I respectfully disagree. As I stated in other threads on the subject, and I'm not alone on this, it all comes down to timing. Boeing could have an A321XLR competitor/MOM/NSA/737-10 upgrade/Whatever ready to fly in about five years. This assumes that engine advances make it worthwhile and efficient enough to invest capital in such a program. What will be happening in about five years? Hopefully, the pandemic will be over and airlines and leasing agencies will have enough cash to begin investing in new aircraft, economies will be improving and there will be enough cash flow to justify new orders. Airlines can't keep flying old metal forever, and Airbus can't meet every A321-ish order; there simply isn't enough factory space available even if Mobile ramped up more. So...
Timing is everything. If the pandemic ends and air travel begins coming back significantly in about five years, which I believe it will, then Boeing will have a nice modern bird ready for the airlines to order. But again, the timing must be well nigh perfect and they can't afford any major delays or pitfalls. This must be done absolutely right the first time. The real question is whether Boeing has the backbone to undertake such a risk right now. Personally, I don't see how they can't. You either evolve or die, and they've about run out of older models to upgrade and update. No more derivatives. They need something new. Time to evolve and be creative. Boeing really has no other choice.
To others (I'm building on the above, not rebutting):
I too disagree. The proposed -9ER has merit. There is so much absolutism today. I believe the A321xLR and A321NEO will outsell the -10, but that isn't the same as writing off the competition. FR wants the -10, so Boeing will continue. The cost to put the -10 gear on the -9 is low, so the project to improve the -9 will continue. Heck, we could see the gear on the -8 for an incredible short field performance.
That isn't to say Airbus won't do incredibly well. But Boeing has a history of improvements. The 737 is actually a great example of how improvements can sell for an incredibly long time. They made one HUGE mistake with trying to hide MCAS. That is in the past. I'll discuss the future which is getting back to manufacturing economy of scales. Boeing will have to do a new narrowbody earlier than Airbus. They will.
But first, get in money which means expanding the MAX line's sales. That is the -10, PiPs, a probably -9ER, possibly extending the gear to the -8. I write off the -7 as that is a niche aircraft (as is the A319NEO).
With that being said. Wouldn't it be better to put those billions of dollars, resources and time into working on MAX replacement instead? I mean if they want a head start, they need to do it now.
Setting up new production line, developing new models, setting up connections with suppliers for the new project and working with engine manufactures.
As everyone says here, updated MAX9 and MAX10 would be extremely limited in terms of orders. Why not pull the plug now like they did on B747?
Airbus already got a head start with A220. They could easily stretch A220-300 to A220-500, this could replace A320neo. While they would beef up and spam the market with cheap A321neo and A321XLR once the order start to dried up.
It won't be billions though - the parts exist - it's mainly just a question of bolting different ones together and flight testing them.
Personally I think an 738ER could be a hot ticket with wing and MTOW of -10 - using the gear if needed. If in a post Covid world of lower passenger demand it could really help reestablish old route frequencies.
It won't be 5 years either before a new bird would be in production - clean sheet would probably be lucky to deliver in 2028.
It also makes a lot of sense to do the big wing (or folding wing to fit in existing gate) version first - to prove the new line at lower volumes before moving on to a MAX 8/9/10 replacement with non-folding wing that fits in existing gates.
You then don't cannibalize MAX - but MAX needs to be produced probably until early 2030's which means PIP's and ER's are required. Those could be launched now at very little cost and be delivering in 2-3 years (The ER's).
Lightsaber is right about economies of Scale. One reason why Boeing was more profitable was mainly due to centralized production (one 737 line vs what 4 or 5 A320 lines?).
This is where Boeing can get a one up - build the 757/737 replacement in one spot using high automation with the design optimized for automated production.
With Boeing doing a lot of the primary structure in highly automated factories to cut out supplier margins.
They could take millions out of labour costs. Something Airbus due to its structure will have a very tough time replicating.
Can you imagine the political fights if Airbus tried to replace the A320 and build it using a lot more robots in one location?
As I said before the next aircraft to dominate the SA space may be the one that figures out out how to reduce labour costs the most and can be sold at a profit - not the one that is 1% better in fuel burn than the other.
That being said China can't be forgotten as a serious competitor in the SA space by the end of this decade. I'm sure they will have no problem selling at way below production cost to take market share with the C919.
Boeing and Airbus better get cracking at figuring out how to produce at a lot lower price before then.