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Boeing New Market Aircraft about to break cover

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Boeing NMA Engine And Fuselage-Shape Selections Loom

Sep 19, 2018 Thierry Dubois, Guy Norris and Victoria Moores | Aviation Week & Space Technology
 

As it gears up to launch its first clean-sheet design in 15 years, Boeing will soon make decisions that will indicate how it plans to keep the aircraft’s total cost of ownership low. The new midmarket airplane (NMA) was this summer described as using proven technologies to avoid the usual hefty bill and long development that breakthrough features imply. But the airframer has options that could send the program in a different direction and embark on real innovations.

Ihssane Mounir, Boeing’s vice president for commercial sales and marketing, is prioritizing life-cycle costs over the use of new technologies. “The costs we will offer will have nothing to do with today’s costs,” he said in June.

Two candidate engines are geared turbofans

Fuselage section may be elliptical

In engines, CFM is bidding a conventional turbofan design leveraging Leap, GEnx and GE9X technology, while both Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce are offering gear-driven fan concepts. All three engine-makers submitted bids to Boeing in June, covering powerplants with slightly more than 50,000 lb. thrust.

CFM has not disclosed details of its NMA engine design, but President and CEO Gael Meheust stresses that “using Leap-level technology is the way it always should be. . . . You bring in all the technology that’s already been developed, either in service with current engines or in programs you specifically did to validate those techs.”

While that approach may please the promoters of proven technologies, Pratt and Rolls will be strong contenders with likely aggressive reduction targets in fuel burn. Rolls has passed major development milestones for its next-generation large commercial turbofan product line, and has frozen the configuration of its UltraFan geared engine concept. Such an architecture is new for Rolls-Royce.

Pratt’s experience with geared turbofans on the Airbus A320neo includes in-service difficulties, which means the PW1100G may not, in Boeing engineers’ view, qualify for the “proven” technology category.

Boeing’s schedule suggests an engine decision by the end of next year’s first quarter. Air Lease Corp. Executive Chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy says Boeing is carefully weighing engine options.“We all know the problems that Airbus and Boeing have been going through with new engines on the 737 MAX, A320neo and 787,” he notes. “I think Boeing is being very cautious on that.” 

 

 

As for the fuselage, Boeing is favoring a widebody (or twin-aisle) over a narrowbody (single-aisle) fuselage, for passenger comfort and faster boarding and deboarding. As the former configuration has a greater fuselage section, its aerodynamics look less favorable, suggesting greater drag and, in turn, higher fuel burn.

But Boeing says things are not so simple. In terms of aerodynamics, “it is something very advanced that we are looking at,” says Mounir, who joined Boeing in 1997 as a senior aerodynamics engineer.

Experts in aerodynamics at Onera, France’s center for aerospace research, agree that a widebody configuration could be the right choice. However, it would call for an elliptical fuselage.

For a given seat capacity in a cylindrical fuselage, moving to a twin-aisle layout (seven- or eight-abreast) from a single-aisle (six-abreast) layout involves a 20% penalty in fuselage drag in cruise flight, according to Onera aerodynamic research scientists Olivier Atinault and Ludovic Wiart. Fuselage drag accounts for one-third of the total drag.

“But if you make the section less cylindrical while keeping the required cabin height, then the fuselage’s drag becomes equivalent to the narrowbody’s with the same capacity,” Atinault and Wiart say. The decrease in drag is linked to the smaller wetted area—the surface submitted to air friction.

What about weight? Fuselages must be constructed to cope with hoop stress created by cabin pressurization, and a cylindrical section is the simplest way to do so. An elliptical section requires reinforcement, making weight a challenge. One solution is to insert vertical rods inside the tube, adding strength but not too much weight. Boeing, via its Aurora Flight Sciences subsidiary, has studied such a structure for the D8 ultra-efficient airliner concept.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s unconventional D8 configuration is becoming more conventional as Aurora Flight Sciences works to turn the fuel-saving concept into a practical product.

With or without new technologies, Boeing will soon have to clarify the NMA program’s timescale. Udvar-Hazy anticipates it will be launched in mid-2019—which could coincide with an announcement at next year’s Paris Air Show. Boeing says it is “protecting [the] 2025 entry-into-service date” and “expects” to make a launch decision in 2019.

The most recent experiences in commercial aircraft, though, show such a swift development is unlikely to happen. The Boeing 787 was launched in 2004 with a 2008 goal for entry into service, but it did not reach that milestone until 2011. Similarly, it took a good eight years for Airbus to develop the A350, from launch to first commercial flight.

Boeing has recently signed up for Dassault Systemes’ latest product life-cycle management platform. While product brochures emphasize the numerous improvements it can bring to the aircraft development process, they do not suggest a 25% shortening of the development cycle. 

 

http://aviationweek.com/program-management-corner/boeing-nma-engine-and-fuselage-shape-selections-loom?NL=SPD-01&Issue=SPD-01_20181001_SPD-01_777&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_1_b&utm_rid=CPEN1000000441429&utm_campaign=16730&utm_medium=email&elq2=ff299c599666473db9c1f09f85849de8

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Study Says More Range But Not Much More Capacity Needed For NMA

Jun 18, 2017 Jens Flottau | ShowNews
0107pa17.jpg

The good news first: Airline interest in the proposed New Midsize Airplane (NMA) that Boeing is starting to develop from scratch and that Airbus is looking at responding to is huge. In a joint Aviation Week/Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey, 78% of respondents said they were interested in buying such an aircraft. In a market that is currently notorious for not placing many orders at all, that is a very significant number. Airlines also not only want the aircraft, they want it fast—around two-thirds would ideally like to take delivery of it by 2021, years before the earliest realistic entry-into-service dates the manufacturers can offer.

But the survey, published ahead of the 2017 Paris Air Show, also makes clear how difficult it will be for manufacturers to get right definition of the aircraft and that it is not a single aircraft they are looking at, but a family with different range and seating versions. Airline requirements could trigger a fascinating strategy play that not only involves future designs but also includes current product lines: The Airbus A320neo family that controls around 60% of the single-aisle market, a position it appears to be able to hold for the foreseeable future, and the Boeing 737 MAX, the relative weakness of which at the top end Boeing is trying to address through the launch of the 737-10.

The middle of the market, sitting between true long-haul aircraft and the single-aisles, has always been a tricky segment to address. Airbus started out as an aircraft manufacturer in what arguably is the most difficult part of the portfolio. The A300 and A310 were not real successes. The one true success in the space was the Boeing 757-200; the 767 and A330 exceeded the missions for which they were planned. The A321neo and the A321LR, however, look like they are getting closest to where the 757 left off.

What airlines are asking Boeing and Airbus in the survey puts the OEMs in a difficult position: The vast majority of respondents (90%) want fewer than 250 seats in a two-class configuration and up to 5,000-nm range (76%). A significant percentage of respondents (24%) want even more than the 5,000 nm. Two-thirds of potential future operators also expect a composite fuselage and composite wings. In other words, they would like an aircraft that is not too different in size from today’s narrowbody families but has a lot more range.

That is a problem for the airlines' suppliers. If they follow their customers’ requests, they seriously risk either cannibalizing their current narrowbody offerings or making it harder to turn a successor into a commercial success—and they likely risk both. Boeing not only faces the challenge of having to develop an aircraft similar in size to the 737 that is different enough to address different segments, it seems more or less committed to building a small 767-like widebody with much better economics than the 1980s-era design. But the smaller the aircraft becomes, the more difficult it will be to both keep widebody features and sustain narrowbody economics. Engineers are working on sophisticated designs that, Boeing says, make both possible.

But do customers even want a widebody? The survey does not deliver a clear answer. Only 51% of the airlines responding to the survey would consider a small widebody if it fits into existing gate infrastructure. That is not necessarily always a given if manufacturers at the same time take the range requirement seriously, which would then likely mean a large wing. Of course, the wings could become an issue even for a long-range narrowbody at some of the single-aisle gates at dense airports.

At the outset, Airbus appears to be in a more comfortable position. The A321neo and its long-range (LR) version seem to have about the right size for most operators, and being too small is not as serious a problem as being too big. On the other hand, the survey shows that Airbus is not there yet, in particular as far as range is concerned. More work needs to be done on range, as the A321LR as currently proposed reaches only slightly over 4,000 nm. As part of the A321neo "plus-plus" project (part of a broader initiative to modernize the A320neo family), more capacity is under consideration, but more importantly, more range has to be designed into the aircraft. Boeing knows the 737-9 and -10 are not the answers because of the range limitations. That’s where the New Midsize Airplane comes into play.

And the market seems ready for it. While 60% of the survey respondents say what they have heard about the Boeing project meets their expectations, only 40% say the same about the “A322neo,” the stretched and upgraded A320neo family addition Airbus has been looking at. Now all Boeing has to do is to get the design right.

 

http://aviationweek.com/paris-air-show-2017/study-says-more-range-not-much-more-capacity-needed-nma

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The real questions is;  "will it be common type with the 737-200 from 1964?" ('cause we know how important that is to potential customers).

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First flight for the B737-200 was April ‘68.

AC says their Max’s are making money. Whoever is signing the cheques for their aircraft orders has full control over configurations and it doesn’t seem to be a problem for this best selling aircraft.

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3 hours ago, blues deville said:

First flight for the B737-200 was April ‘68.

 

Yes, but wikipedia says it was envisioned in 1964 (with a modern 1950s design philosophy).  

Just joking around, I'm not actually that negative on the aircraft - it is comfortable enough in the back, for the 2 hour flights I've been a passenger, and the large bins and large IFE screens are a welcome change but I'm glad I don't have to fly it based on my time in the jumpseat.  

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1 hour ago, seeker said:

Yes, but wikipedia says it was envisioned in 1964 (with a modern 1950s design philosophy).  

Just joking around, I'm not actually that negative on the aircraft - it is comfortable enough in the back, for the 2 hour flights I've been a passenger, and the large bins and large IFE screens are a welcome change but I'm glad I don't have to fly it based on my time in the jumpseat.  

I know you’re joking but I think it’s probably time to stop stretching this classic plane. A new model will be a breath of fresh air as long as it doesn’t have the 787 start up problems.

Heard the same complaint about the Max jumpseat. A form of some horrible torture. 

Edited by blues deville

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I've never seen a narrow body with a jumpseat that was meant for actual use by a human of average stature.

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21 hours ago, blues deville said:

 

Heard the same complaint about the Max jumpseat. A form of some horrible torture. 

The jumpseat itself appears to have been designed for maximum discomfort and I'm not joking about that.  There's a strategically located bar on the seat bottom that prevents sitting up with normal posture so the only way to avoid that is to kind of slide your rearend forward and adopt a slouch which puts your back against the strategically placed "MAX-Pain" bar across the seatback.

My comment about being "glad I don't fly it" however was in reference to the mishmash/adhoc/random placement and design of every single switch and control in the flight deck.  There is a mix of analog, green digital, amber digital, switches guarded forward, switches guarded aft, some sideways switches, rotary, etc.  Basically the 737 flight deck is a perfect illustration of how far flight deck design has come since it first rolled out.

Edited by seeker

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It is a testament to the lack of motivation from Boeing that it did not at least offer standalone MAX operators (i.e. AC) a version of the MAX with EICAS and an updated overhead panel. Behind all those switches and illuminated switch lights is a simple electronic signal. No reason to cling to the design from the 1960’s. I love the pressurization controller. Gives 737 pilot grandads and their 737 MAX pilot grandchildren something in common to talk about......

Edited by rudder

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The MAX is a mish mash of technologies all not well integrated.  Boeing should have reengineered the entire avionics and electrical system of the aircraft to catch up with todays standards.  In reality it is lipstick on the same old pig.  Time to let it die.

  • Haha 1

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That may be true but when two of your largest customers (Southwest and Ryanair) threaten to go elsewhere if you don't maintain that common type rating, it's a bit of a tough call. I remember when the 737NG was going to be called the 787.

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I've lived through lots of "format" changes; 8-track to cassette, then cassette to CDs, VHS to DVDs, electric heat to a heat pump, an old house with crappy insulation to R2000 - it's always better to switch to the new technology and then enjoy the benefits.  Costs more to make the change but then pays off in the end.  

I realize there's a big difference in the costs between my little situation and running an airline but I bet that if Southwest had swallowed the "training cost" pill back in the beginning they would be further ahead now because they'd have a better machine that weighed less, was easier to maintain and had a smaller training footprint on every training event since.  Short-sighted accountants looking at the numbers for next quarter rather than the long-term costs down the road.

 

Edited by seeker
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WRT to aircraft decisions, while all of the arguments for taking the common type rating hit and the benefits of allowing evolution to include the 737 make sense to pilots,  it helps to keep in mind that the real decision on which aircraft to get is often made by those who neither have nor will operate one.  

We don't have have to reach back too far in Canadian history to find an example of this.

Vs

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1 hour ago, Vsplat said:

We don't have have to reach back too far in Canadian history to find an example of this.

Vs

Are you referring to this piece of Canadian aviation history? I had forgotten why Boeing purchased Dehavilland back in the 80’s. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_affair

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That's a good reference!  I'd forgotten about that one. 

I was thinking about a more recent decision concerning Airbus fleet replacement at our flag carrier....

Vs

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25 minutes ago, Vsplat said:

That's a good reference!  I'd forgotten about that one. 

I was thinking about a more recent decision concerning Airbus fleet replacement at our flag carrier....

Vs

Roger. That one is probably buried on some “non/flyer” accountant’s desk. :)

Edited by blues deville

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Yup.  Sitting behind a mahogany slab does things to a person's sense of risk management.

I've often thought that we should make it mandatory for every manager in the company to do line indoc in the jump seat, in winter snow events or summer CBs, for LGA turns and redeyes, for a full pairing with the same sleep/wake cycle of our crews.  Not only do I think the conversation would be better afterwards, I bet we would get nicer jumpseats.

Vs

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The way I heard it, even at the 11th hour the flight ops team fully expected to see an order go out for a batch of Airbus Neo's. There was even an industry news article to that effect. Then Boeing caved on the EMJ buyback and the rest is history.

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It’s ok. AC pilots will be blown away by the c-series/A220 when it arrives. I doubt that AC will ever convert a single option on the MAX. Boeing probably has realized that as well. Still possible that AC/Rouge could still become a NEO customer in the future.

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Boeing has pushed back an announcement over pursuing the New Midsize Airplane (NMA) until sometime in 2019, but increasingly, financial analysts are seeing the new aircraft as a fait accompli.

After a recent industry conference, analyst Doug Harned of investment group Sanford C. Bernstein said potential airline customers appear to be leaning in favor of NMA. “Airline views on this Boeing concept appeared increasingly positive to us, with the design parameters firming,” Harned said.

While not a done deal, momentum is gaining. “Boeing has not yet gained confidence that the business case will close [regarding price, unit cost, investment]. Airbus continues to say an NMA market can be satisfied by its existing products,” Harned observed. “But airlines appear to now be more interested in the NMA relative to current Airbus or Boeing products. We believe this could lead to a more aggressive response by Airbus.”

Others also are expecting the new program, but for different reasons. “It may be pivotal for a competitive product offering, expanding [Boeing Global] Services, and smoothing development cycles, even if it raises interim risk levels,” Morgan Stanley analysts said.

According to Morgan Stanley, three reasons that make NMA compelling are: 1) it provides a proper competitive response to the Airbus A321; 2) it furthers the Services strategy; and 3) it lowers the risks of the transition to the 737 redesign.

Aerospace suppliers also believe NMA is coming, although they have a more mixed view of it, according to Canaccord Genuity analyst Ken Herbert’s latest supply chain survey. According to those findings, roughly 50% of suppliers expect Boeing to officially launch NMA in 2019, with just about 10% believing Boeing will not launch it.

“However, it is interesting to note that [around] 20% of the suppliers indicated that they are not in discussions with Boeing on the NMA, which we view as a strong sign the program is moving forward,” Herbert stressed.

Herbert said the debate within industry is which suppliers will end up on the program, and what will the terms of the involvement be for the supply chain. “We believe Boeing is looking at complete life-cycle costs and revenues, with the services revenue opportunity now a key part of the equation for Boeing,” he said.

But it also holds importance for all stakeholders, Herbert added. “We believe the NMA does pose a risk for investors, as it could signify a transition from harvest to investment as the company launches its first cleansheet design since the 787.”

 

http://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/boeings-new-midsize-airplane-will-happen-say-analysts?NL=AW-05&Issue=AW-05_20181018_AW-05_911&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_2&utm_rid=CPEN1000002544843&utm_campaign=17011&utm_medium=email&elq2=4c43b99f2aa84d148a75dae400404b87

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