Boeing rethinking what its next all-new airplane will be
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Boeing has hit the refresh button on development of its next new airplane, as its new CEO re-evaluates its aircraft development pipeline amid a focus on the safe return of the 737 MAX.
“We’re in the airplane development business and we’re going to stay in the airplane development business,” David Calhoun, CEO of the Chicago-based planemaker, said during a quarterly earnings call on Wednesday. “We’re going to keep looking at what the next one needs to be.”
Calhoun’s comments came as he and other Boeing executives made it clear that development of the proposed “New Mid-market Airplane” (NMA) has been put on hold — if not shelved completely — in favor of a refresh to the company’s commercial aircraft development pipeline.
The NMA concept, which Boeing has worked on since at least 2015, was for a clean-sheet twin-aisle jet with seats for 200 to 270 passengers and a range of about 5,750 miles. The aircraft has been imagined as a replacement for longer-haul Boeing 757s, as well as for larger Boeing 767s in markets where airlines do not need the added capabilities of the Boeing 787.
Calhoun declined to commit to what Boeing’s next clean-sheet jet will look like, except to say that it will build on the development work from the NMA project.
One thing is clear: Boeing will not develop its next jet based on pressure from Airbus’ recently launched A321XLR, a longer-range version of the A321neo.
“Doing them fast and doing them in response [to the A321]… is not what you do when you’re developing the next airplane,” Calhoun told reporters. “It’s critical we get it right.”
In addition to the A321XLR, Airbus also has staked out a spot against a potentially larger Boeing NMA model with its A330neo family. Delta has ordered 35 A330-900s, with four in-service at the end of December, to replace some of its 767s.
American Airlines and United Airlines, two potential NMA customers, have already jumped for the A321XLR. Both have ordered 50 of the new jet with eyes on using them to replace their longer-range 757s.
However, United commercial chief Andrew Nocella said in December that the airline would continue to consider the NMA to replace its 767s when Boeing “further refines the mission capabilities and details” of the proposed plane.
Delta has yet to commit to a full replacement of their 757 and 767 fleets and, as recently as December, its CEO Ed Bastian said they remained “interested” in the NMA.
Boeing will speak with all of its customers on their future aircraft needs before it decides on what its next clean-sheet plane will look like, said Calhoun. Once that decision is made, the planemaker aims to move forward on the new jet “very quickly.”
For the time being, Boeing’s focus is on returning the MAX to the skies. Earlier in January, the planemaker surprised airlines and analysts by moving back its return-to-service expectations to mid-2020. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines do not expect to have the plane flying again until after the summer peak as a result of the guidance update.
While the MAX is, and should be, Boeing’s priority — the widely expected decision on the NMA does not appear as if it was contingent on the progress re-certifying the narrow-body jet.
“If we had not had trouble with the MAX, I would have made the same decision with the NMA,” said Calhoun.
Featured image by Zach Wichter/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees