Thursday, December 31, 2020

Possible Boeing Timeline For Airliner Development In 2020 To 2040

    Even though Boeing has been hard hit by the grounding of the 737 MAX caused by the two tragic incidents, worsely compounded by the chinese virus pandemic, Boeing still has to move forward with its Airliner Development.

Boeing 737 MAX9

    As Boeing itself has identified, it has an airliner model gap between the 737 model line, and the 787 and 767 model lines. This has been caused by the absence of a replacement for its 757 line, of which the replacement cycle for it has began. The 757 has been mostly replaced by the Airbus A321LR, and soon by the A321XLR.

Airbus A321LR

    Boeing also has no replacement in the area formerly occupied by the former MD95 that was renamed the Boeing 717, after the merger with McDonnell Douglas aircraft company. This area is now occupied by the Bombardier designed and built CS100 and CS300, that was sold to Airbus for $1 and became the Airbus A220.

Bombardier CSeries, now called Airbus A220

    Had the Boeing - Embraer merger proceeded, without the MAX and chinese
virus pandemic fiascos, the new Embraer E2 195 line could have competed with the A220 in this sector. This sector was also covered in the past by the earliest 737 versions before the 737 was made bigger at least twice. The 737 MAX7 still covers part of this sector but will not be as competitive versus the newer Bombardier designed and originally built CSeries.

Embraer E2 195

    Thus Boeing has two product line gaps to plug, the 757 replacement and the 717 replacement. Both the A321LR and the A220 lines has effectively reduced market shares in these areas.

    In my previous blog Boeing 737-11 NEW, Or Boeing 717 - The 757 Replacement I discussed a possible 757 replacement concept founded on the 737 MAX, with a NEW wing, longer fuselage and updated engines.

    Prior news items has talked of a possible new engines for the venerable Boeing 767, now solely produced as a Freighter or as a Refueling Tanker. Boeing has a contract for 179 KC-46 Pegasus Tankers with the US Air Force but there is probably low chances of reengining for these since it will muddle the maintenance logistics chain.

KC-46 Pegasus

    If Boeing gets enough orders for reengined 767 Freighters, it will most probably proceed. It may well turn the 767 as the C-47/DC-3 aircraft of the 21st century that lives on and on. If the economics is right, Boeing may even offer an airliner version of the 767, that has already a modernized cockpit based on the 787.

    My take on the Possible Boeing Timeline For Airliner Development In 2020 To 2040, from Board decision to first flight

    2022-2026    737-11 NEW, to evolve as the Boeing 717 as 757 replacement

    2024-2027    Reengined 767-XF

    2030-2035    737 Replacement, maybe Truss-Braced Wing with Open Rotor engine

Boeing Truss-Braced Wing Concept

    717 replacement will depend on Boeing's financial capacity after the MAX and chinese virus fiascos; or maybe revisit the merger of Boeing and Embraer. Or adopt the Mitsubishi SpaceJet for this area as Boeing and Mitsubishi are already partners in the 787.


Mitsubishi SpaceJet


Boeing 737-11 NEW, Or Boeing 717 - The 757 Replacement


    Boeing's present financial situation effectively closes the door to the launch of its NMA or New Midsize Airplane in the next 15 years.

Boeing's NMA or New Midsize Airplane Concept

    However, it must have to present a competitor to the Airbus' A321 LR and A321XLR models that has become the de facto B-757 replacement aircraft.

Airbus Launches The A321XLR

    Given Boeing's heavy debt load, mainly caused by the 737 MAX accident fiasco and the chinese virus pandemic, it will not have the financial capacity to invest on an all-new airliner to compete in its own-defined 'Midsize Airplane' sector. And there are also no new technologies that Boeing can integrate into an NMA or New Midsize Airplane that will leapfrog substantially the Airbus models that are now presently occupying this sector. Boeing needs at least 20% better efficiency to justify a $10+ billion investment on a clean sheet airliner.

Boeing 737 MAX9

    What Boeing needs now is a 757 Replacement that is founded on the 737 for the 'Midsize Airplane' sector.

Icelandair Boeing 757

     It must jump the gun on Airbus' solution, that is touted by the media, for Airbus to confront the then Boeing NMA or New Midsize Airplane concept study. And the 737 that has recently caused it much pain can now become its savior in the 'Midsize Airplane' sector.

Boeing 737 MAX10, soon to fly


    I call it the 737-11 NEW (New Engine and Wing). And evolve as the Boeing 717, as it diverges more from the 737 line. The Boeing's 757 replacement.

     The Boeing 717 will have these features: 

1. It will use an optimized 737 fuselage, with outward opening cargo doors with maximized cabin width via a 777X similar treatment. This will leverage the efficient 737 production line of Spirit AeroSystems thus reducing startup costs. Modifications can later be flowed back to MAX fuselages after testing and certification.

2. It will use an updated 777X composite wing design technology, optimized for the 717 configuration. Folding wingtips can also be adopted if it is economical in terms of airport slot costs. This can leverage the huge investment that Boeing has put into its Composite Wing Center plant in Everett.

3. Upgraded GE/Safran LEAP-1B or 1A engines to maintain commonality with the MAX or NEO supply chains. At this point, engine inserts are on time to be developed for better fuel efficiency and time on wing.

4. A 3rd AOA sensor or a virtual one to fulfill EASA requirement. The other 737 findings from the MAX recertification have to be provided solutions for in the 717.

5. Nominal specs would be a 4,000 NM range with a maximum of 240 passengers in a 2-class cabin. The 717 must not encroach into the 767 and 787 sectors, and maintain good economics for the 757 sector.

6. A 787 technology level cockpit will insure the 717's relevance into the 2030's.


The 717 designation was last used for the MD-95 that Boeing inherited when it took over the McDonnell Douglas company. It was also used as a designation for a pre cursor of the Boeing 707 - the KC-135 tanker.

Boeing 717, formerly MD-95

KC-135E Stratotanker, originally designated as 717-100