Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why Boeing needs to re-engine the 737, and why they shouldn't

With Airbus announcing a the A320neo, Boeing has some serious things to think about.  I have heard much of the twitterverse talk about what should Boeing do, and I thought I'd throw my thoughts out there.

Why Boeing needs to re-engine the 737
It's not news to anyone that the economy is hurting, and everyone knows that airlines are tightening their belts, and packing on the fees.  Airlines are desperate for ways to cut back.  And, in standard airline procedure, they're looking two feet in front of themselves, instead of to the future.

As Airbus announces their the A320neo, customers see an immediate fix, coming in five years, and not ten.  It makes Airbus look better to the eyes of CEOs who hope to be retired by the time the new 320 hits EIS.

But mostly what it does, is make Boeing look bad.  "We need solutions, NOW!" cry the airline executives, and a new airplane could take ten years to get off the ground!  Oh, and did we mention, the A380 is flying and the 787 isn't?

Airbus needs cash, I assume this because they are french and most likely spent it all on cheese.  A quick solution to cash is to announce a new airplane, and get lots of orders.  Does it mean you can fulfill what you promise?  Not at all, but remember our CEOs can't see past next week.

Also, Airbus probably feels they have a lead on Boeing right now with reports of better growth in China, and (oh, yeah) they have a double decker death trap flying while Boeing's 787 sits and waits for a new power panel (yes, I know that the plane has left texas and returned home).  So a move like this can insure customers.  And those CEOs who are sitting on the line, this could push them to Airbus.

So Boeing needs to re-engine the 737, but they shouldn't.

Why Boeing should hold out for the 797
Boeing has a way of doing things.  Build a new airplane, and wait for a while.  Then, build another one. Airbus has a way of doing things.  Build an airplane, get bored, throw it to the side, and build four more really fast.  Watch those airplanes fall to pieces over the Atlantic Ocean and explode 19 minutes after takeoff.

Boeing shouldn't change who they are.  Secondly, has anyone watched the video on Boeing's website about redesigning the strobes on the 737?  How much time and effort did it take to cut fuel use by 2% to make the new strobes work?  If you're going to take that much time, why not start from scratch.

The 787 has opened the door for a million new possibilities for airplanes.  Using the knowledge they have gained from the 787 they could create a new aircraft that could potentially save 20% of fuel burn (or far more!).  Now, Mister CEO, wouldn't you love to wait a little longer for something that saved you way more money?

The last reason I'd like to offer is this: By building a new airplane Boeing becomes a step ahead of Airbus.  The 320neo is a band aide, a new aircraft would be far more advanced than a redesign.

But let's see, I'm just some guy who likes to look at airplanes, so what do I know?

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