Delay predicted on 737, A320 successors

Both The Boeing Co. and its rival, Airbus, may postpone the need for a new-design single aisle airliner for 15 years or longer, an Issaquah-based aviation analyst says.

Leeham Co. analyst Scott Hamilton this week predicted that both major aircraft makers will opt to re-engineer their workhorse 737 and A320 families of aircraft within the next few years rather than design a new single-aisle jet from scratch.

If new engines postpone creation of a successor to the 737 for another 15 or more years, that development could be good for the Puget Sound area. Boeing builds the 737 in its Renton plant. The company has talked about considering other locations to build a successor to the 737.

New, more fuel-efficient engines from engine-makers Pratt & Whitney and General Electric, along with aerodynamic improvements, could increase fuel economy by 12 to 16 percent. That increase in economy could stave off the need for a new-design jetliner for a decade.

Both companies have discussed fitting the planes with new-technology engines, but haven’t committed to doing so.

Boeing and Airbus are planning minor enhancements of their best-selling planes over the next two years. Boeing is making aerodynamic improvements to the 737 and fitting it with a new interior. Airbus is adding its own fuel-saving winglets to the A320 family of aircraft.

Boeing recently decided to build a second assembly line for its 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina.

John Gillie, The News Tribune