by Michael Lowrey
Boeing is close to starting development work on a new airliner. Per Flight Global:
Despite spending months pleading for patience, Boeing executives are now telling employees a launch decision for a new airliner aimed at the “middle of the market” (MOM) could be made by the end of the year.
In an all-hands meeting with employees on 10 February in Seattle, Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner said the new project could receive a go-ahead decision as early as 2016, sources say.
Since at least 2012, Boeing has identified a gap in the market between the single-aisle 737 Max 9 and the twin-aisle 787-8. A two-year series of discussions with customers revealed a consensus for an aircraft with about 20% more range and payload than a 757-200.
Why this matters if you live in North Carolina: The MOM gap is very real. You have single-aisle jets like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A321 that seat about 180 and have the range to do transcon flights but don’t have the legs to really do service across the Atlantic. Boeing once had a single-aisle plane that was about the same size as the largest 737s and the A321 but with a little more range — that would be the 757-200 and so could do some transatlantic flights — the soon-to-start Raleigh-Paris flight on Delta comes to mind — but the 757 has been out of production for a decade. The 787 is Boeing’s smallest passenger widebody and it’s a great plane but it’s also too much plane (too big, too much range) for many transatlantic routes. So if Boeing’s MOM concept works, it increases the number of flights to Europe that we might see 10 years from now from Charlotte and Raleigh. If it doesn’t work, then the bar for European flights will get set higher (bigger plane, more seats to fill).
A major potential use for a MOM aircraft would be on transcon routes as an upgrade from existing Boeing 737s and Airbus A321s. Current widebody jets (747, 777, 787, A380, A350, A330) aren’t well-suited for that role, as they were designed to fly 7000+ miles and thus really are too heavy.