Two different concepts for a B757 successor emerged over the last few weeks.
First, there was an article by "The Motley Fool" (not exactly an aviation expert website) speculating about a B757MAX (and Scott Hamilton from Leeham Co. confirming these rumours), with composite wings and a new engine. Although this rumour was quickly dismissed by Steve Wilhelm from the Puget Sound Business Journal and another "Fool" and Boeing itself assured that they are not planning any B757MAX, it would be a relatively straigthforward and easy way to fight against the A321neo, as the numbers and the market already showed that the B737MAX-9 will be an inferior aircraft (I expect some announcements in the not too distant future that will further show that Boeing has a problem here). A new wing, new wingbox and new engines (which would be a few percentage points better in SFC than the PW1100G and the LEAP-1A) would provide enough improvement to be a very good aircraft for thin transatlantic routes. But then what? Airbus would not stand by and could develop a A322 with a similar fuselage length, also a new wing and wingbox and the same engines. And with successors for both of the narrowbody families planned for 2030+ that will likely start at today's B737-800 size, an EIS around 2022 would provide a production run of 10 years at best. So that concept does not really make sense.
Meanwhile also Scott Hamilton wrote another article about the subject, making clear that the "757 replacement" can only be part of a new family of aircraft, starting at the B737-800NG/B737MAX-8 size and topping at about 240 passengers, set by the aspirations from Airbus regarding the A321neo and that an EIS would be not anytime soon, i.e. not 2022.
The other concept emerged from an article by Aspire Aviation and this is completely different. Daniel Tsang proposes a small twin aisle family with a 2-3-2 seating configuration, comprising of two models between 200 and 240 seats. This of course would be a clean sheet design with the associated high development costs. The B737MAX family would still sell, he thinks, for shorter routes, as the "NSA" (New Small Airplane, not the other one...) would be optimised for routes around 4000nm in a 200-220 seat 2-class layout (where a B737MAX-9 and a A321neo would have to trade range versus payload).
But would the market be large enough for such an aircraft to justify a completely new aircraft, built from (today) very expensive carbon fibres? I think: yes and no! No, as I think the seat count of 200-240 would not cover a market potential large enough. And yes, if this NSA (albeit then not so "small") would occupy a larger part of the market, ranging from the B757-200 all the way up to the B767-300, say, from 220-280 passengers and a range around 4,500nm, to cover transatlantic flights between the US East Coast and Europe. This aircraft would have the potential to replace all the B757-200W, B767-300ER, A330-200/300 and maybe also some B787-8 that are used on these routes today (and more then).
Now: could this aircraft be the first Boeing to be powered by a geared engine?
A few weeks ago Rolls Royce very openly committed themselves to the geared technology and pursues such an engine for 2025. As I do not believe we would see the "NSA" (I would call it "NST", for "New Small Twin") before 2025, that could fit in Boeing's time planning.
Now with two of the big engine companies in the "geared camp" what will GE do? My bet: the next generation of narrowbody engines (beyond the A320neo/B737MAX generation) will be "geared only" - including GE! Of course nobody from GE (or Safran) will say so openly today, because that would mean to admit concede against the "gear". But I am sure that behind the scenes GE is working closely with their new affiliate Avio Aero in Italy (providing the Fan Drive Gear System for the PW1100G) to have a an engine architecture ready for the mid 2020's. And Snecma is working on a geared open rotor in the Clean Sky project.
Boeing‘s Randy Tinseth can’t resist to screw every statistics in his (i.e. Boeing’s ) favour. This makes him of course no different from John Leahy, head of sales at Airbus. Now, after Air Canada firmed up their order for 61 B737MAX yesterday, Tinseth claimed that the B737MAX gained more than 50% of the market since it’s first order. Granted – Boeing has now 1908 firm orders for the B737MAX in the books and Airbus sold “just” 1521 A320neo since the first order for the B737MAX from Southwest Airlines. But does that really matter? Boeing’s first firm order for the B737MAX from Southwest Airlines in December 2011 came more than one year after the launch of the A320neo on Dec. 1st, 2010 and Airbus booked the first order for the A320eo from Virgin America in late December that year. By the time of the first B737MAX order Airbus already had 1,176 firm orders for the A320neo family and so they had 89.55% of the market (“Neo vs. MAX”).
In 2012, the first full year where the B737MAX was available, Boeing had the upper hand: 949 firm order for the B737MAX meant a 66.5% market share for that year with Airbus being in the overall lead with 61.6% (1,764 vs. 1,099 orders).
In 2013 the picture reversed in favor of Airbus –they sold another 937 A320neo aircraft where Boeing gained “only” 703. Overall Airbus held a market share of 59.7%.
Until today in 2014 Boeing sold 117 B737MAX – Airbus sold 57 A320neo. So one could conclude that the market lead for Airbus dwindles away. But there are a few large already won campaigns for Airbus to be firmed up: Tigerair (37 A/C), China Eastern (70 A/C), ANA (30 A/C) and a few others – like Monarch – are waiting for their winner. So I guess Airbus’s John Leahy will soon have an answer for Tinseth’s anaylsis with his own statistics.
The better choice than throwing with statistics would maybe be that both gentlemen would unite to sing the Hot Chocolate song "Everyone's a winner" - although I cannot imagine them singing together the line "Making love to you is such a thrill..."...
In retrospective, the decision by Airbus to launch the A320neo brought record full order books for both and helped both to fend off Bombardier's CSeries. And there is some truth of course in the claim that SVP Andy Shankland from Airbus made at the ISTAT America this year, that it would be fair to say that the B737MAX was launched in Toulouse. So Randy could bring a bottle of wine to the party to celebrate their appearance in front of the aviation audience. I would give a fortune to see and hear them...