Stopping just short of an official announcement, Boeing Chairman Jim McNerney told Wall Street analysts Thursday that Boeing intends to create a new airplane from scratch to replace its best-selling 737.
McNerney said he’s confident that Boeing customers won’t defect to Airbus during the nine years until the new aircraft enters service.
“We’re gonna do a new airplane. We’re not done evaluating this whole situation yet, but our current bias is to not re-engine, is to move to an all-new airplane at the end of the decade, beginning of the next decade,” McNerney said at a New York investment conference.
Airbus recently announced it will re-engine its A320, a rival to the 737, to cut fuel costs.
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McNerney said the so-called Airbus A-320neo will merely catch up to the 737, which is already more efficient than the A320.
Boeing also is planning incremental improvements to the 737 such as aerodynamic refinements and engine enhancements to improve its fuel efficiency further.
The 737 replacement will go into commercial service in 2020, he said.
A 737 replacement program would again place the Pacific Northwest region in a contest to determine where the new plane will be assembled.
Considering the sterling record of the workers at Renton, where the 737 is now built, and Boeing’s bad experience outsourcing much of the 787, this area might have a decent chance of retaining assembly of Boeing’s bread-and-butter airplane.
McNerney said sales prospects for the 777 are freshening. Boeing is raising the production rates for the 777 at its Everett plant to keep up with airline demand.
Boeing is considering an update of that aircraft in mid-life to incorporate new electronics, better engines and improved aerodynamics.