the 120-250 seat range. The largest aircraft should be a 737-900ER/757 replacement with some more range.

    If Boeing can manage to have a re-engined 737 going at the same time, that would be a good option as well – although whether it would be economically feasible is another thing. Either way, Boeing needs to ‘bite the bullet’ otherwise they will lose out big time here.

  12. The Box on the re-engine program for the 737 is indeed the underwing clearance, and changing that on the existing design is painful. A higher SFC engine needs a higher bypass ratio, and that means a bigger fan, which there is no place to put on the existing aircraft. The CFM engines used on the a320 family do in fact have larger fans than the 737 variants.

    However my own analysis is that I suspect A320NEO customers are going to be disappointed unless Airbus has already taken a meat axe to the A320NEO pricing to get these orders. Experience is that EADS tends to overpromise and under deliver, so I will be surprised if the NEO ends with more than a 4-5% improvement in Direct Operating Cost.

    Until the 787 program is squared away, I don’t think Boeing has engineering resources to do much with the 737 program. I also suspect that a 737 replacement based upon 787 and next generation engine technology will turn out to be an A320NEO killer. The NEO is really a place keeper for Airbus.

    So look for a 797 annoucement toward the end of the year. Hopefully we won’t get a repeat performance of the 787 fiasco, and hopefully some new blood at Boeing has replaced the Stonecipher bean counter mentality that ran MD into the ground in search of margins…

    My thoughts.

  13. How about a 160 to 220 seat narrow body plane that has great high/hot performance, can go ETOPS to Hawaii and has great efficiency.

    They could call such a mythical plane, the 757.

  14. I would like to see Boeing come up with a new “clean sheet” design for a single aisle aircraft. They can start by giving it a wider fuselage than the Airbus a320 family. Boeing can re-work the 737,757 families all they want but it still doesn’t address the fact that the 320 cabin is 10 inches wider than the 737,757 cabin. As a passenger I would much rather fly in an a320, or an Embraer E jet (E-170,175,190,195) than a Boeing or Bombardier single aisle aircraft.
    The 757s were fine once. The ones I have been in recently on UA were all very long in the tooth and showing their age. United really needs to retire these museum pieces. The problem is with what do they replace them with, and how to pay for them ?

    1. I know that A320s are a bit wider than Boeing aircraft (only 7 inches actually) but I don’t really notice the difference when flying them.

      The interior of the United 757s are showing their age, but Delta is installing new seats and cabins in all of theirs, and they are doing fine and are among my favorite aircraft to fly on. Heck, the few old NW DC9s that are still around look like they could fly for 10 more years. It’s up to the airline to decide on cabins and refurbishment.

  15. The incompetence of building the B787 has knocked the stuffing out of Boeing, over promising just to beat airbus was simply not good management, the first B787 was held together by a few rivets and glue, it could have fell apart on the ground never mind in the air, and it took years to finally get it all together…
    However the lessons learnt from building the B787 will give Boeing a chance to make a very good cleansheet 797, and get it right from the start, and to market quicker than even Boeing realise…2019!

  16. It wouldnt surprise me if they do a NEO to the 737 concurrently with some work on the 777 to compete better with the A350, before working on a 737 replacement with an EIS of mid 2020’s.

    The order book for the 737 is healthy and it gives a bit more time for new technologies to be introduced

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