Boeing is worried that the success of A321 is eating into its market share and weakening the demand for its 737-8.
As per airlines industry sources, in the face of strong sales from its rival, Airbus’ A321neo, Boeing is closing in on its decision to launch a larger version of its workhorse, the 737 jet within two months.
Boeing’s 737 MAX 10 will narrow the gap between the 178-220 seat 737-9, and the 185-240 seat A321neo.
Airbus’ A321neo dominates the top end of a market for the narrowbody jets market worth $2 trillion over 20 years.
Boeing has been busy tinkering away at a tricky problem concerning with the design of the 737 MAX 10’s landing gear, without piling up additional cost of delays, with a slated target of 2020 for its first deliveries.
Having engineered a solution for the tricky problem, Boeing will be talking more confidently with airlines on its plan to launch the 737-10 at the Paris Airshow in June. Boeing has forecast a total of 1,000 sales for this model.
“Boeing is actively engaged in discussions with customers about the 737 MAX 10X,” said Boeing’s spokesman. “No decision has been made on the airplane and any discussion on timing of a possible launch would be speculative.”
As per aerospace engineers, the solution to the problem lies in the plane receiving a “semi-levered” design such that the 737-10 will effectively sit back on its heels as it leaves the runway.
Its landing gear will lengthen telescopically as the plane charges down the runway and once its airborne, it will again retract into the same space.
The way Airbus sees it, there isn’t much difference between the 737-9 and the costlier 737-10 model.
Airbus is already making improvements to its A320 family with the next upgrade codenamed A320neo-plus.
Although Boeing is offering 5% lower costs per seat than Airbus’s A321neo, industry experts are of the opinion that operating costs could be much higher than the A321neo. Range and performance are likely to be the two most important criteria for buyers.
Clearly the A321neo’s success has Boeing worried since it could weaken its smaller 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
“It’s a defensive move. Boeing wants to prevent the A321neo being a Trojan Horse in its own fleet,” said a strategist.