Airbus made the last day of the Dubai Air Show 2019 a little more interesting yesterday.
The company is looking at how to proceed with its post-A320 single aisle and is giving itself a full ten years to design it and get it right.
New technologies, materials and a radical approach aren’t being ruled out.
This is a milestone and it’s going to put Boeing in a spot it’s been dreading.
Boeing was warned in 2012/13 when it committed to the MAX, having been planning a new single aisle, that it was missing an opportunity and not seeing the big picture.
If it had developed a new single aisle then it would have carried it through the 2020’s into the early 2030’s, forcing Airbus to develop one first, then have Boeing jump it technology wise in the 2040’s period, putting it ahead for years.
The 787 costs and over runs made them balk at the idea of a second new ground-up product line, and they didn’t want to give any ground to Airbus with its Neo project for the A320.
And they might have gotten away with it, until the MAX grounding set them back financially, politically and in reputation.
Compounding the problem is the 797-X, if Boeing go ahead with it then a single aisle is out for another decade. Airbus will run off with existing A320 orders – and they are – and then offer up a technology jump in the single aisle segment, which will scoop up every order going leaving the aged MAX a weight around Boeing’s neck.
It could be 2035-40 before they can match it at the earliest, and they’ll be lucky to have anything that’s technologically any better, and in that market it needs to be transformative.
So the 797-X if it’s killed off will at least pave the way for a new single aisle ready to match Airbus in 2030. And that is far more profitable and important in the long run.
Airbus will take the lead briefly, already have in the single aisle market – but Boeing can match or exceed it – if it does it now.
Of course the 797-X isn’t going to have a competitor. And Boeing might just prefer the easy fast buck than doing anything difficult.