1/12/2011

IndiGo launches the A320NEO

Well, here he is: IndiGo, the first customer for the A320NEO. A massive 150 aircraft order means a good start for the programme. Expect more big orders to come soon...
Coincidentally, Scott Hamilton talked about the prediction by Buckingham Research that Boeing will come out with two new models to replace the B717, B737 and B757 by 2018 and will launch this effort officially by late 2011 or 2012.
While Scott (or Buckingham) does not go into details, I guess this would be a single aisle aircraft for the reĆ¼placement of the B717 and the lower end of the B737 and the "New Light Twin", which was briefly mentioned by Scott at the end of last year for the upper end of the B737 and the B757.
While it would be a good strategy in principle to replace three aircraft (families) with two new ones, I doubt that it will be that fast. How good can these aircraft be - or, in other words, how much better than the NEO? Engines for a 2018 EIS can only be slightly better than for the NEO with EIS 2016. And both CFM and PW have their hands full with developing the engines for the C919 and NEO (CFM) as well as the MRJ, CSeries, MS21 and NEO (PW). So one should not expect a completely new engine by the two manufacturers by 2018 but just minor improvements, which could also be sold to Airbus. And I do not expect RR to catch up in the 30k engine market by then - they lost the NEO competition and they have their hands full with their Trent programmes.
So the advantage has to come from the airframe. As of today, it is not clear if the A320/B737 successors will be build from carbonfibres. Bombardier opted for AlLi, apparently for good reasons.
To be clear, a new aircraft frame  by Boeing by 2018 would of course be better than the A320 frame, there would be 30 years between them. But would it be enough? - I doubt it!
The other question of course: does Boeing have the money to do it and the backing from their shareholders? Developing two aircraft takes a lot of ressources - manpower and money. If they do it, I expect the japanese to take over large parts of the responsibility for the smaller aircraft.
Another fascinating year in aviation just started!