30 January 2010

The Rehabilitation Of Mike Bair and The 737

The guy who took the fall for the first set of 787 delays - Mike Bair - is now coming back to lead the effort to solve the most important decision for Boeing. What to do with the 737 - Boeing's cash cow.

The Boeing 737 is the most successful airliner in history. While its a relatively simple design - it has stood the test of time and has shown itself to be an eminently flexible product. It has taken the place of its larger sibling at birth (727) and the larger plane's own child - the 757. It has been used for all forms of different applications, all with the same basic design.

Boeing has decided to not mess with success and has clearly laid out that it will not support a brand new design. So the Bair led effort already has a simple mission. New engine and probably a new or upgraded wing.

It is also likely that the 737 will get a little bit of a stretch given that the 787-3 has been abandoned. Raked wing tips vs Winglets will also be reviewed.

If I was to speculate - I believe that Boeing will use the time to also create baseline designs and some options for the 737 replacement aircraft. Why? To counter anything else that Airbus may do. While the European subsidiary of EADS has no money to even countenance a major redesign of the A320 it is a newer airframe design and has the potential for a lot more activity and upgrades. One key benefit is the engine position and the higher undercarriage. The 737 has suffered from this issue since the CFM's were installed.

The battle for engine supremacy has taken a major turn. In the last round of engine decisions P&W was the big loser. This time round the P&W seems to be leading the charge.

So Bair has his work cut out for him. Clearly he is back in the fold.


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