Where Is Boeing’s Next New Airplane?

Is the Transonic Bruss braced wing design set to be Boeing's next new airplane in the 2030s?

Understanding what is next for significant aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing can be one of the many challenges within the industry.

Boeing’s next new airplane has received much focus in recent history but, ultimately, has yet to be released.

Therefore, the question remains: where is Boeing’s next new airplane, what would it be, and why haven’t we seen it yet?

An Optimal Time For Launch At Boeing Goes Begging

In the late 2010s, there was much discussion over the optimal time to launch Boeing’s next new airplane. By this point, the company had launched its 737 MAX and 787 and had already ceased production on the popular 757 and 767 passenger units.

As Airbus began progressing further with its A321neo series, including in 2019 the launch of the highly advanced A321XLR, analysts turned to Boeing to see how they would respond, assuming something had been in the works to compete.

Unfortunately, due to the 737 MAX crisis, 787 quality assurance problems emerged among delays inbound to the 777X certification program. The focus at the plane maker had taken a dramatic shift. While seen as an optimal time for a new plane launch, several other vital areas of the business needed addressing first, with these all being

Additionally, there were pressing concerns about the certification of the remaining 737 MAX variants, which had also been put to the side by 2019 in favour of the general re-approval of the family.

All this doesn’t mean, however, that there haven’t been question marks over where Boeing’s next plane lies and how what many thought to be an optimal time to launch a competitor to Airbus went begging.

A Final Nail In The Coffin For Boeing’s New Plane

During one of Boeing’s investor days towards the beginning of November 2022, the final nail in the coffin regarding an upcoming new middle market airliner, often described as Boeing’s next new airplane, arrived.

Boeing’s new chief executive put out the flames that may have been there for the type, with it being firmly announced that we can rule out any development on the plane until after 2030. This leaves a critical market that Boeing will not be present in all, primarily to Airbus, until well into the next decade.

It was essential also to understand that the company would look towards the 2030s when they would head back to the drawing board rather than an actual release. Thus, it could be more towards the mid-2030s, per comments from their chief, when a new plane will arrive.

Why Wait Till The 2030s For A New Plane?

Why is this exactly? Boeing wants to ensure it can provide adequate resources for a new aircraft or its next new airplane. The plane maker will look towards utilising the next generation of unproven technology.

Boeing believes releasing an aircraft now would not only see the project be rushed but, in addition, may not harbour enough significant improvements to justify the price tag or the longevity in the industry. This comes as airlines approach or are concluding a review of their current and next-generation fleet to meet efficiency goals.

Conflicting Stance On Boeing’s Opinions

Boeing’s stance has always received conflicting opinions from analysts, enthusiasts, and the general public.

One side believed that not releasing a plane now would be detrimental to the long-term success of the American manufacturer in the sector as Airbus would have an unrivalled shot at collecting market share.

This can be especially highlighted when airlines and leasing companies express their desires for such a plane, but those desires remain unfilled.

Others believe Boeing’s lack of a subsequent new airplane comes through no fault of their own and isn’t related directly to awaiting new technology; instead, it is missing the boat.

If Boeing proceeded with a plane now, it wouldn’t enter service likely until the late 2020s or even early 2030s. Airbus’ options are either already certified or a matter of months away. Boeing, therefore, wouldn’t have a product ready and, with the technology available now, wouldn’t have an actual next-generation plane available to customers.

Others applaud Bopeing waiting and believe the time and allocated resources mean their next market entry will return to their previous nature of offering revolutionary aircraft to their customers.

Understanding The Problems With Waiting

A consensus, though, can be made that waiting makes the most sense at this point in the industry, but at the same time, it also makes sense that not moving forward with an NMA has been detrimental to their performance in the sector. Additionally, allowing their competitor Airbus to gain a monumental, uncontested upper hand cannot be ignored.

This upper hand now set to be obtained by the European plane maker can see them attract existing loyal Boeing customers and potentially swing future orders their way. It can especially come for customers hoping for a new Boeing plane but now faces the reality that it won’t come when they need it.

Providing an Airbus order was placed, the customer and the plane maker would have nearly a decade of relationship building before Boeing entered with its next aircraft. As a result, that leaves more than ample time for a solid relationship to foster and see Boeing pushed to the side.

While this isn’t a defining reason, in the 2030s, Airbus may have obtained an upper hand in the relationship side of things with the plane maker to offer what they need under a more suitable deal when the time comes.

The Dated Boeing 737

Looking ahead, though, addressing the dated 737 design is another critical talking point for the American plane maker. Some analysts believe Boeing pushed too far with the MAX to compete with Airbus, and the consensus is that their next plane needs to be a step away from the 737.

Boeing is already studying key designs and revolutionary technology towards the end of this decade that, if successful, could make its way into the next commercial airplane. However, question marks would remain on whether a 737 replacement would also cover the A321XLR, 757 and 767 markets.

Positives From Waiting To Launch A New Plane

While disappointing, the wait for Boeing’s next new airplane will be longer than initially anticipated. Still, it can also harbour several significant positives for a company that’s had it rough recently.

This would include enhanced technology to see Boeing make leaps and strides over its previous aircraft. Therefore, the thinking would be the plane would be a worthy upgrade for customers seeking a new aircraft.

Additionally, studying next-generation technologies should allow Boeing to unveil an aircraft similar to planes in the late 1990s, which are viewed as significant and revolutionary upgrades.

Many would argue that has been missing from Boeing planes for some time as the plane maker, alongside Airbus, has attempted to capture market share and fend each other off rather than take the time to study the next generation.

Ultimately, how the future plays out for Boeing remains to be seen, but their next new airplane will likely be some time away.

Daniel Fowkes
28 Nov 2023
· Aircraft 

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