The Wall Street Journal reports (Paid subscription required) that Boeing is advancing toward development of an all new midsized jetliner that would seat upwards of 270 passengers and offer a flight range of up to ten hours. This new aircraft would supposedly be delivered with more attractive market pricing.
The report indicates that the aircraft producer has held talks with as many as 36 airlines and lessors regarding their interest in what have been termed as “New Middle Market Airplane” a new twin-aisle aircraft accommodating between 200-270 passengers that would fit between the existing 737 and 787 aircraft models. It further would represent an alternative to replace rather aging existing Boeing 757 aircraft which have been a workhorse for airline customers. The company estimates that there is global demand for as many as 5000 midsized, midrange jets. The report further stresses that no final decision has been made as yet since Boeing executives must secure board approval regarding development and revenue goals.
Market entry is estimated to be between 2024 and 2025. From our lens, that seems to be a lifetime by today’s much faster pace of business change. By that time period, if current industry commercial aircraft production goals hold true, there will be a whole lot of new airplanes flying the global skies. Further, as the WSJ notes, Airbus may well have 1000 new mid-range aircraft in service by the time Boeing jet is ready.
There are two further aspects from a product development and supply chain strategy perspective.
The news of this proposed new aircraft reportedly reflects an ongoing change in Boeing’s prior product strategy that was predicated on airlines moving away from very large jets to connect global hubs in favor of flying fewer people directly to smaller cities with far more efficient aircraft. The building realities of global pilot shortages and more crowded skies now reflect needs for super-efficient mid-ranged aircraft that can maximize passenger load and avoid the need to fly through crowded global hubs.
From the supply and value-chain lens, to meet the rather aggressive price and margin targets, it appears that Boeing will continue to leverage composite and carbon-fiber materials as well as more heavily automated production processes. Process learnings from the existing 787 Dreamliner and the ongoing 777X development program are expected to be applied to the proposed new model.