Boeing is evaluating how to reduce weight from a 737 replacement with a wider fuselage accommodating two aisles, vice-president for marketing Randy Tinseth says at the Asian Aerospace airshow in Hong Kong.
The potential twin-aisle jet could permit faster boarding and deplaning times, reducing ground time and increasing aircraft utilisation, Tinseth says. "If you can improve the turn-around time, you may get one more flight a day."
Such an aircraft could be advantageous to low-cost airlines and other carriers whose operations centre around high utilisation rates. Tinseth declines to comment on customer interest for a dual-aisle 737 replacement, except to say that "airlines have made it clear what they want in terms of economic performance".
Tinseth says the potential dual-aisle aircraft would also offer more interior comfort as well as "some appearance and aesthetic value".
The trade-off, however, to a wider cross-section is the resulting additional weight that reduces fuel efficiency.
To counter that, Tinseth says Boeing is "going to look at a number of opportunities: material, systems, aerodynamics, everything you can possibly do to improve the efficiency of the airplane".
Boeing will take that approach to its 737 replacement regardless if it has one or two aisles, Tinseth adds. He says Boeing is having a "difficult time closing the business case" on a re-engined 737, thus paving the way for a clean sheet design.
The airframer has filed patents for twin-aisle cabin cross-sections that have drag and weight ratios comparable to single-aisle aircraft. Tinseth declines to comment on such explorations except to say that "Boeing has more patents than any aerospace company in the world."
Tinseth expects Boeing to decide by mid-year whether to re-engine the 737 or proceed with a clean-sheet design.