The Boeing NMA is dead. Long live the NMA?
With the change of leadership at Boeing, a new tone has set in. With a conservative approach to the eventual 737 MAX ungrounding and a defense of the culture within the company, David Calhoun’s first week as the Chief Executive of the company sounded promising for the company to get back on track. While only time will tell what kind of direction Boeing will take, one thing was clear from the new CEO’s first teleconference with the press and a webcast with the manufacturer’s workforce ‒ the Boeing New Midsize Airplane (NMA) as we know it, is dead.
“We might have to start with the flight control philosophy before we actually get to the airplane,” Calhoun said. Pointing out Boeing’s pilot-first approach to the flight controls of its aircraft, he added that the company would need to “get our heads around exactly what we want,” as it develops a new, clean-sheet design for its approach to the middle market. “We are going to start with a clean sheet of paper, again,” Calhoun stated.
On the other side of the ocean, champagne corks are flying around as Airbus celebrates its success with the A321XLR. Airbus extended the range of the aircraft, based on its A321 design, with a new Rear Centre Tank (RCT), a modified landing gear which brought up the Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) to 101 tones and an optimized trailing-edge flap to keep the same take-off performance as the A321neo.
With a range of 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 kilometers) and the ability to carry up to 244 passengers in a single-class layout, the A321XLR is seemingly perfectly catered towards the future of the aviation industry: with the hub-and-spoke system slowly fading away, airlines will be able to stimulate point-to-point traffic on long-haul distances by offering routes that were previously fairly inconvenient, as travelers have to transfer through hubs.
Much like the Boeing 757 does right now or the Airbus A321XLR plans to do when it enters service in 2023, a direct competitor to the NMA.
Current role of the 757 and A321LR
Despite Boeing introducing the 757 in 1983 with Eastern Air Lines, the product is still widely popular with airlines. Out of 1,049 total built aircraft, commercial airlines still operate more than a third of the total produced aircraft, not including the 300-strong fleet of freighters.
For instance, one Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 that was badly bent during a rough landing in Ponta Delgada Airport, Portugal (PDL) in August 2019 was repaired and continues flying to this day, despite the fact that it is already 23 years old, Flightradar24.com data indicates.
During the summer, Delta Air Lines plans to increase its transatlantic flights from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and the majority of the increased presence will be associated with the 757, indicated the airport’s summer schedule.