Dublin - From a commercial point of view, it would be much more logical for Boeing to develop a successor to the 737 MAX family instead of the B797, former Airbus COO John Leahy believes.
Boeing is currently working on the development of a new mid-size aircraft, unofficially dubbed the B797. The aircraft is intended to be a small widebody following the 757 and 767 series, and which will fill the gap in the 200 to 270-seat segment. It is expected that the American manufacturer will officially announce its NMA (New Mid-size Airplane) program at the Paris Air Show this year.
If Boeing had asked for my opinion, I would have said that there was no business case for the 797,
Leahy said during a conference in Dublin last week.
Boeing wants to offer the 797 to the market relatively cheaper by building the aircraft in large numbers and with new production methods. But according to the former Airbus director, it will not work, because there won't be enough demand for the plane.
Moreover, airlines want to simplify and standardize their fleet to cut the costs, therefore, they are not waiting for another type, says Leahy. He thinks that the B797 can be a success on the American market where the 757 and 767 are still very popular.
Leahy believes that Boeing should put its money and energy into a completely new successor for the 737 MAX series jets, whose design is already more than fifty years old.
If Boeing wants to build something, I would advise them to invest in a new narrowbody airplane that can follow the 737 MAX from the middle of the next decade. Thus, they will be five years earlier than Airbus, who will only come with a successor for the A320 around 2030.
Leahy was the head of sales of Airbus's commercial aircraft division from 1994 to 2018. During that period he managed to double the market share of the European aircraft manufacturer and transformed it into a formidable competitor for Boeing.
On the other hand, Boeing thinks that the market is large enough for a new aircraft model. Some airlines and leasing companies such as United Airlines and Air Lease Corporation have already expressed interest in the Boeing's new program. If launched, It is planned to enter service around 2025.
The B797 to have a 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km) flight range with 225 seats and 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km) with 275 seats. Boeing's Market forecast ranges from 2,000 and 4,000 aircraft.
At an estimated price range of $65–75 million, the aircraft should generate 30% more revenue than the current narrowbodies in service and have 40% lower operating cost than 757 and 767 series jets. The development cost of the aircraft is expected to be around $12–15 billion.