March 11, 2015
Boeing may benefit from listening to lessors demands for new mid-sized jet
No jet manufacturer can afford to stand still, and for Boeing it would appear they are reaching a crossroads in their next development venture. For a while now they have been looking at carrying out an extensive upgrade to their successful 777 model, with a schedule for that to take place in 2020. In the meantime Boeing will be releasing their ‘tweaked’ version of the 777 which has new aerodynamics enabling it to deliver a 2% improvement on fuel consumption. While this alone will give a fuel-burn saving of 2%, the option for the inclusion of 14 additional seats will see this rate increase to 5%. “We are making improvements to the fuel-burn performance and the payload/range and, at same time, adding features and functionality to allow the airlines to continue to keep the aircraft fresh in their fleets,” said 777 Chief Project Engineer and Vice President, Larry Schneider. Currently Boeing has a firm backlog of 273 777-300s, which will take approximately 2.7 years to deliver at the current rate of 8.3 units per month. It is estimated the firm will require orders for another 272 to see them through to the transition phase when the new 777x will be on offer from 2020.
However lessors, who also have their finger very firmly on the pulse, see demand for a mid-sized jet increasing as a replacement for the very popular, but now discontinued 757 model. Steven Udvar-Hazy, the CEO of Air Lease and well-respected as one of the airline industry’s most influential people, has made it clear he feels there will be demand for a new jet capable of seating between 200 and 250 passengers within the next 8 to 12 years. This time scale would afford Boeing room to improve the popular and profitable 737, and allow engine makers time to produce a more energy-efficient engine for it. Boeing told this week’s ISTAT gathering that it was discussing with customers about the production of an aircraft that would be slightly bigger than a 757 and which would offer 20 percent greater range, though they stopped short of saying if it preferred the narrow-body option, or would consider a small twin-aisle jet more likely.