Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Boeing ‘looks closely’ at 757-type market gap

Comco Boeing 757-22L (29304/870) N610G arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on February 24, 2015.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

Boeing sees a future market for a 757 replacement aircraft that would fit between the largest 737 MAX variant and the 787-8, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner said.

Briefing media at the Paris Air Show Tuesday, Conner agreed there was a gap in terms of a direct replacement for the 757. US major airlines that operate the 757 have expressed interest in seeing an all-new narrowbody developed for long, thin routes such as New York to Edinburgh, Scotland.

“We are looking at this market segment very closely,” Conner said. “We are talking to airlines about this and they want an airplane that is bigger and flies further than the 757. There is no such airplane at the moment—the Airbus A321LR does not address that need.

“But it’s kind of a unique need and what the customer really wants is something a bit bigger and which fits right between the 787-8 and where the MAX product line stops. It’s a relatively nice-size market place, that’s what I think.”

Boeing, however, is in no rush to launch another new aircraft. As Conner pointed out in his brief, the manufacturer has ramped up production rates while developing and putting into service new aircraft that include the MAX, 787 and 777X. The 787 is being produced at 10 aircraft per month—the highest rate ever of a widebody—at Boeing’s Washington state and South Carolina factories. The rate will increase to 14 per month by the end of the decade.

The 737, meanwhile is being built at a rate of 42 per month with plans to increase that to 47 in 2017, while the 777 rate continues at just over eight aircraft a month.

First delivery of the 737 MAX, fitted with more efficient CFM LEAP engines, is scheduled for the third quarter of 2017, while the first 777X, with GE GE9X engines, will be delivered in 2020.

“We have increased our production over the last five years by 60%. Since 2012 we have done nine rate increases and we are at the highest rate ever on three of our programs,” Conner said. “Some people have asked me what I think our theme of the show is and I think it’s executing while bringing on a tremendous amount of new programs.”

According to Boeing’s latest forecast, given Tuesday, the overall single-aisle market will continue to be the fast-growing segment, fueled by low-cost carriers and emerging markets, and will require 26,730 new aircraft by 2034, making up 70% of the market. Earlier in the day, lessor AerCap signed a contract at the show for 100 MAX 8s, while new Chinese carrier Ruili Airlines later a commitment to purchase 30 737 MAXs.

On the widebody side, Boeing forecasts the need for 8,830 new aircraft, but differs from Airbus in how that market will break down. Boeing believes there will be a continued shift in demand from very large aircraft—the Airbus A380/Boeing 747-8—to medium-size widebodies like the Airbus A350, 787 and 777.

“We really believe that the world continues to segment and go to point-to-point. With the 787’s unique capabilities we have opened up 55 new routes and that speaks to what people and airlines really want—a plane that takes them where they really want to go and goes direct,” Conner said.

“I’ve never said there was not a market for the very large aircraft, just that it’s a very limited market.”

Boeing Commercial Airplanes VP-marketing Randy Tinseth added that Boeing sees a market over the next 20 years for about 540 very large aircraft, about a third of those being freighters. “There’s a very clear trend. The bulk of the market is around the 787-size plane,” he said.

(Karen Walker - ATWOnline News)

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