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American still eying NMA despite recent 787 order

An order for Boeing’s proposed New Mid-market airplane (NMA) remains an option for American Airlines despite the carrier’s recent purchase of 47 787s, says a top American executive.

The carrier’s senior vice-president of integrated operations David Seymour says American’s 787 delivery timeline keeps an NMA order on the table, though he stresses American knows little about the NMA’s ultimate production timetable or final specification.

Still, Seymour says the NMA could perform well in the carrier’s network and could replace the same aircraft types as the 787.

Those types include 767s, Airbus A330s and even, on some routes, much larger 777-200s.

“We are spending, like others, time with Boeing as they continue to develop the [NMA],” Seymour says during the MRO Americas maintenance trade show in Orlando.

The NMA “certainly came into play with our decision on this recent [787] order”, and that order “keeps [the NMA] as a viable option”, Seymour adds.

American on 12 April announced it ordered 47 787s, part of a massive fleet overhaul that will see those aircraft replace 767-300ERs, 777-200s and A330s.

The deal includes orders for 22 787-8s, which will arrive starting in 2020, and 25 787-9s, which will be delivered starting in 2023. Deliveries will wrap up around 2025, according to Flight Fleets Analyzer.

American chose the 787 after also evaluating the A350 and A330neo, it said.

The order came as airlines worldwide await word on whether Boeing’s board of directors will green light development of the NMA – a widebody aircraft that would replace 767s in the aircraft segment between 737s and 787s.

Boeing has described the NMA in broad strokes. The company’s Commercial Airplanes chief executive Kevin McAllister on 1 March said opportunity exists for an aircraft with 200 to 270 seats and range around 5,000nm (9,260km).

The company has talked about a mid-2020 entry-into-service – a timeline that aligns nicely with the end of Boeing’s 787 deliveries to American.

Seymour speculates the NMA could possibly perform well on American’s routes to cities like Prague and Budapest – markets to which it currently deploys 767s, but will presumably serve with 787s following 767 retirements.

The NMA could also possibly replace 777-200s on routes where the larger widebody has too much capacity and range, he adds.

Story updated on 13 April to note that Boeing's NMA could replace American's A330s. The story previously specified the A330-200.

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