The fact that Boeing has decided to go derivative rather than all-new for its competitive response to the Airbus A320neo will have been greeted with relief in Toulouse, but it could actually create headaches elsewhere in the airframer’s product line-up.
Okay, so the threat of the A320neo being obseleted almost before its paint has dried by an all-new competitor from Seattle has gone. But this removes a huge potential weight from the Boeing PD engineering teams who – once they’ve sorted 787-9 and possibly -10 and tinkered with the 737RE, will be relatively unencumbered.
And guess what their next task will be? You can bet it will centre on nailing the 777 refresh/successor programme to blow the A350-1000 out of the water (now they have a better idea what that beast will actually look like).
And don’t take my word for it – that was the surmise that a certain industry icon with the initials SUV made to me a couple of months ago, and he knows a thing or two about product development.
Given the lukewarm reaction that Airbus’s attempt to sharpen up the A350-1000 received from customers at Paris, this task may be easier than Boeing had feared it would be.
The 777, in -300ER guise (above), is already established as the long-haul widebody benchmark so taking it on to the next level will be a challenge. And I wonder what engine the 777 revamp might have? There’s one engine maker whose initials also stand for “Get Everything” that might possibly be well placed, particularly as Airbus has closed the door to anyone other than Rolls on the A350-1000 (below).
But then again, wouldn’t a Pratt GTF-powered 777 be an interesting proposition? And Pratt of course let on a few years ago that it had been approached by an airframer about the possibility of a GTF sized for a widebody application. So the idea might not be as daft as it sounds…