Boeing outlines new NMA/797-X2

Boeing has outlined where it thinks it might go with the New Mid-Market Aircraft dubbed NMA or 797-X at the Singapore Airshow.

Having decided to go back to the drawing board in January, the Singapore Airshow has allowed Boeing to be a little more specific on where it thinks it needs to be.

For one the 787-3 – which was running the rumour mill wild for a day or two, that, as I expected, is not going to happen.

What Boeing have seen but don’t quite want to admit because it would do existing sales and potential orders no good at all, is the need to ditch the 737MAX and replace the 757 at the same time.

Reading between the lines – and that is the art of the game with these ‘revelations’, you have to look as much for what is not being said, as much as what is.

The zone of initial interest for Boeing is the A321neo family. The fact that it’s cleaning up everywhere and Airbus are confident they can sell 1,000 aircraft just in the XLR variant over ten years – they’re already half way there – has Boeing rattled.

There’s a real sense of feeling around the discussions I’ve read and heard that Boeing sees the MAX as dead – nobody has said it, nobody would dare, but it’s not going to see another iteration or development and the sooner its delivered and over with, the happier Boeing will be to see the back of it.

So there new target and this is initial – and that means more will come from whatever gets developed, is a 200-240 seat aircraft with a range of 4,700nm. In other words a direct and immediate competitor with the A321. What that little word ‘initial’ means is that they see building and developing the bigger version first, to compete with the A321, then the smaller version in the 150-199 seat range can come later, replacing the MAX.

Boeing say the old NMA was good for some airlines but not enough of them to make it think “we have to do this now”, saying it just didn’t cross enough lines to pass the test.

They also said they’d learnt a great deal about what airlines wanted in terms of purchase prices, leasing costs, and day to day operational expenses, and that the “new” NMA would very much work with those.

So what we’re looking at is a long single aisle, probably bigger but no heavier than the A321XLR, capable of being shrunk to accommodate a new family of smaller 737 replacements. And all by 2026-27.