Boeing should develop new family to succeed 737: Udvar-Hazy

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Steven Udvar-Hazy, the most influential man in the world of aircraft leasing, believes Boeing should offer a new family of aircraft - including a replacement for the 757 - when it establishes a plan for developing a successor to its highly-successful 737 series.

"All I can tell you is our recommendation to Boeing, and we've bought over 800 new Boeing airplanes, is to build an aircraft family rather than a single sized model and that family hopefully will encompass at the upper end an airplane that could replace the 757," Hazy told journalists on the sidelines of the ISTAT conference in Scottsdale, Arizona yesterday.

A twin-aisle "narrowbody" is also worth considering, as part of such a family. "In all of the studies that we have done and in talking to airlines, you can turn a twin-aisle aircraft faster if you have good passenger access. So the whole idea of a short- to medium-haul aircraft is maximizing utilization and if you can get ten minutes a turn and you do six segments a day you can get an hour more flight utilization," says Hazy.

"Look at the upper end of that market, once you get above 200 seats. How many of you have flown on a 757 when you're in row 39F and how long does it take to get off the airplane if they're loading only through the front. Sometimes it [feels like it] takes longer to get off the airplane then the flight itself. My feeling is that to be a really an effective airplane above 200 seats and a great competitor and have the cargo capacity, which is also an important element in the revenue generation of airplanes, a small twin-aisle has a lot of advantages once you get north of 200 seats."

Boeing expects to decide by mid-year whether to re-engine the 737 or proceed with a clean-sheet design. The airframer "is working very closely with the engine manufacturers to see what is the level of efficiency and fuel consumption improvement from the initial [A320]neo to the time that they would introduce their engine and so that's going to obviously be important because the airframe, they could probably get several percent better efficiency from an all-new airframe, but then you have to combine that with engine efficiency," says Hazy.

He notes that bolstered efficiency "could come in several ways", adding: "That could come, for example, and I'm not telling you what Boeing will do or won't do, but for example a slightly larger fan diameter on the new-generation Boeing airplane versus the [A320]neo could give it a several percent fuel advantage just the way the airplane is designed, whereas the A320 is already an A320. It can't be redesigned for this engine. So Boeing has the advantage of a clean sheet of paper and therefore they can optimize whatever engine or engines they'll put on the next generation airplanes, whereas on an A320, it's mounting an engine to a current-generation airplane."