After halting the development of the New Midsize Airplane (NMA) earlier this year, Boeing went back to studying a future passenger jet that could fill the niche between the 737 and the 787, The Wall Street Journal revealed on Wednesday.
According to people familiar with the matter, the planemaker is talking to some potential customers, mainly lessors, and also suppliers about a single-aisle aircraft with a capacity of 200 to 250 seats. The description coincides with the 757, narrowbody jet that was produced between 1983 and 2004 and is considered a “workhorse” by many of its operators.
The hypothetical plane would use more efficient turbofan engines to approach the operational economy of newer jets, but according to the newspaper’s source, talks are still at an early stage, far from a possible launch of the program.
Boeing’s goal is quite obvious, to confront the A321XLR, a long-range variant of Airbus’ best-selling aircraft that already has more than 450 orders. Currently, the US manufacturer does not have any aircraft capable of offering the same performance – the closest to that is the 737 MAX 10, but which takes fewer passengers and at a much lower distance.
Boeing’s move to launch a new medium-capacity jet comes as no surprise. The company is already studying a solution to face the successful A320 family, however, it aspired to create a new segment in the market with the NMA, a widebody jet with a capacity between 225 and 275 seats and a transoceanic range – which was dubbed 797.
Later, Boeing surveyed the market with another project, the FSA (Future Small Airplane), which could be the replacement for the 737, with a capacity between 180 and 210 seats.
Using the 757 cell to develop a new aircraft doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Boeing already considered this possibility a few years ago, as a way to reduce investment and offer a product soon to its customers. If it was doubtful five years ago, today this hypothesis is advantageous in view of the costs necessary to create a blank sheet project – something around $ 15 billion in addition to years of work.
With good interior space, the 757 could receive new wings, advanced avionics and improvements to the main cabin inherited from the 787 and 777X. With more efficient turbofan engines, this “757 2.0” would certainly perform quite attractive and at a much more realistic cost.
The alleged proposal would also please its employees in Washington state, who have seen plants lose importance as demand for widebodies declines. It is not an easy decision to be made, especially in a period of so many uncertainties, but it is still positive to see Boeing thinking about a new plane again.