Boeing should just focus on one wing and what that will be. I think it is in their interest to build a bigger wing for a 100t to 125t aircraft first, and get as much mileage out of the 737 wing and MAX as possible.
Lots of people mention having a big wing and small wing using the same cross section. With a 30% difference in MTOW there should only be 20-30% commonality between the two aircraft. Different landing gear, engines, wingbox, fuselage stringers, tail etc. Even the nose gear should be stronger.
Even if it were only 20-30% commonality in parts, that's still a valuable advantage too have. Apart from that you would have a single cockpit and some ability to adjust production rate allocation between the high and low MTOW model within a stable overall rate, based on the developments in the market, at your competitor and technological opportunities.
That said, I also think we will see a narrower than A330 widebody in the future, although more likely from Airbus and possibly a bit wider and more capable.
Yes, but what is in it for Boeing? If there is no 797/NMA airlines have the choice between A330NEO and 787, so Boeing should take 75% of that volume anyway.
I believe what is in it for Boeing is setting the foundation for a new family of narrowbody aircraft that can:
1) Continue the strength of the 737-8 as a flexible up-to-200 seat platform
2) Address the weakness of the 737-9 and 737-10 in the up-to-220-230 seat market
3) Allow Boeing to offer a narrowbody frame with more than 230 seats
4) Scale better than the A321 in the over-240 seat market, especially at the upper end (270-290)
5) Offer similar or better range at higher payload weights than the A321XLR can offer
Where I see the issue is that Boeing will arguably want to start with the 50m and 55m models with the longer span because that will be a smaller overall market so they can iron out the production process before moving to the 40m and 45m models with the 40m span (with folding wingtips to fit in 36m gates) which will be produced at much higher rates. The 737-8 is competitive enough to hold it's own during this period, but the A321neo is still going to be winning RFPs against the 737-9 and 737-10 until the 45m model is introduced.
But I don't really see Boeing having a choice if they do not wish to cede too much of the overall narrowbody market to Airbus over the next 10-20 years.
There are arguments for and against starting with the higher or low MTOW variant.
Arguments for starting with the lower MTOW variant could be:
- Weaker competitor (A220, A319, A320), although Airbus seems to be addressing that with the Bombardier buy out.
- A 36m composite wing would suffice.
- Wing and engine technology leap would perhaps not yet be sufficiently large enough for the high MTOW variant to take on the A321XLR (and future variants), with it's extreme economies of scale and very low R&D cost. I could see Airbus doing a new wing(box) for the A321XLR (variants), but would they do the same for the A320 regular?
- You could keep the 737-8 going for now at a reduced rate because it would still attract orders with it's higher range (remember it's a production restrained market, a 90% perfect plane is better than no plane).
Innovation is seeing opportunity before obstacle.