Saturday, January 15, 2011

If I Were W. James McNerney, Jr. (Boeing)

What a week for the #avgeeks out there.  IndiGo places the largest jet order ever, and Delta announces an RFP for 200 narrow body aircraft.

So, the question of the day, if you could be anyone working for Boeing, Airbus, Delta, Bombardier, United, or any other airline or manufacturer, who would it be, and what would you do?

Today, if I were W. James McNerney, Jr., the CEO of Boeing, this is what I would do.

I would take advantage of a quiet Saturday, and call my top engineers together.  We would sit around in a large meeting room at the Boeing headquarters in Chicago.  This what I would say:
Never before have we had such an opportunity as this.  Airlines are growing tired of our delays, and we are getting more and more frustrated.  Our plan is not falling into place as we would have hoped.  But today, we can change that.  What we have learned from the 787 program is great.  Although the aircraft hasn't made it first profit flight, we have gained vast knowledge from it
Today, we work hard, and Monday, we make a statement.
You see, if I were James, I would realize that the time to act is now.  The 737 has run its course.  The 747, 757, 767, and even (to some extent) the 777 are growing old.  The 787 has opened the doors to create stronger, lighter, faster, and cleaner aircraft.

A busy weekend would ensue.  On Monday, a calm would come before the storm.

Let me step out of my day dream for a moment to expand on a theory I have.  Boeing isn't stupid.  The A320neo is a bandaid to a larger problem, and Boeing knows it.  Remember, they didn't seem to excited over the IndiGo order, and why should they?  IndiGo wasn't going to buy any 737s anyway.  Moreover, Boeing knows something we don't.

My theory is simple: Boeing is going to start replacing their entire line with new, carbon fiber models.  They're just waiting for the right time to start announcing it.

Cue Delta.  

Boeing needs a large launch customer for their 737 replacement.  They need an impact to be left on Airbus for making a rash decision to re-engine the A320.  Delta wants 200 new narrow-bodies.  What are the options: The CSeries, the A320NEO, and the 737NexGen.

Bombardier needs to sell their CSeries, so they have a lot to lose.  Airbus is cocky, and probably thinks they have nothing to lose.  But Boeing has been waiting for the right time.  What about a 797 with three key variants.

797-200: 100-120 pax
797-400:  130-160 pax
797-600: 180-210 pax

And then give them a great range (you know to become ETOPS 180 rated).  The 797 could quickly become the most desired new aircraft.  And, if you really want insult Bombardier and Embraer, you make a -100 version designed to carry 70-100 pax.

So, back to my daydream.  I would make my announcement on Monday.  Land a sale with Delta, and then work with United (and its regional carriers) to also sign an MOU.

Knowing Boeing, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.  So, what's your fantasy?  Let me know what you think should/will happen.  I'll continue to support Boeing for the rest of my life.  It's a better aircraft, it's a better flight.

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

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