Since Boeing’s earnings call last week, spurred on by the Flight International and Everett Herald stories doubting the future of the 747-8 program, we’ve received media inquiries whether we think the program will be canceled.
For those who missed or already forgot our first post of 2009, the answer to this is No. We called 2009 the year of program recovery for Boeing, and this included then and includes now the 747 program. Nothing has happened to change our view.
Our post earlier this week, Keeping or Ditching the 747?, added some color and independent reporting to the stories in Flight and The Herald. We reported–as did Flight–that Boeing has run various scenarios about what to do with the program: cancel it entirely, or keep the freighter but cancel the passenger model, or slow the program down.
For those who understand Boeing’s way of doing things, running all scenarios is SOP, Standard Operating Procedure. For those who understand Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, he’s going to want all options laid out for him. This is his SOP.
Word of these studies quickly became known.
Jon Ostrower has an interesting think piece about the prospect of Ryanair ordering up to 400 Airbus A320s or Boeing 737s powered by the new Pratt & Whitney GTF, or Geared Turbo Fan P1000G.
We first broke the story that Boeing is evaluating the prospect of 737 “re-generation” for an article we did for Aviation and the Environment magazine. P&W is developing the engine for Mitsubishi’s MRJ regional jet and Bombardier’s CSeries, but both airplanes are small. The MRJ seats 70-90 and the CSeries 110-149, but the MRJ has only one order in Japan and the CSeries continues (at this writing) to be stillborn. P&W has been developing the GTF for 20 years; without re-engining the A320 or 737, this investment is pretty much down the drain.
With Boeing and Airbus seemingly putting off a full replacement airplane for their prime jets until around 2020 or even later, airlines–notably Southwest–want a more fuel efficient airplane before then. The GTF would save 12%-15% on fuel burn. As we wrote for AE magazine, Boeing is on track to make some decisions for a 737RG this year with a prospect for an EIS in the 2013-15 period. This is a timeframe P&W can meet to provide the GTF to Boeing.
Airbus, of course, provided an A340-600 test bed for P&W to get some good data for the GTF. This information went to Airbus’ R&D department, where evaluation of a GTF A320 is almost a certainty.
Or not. James Wallace of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Airbus super-chief John Leahy says there aren’t any talks going on with Ryanair.