Boeing Looks To Reimagine The 757 & 767 In Place Of NMA

As the aviation industry continues to plow through a challenging year, Boeing’s attention is turning to the future.…

Boeing Looks To Reimagine The 757 & 767 In Place Of NMA

As the aviation industry continues to plow through a challenging year, Boeing’s attention is turning to the future. Despite a terrible first quarter for the US planemaker, the key to its recovery will be a strong vision of what the future industry needs. With plans for the NMA shelved, Boeing could now be contemplating a revamp of the 757 and 767 programs to meet future demand.

Could a new 757 take the place of the NMA? Photo: Getty Images

Boeing looks to the future

Since David Calhoun took the reins at Boeing at the beginning of the year, all bets for the planemaker’s next new model have been off. The previously anticipated New Midsize Airplane (NMA), widely referred to as the 797, was abruptly shelved amid reports that the new CEO wanted to take a fresh look at the entire Boeing lineup.

Since then, the coronavirus crisis has changed the aviation landscape drastically. With next to no demand for air travel, the need for new aircraft has dried up too. Both Boeing and its rival Airbus have been dealing with cancellations and deferrals of orders, not to mention considerable losses in the first quarter.

Nevertheless, Boeing appears focused on the future, as a spokesperson told Reuters yesterday,

“We’ll continue to look at what the future market will need and invest in research and development.”

797 Concept
The 797/NMA might be something very different. Photo: DJ’s Aviation

That development, it seems, involves a new look at the NMA, but perhaps not the clean sheet design we’d been anticipating. According to the Reuters report, the firm is looking at one new 757 style aircraft, while also giving the 767 something of a refresh.

The 767 refresh

Back in the fall of last year, it was rumored that Boeing was in discussion with General Electric about a 767X, a revamped widebody with new engines that make it fit for the future. There was some mention of new wings as well, although Boeing never confirmed any such plans.

The final passenger 767 was delivered in 2014, but since then, the production line has been ticking over with a slew of orders for freighter variants. There remains a backlog of 86 of the type, mostly for the 767-300F with a few military KC-46 also.

767-100 Getty
The 767 has found a new lease of life as a freighter but needs an upgrade to meet emissions requirements. Photo: Getty Images

While the aircraft has a healthy future as a freighter, it needs upgrading to meet emissions standards by 2028. This could well involve new engines, and could open the door to a new passenger variant too. With all the tooling still in place, a new and improved 767X is not entirely off the table yet.

The 757-Plus

With the rising interest for high efficiency, long-haul narrowbody aircraft, Boeing needs to come up with a plan to prevent an Airbus monopoly. The forthcoming A321XLR sets a new standard in small, versatile planes, and is being marketed by Airbus as an NMA solution. Boeing has a large number of customers who are still flying the now obsolete 757 and will be keen to provide a replacement for these aging aircraft.

According to the Reuters report, any replacement for the 757 would need to have a greater range and more passenger seats than the original version. Apparently, it is already being nicknamed internally the ‘757-Plus’.

Boeing 757
A 757-Plus could tick a number of NMA boxes. Photo: Getty Images

Such an aircraft would tick many of the 797 boxes; an enhanced range to compete with the XLR, likely around 5,000 nautical miles, and a similar or higher seating capacity, probably 250 or so. While a 757-Plus would lack the twin-aisle configuration that was perceived to be a must in the NMA, its ability to connect point to point destinations economically would likely offset its narrowbody downsides.

Overall

As we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, the world’s planemaker will be asking themselves what sort of an aviation marketplace they are going to be going into. We’ve already seen numerous large widebody aircraft retired, and Boeing has already anticipated a slowdown in the production of its flagship 777X.

If large widebodies are no longer in demand, Boeing would do well to get working on replacements for the 757 and 767. A timely release of the right aircraft for the market conditions could help the manufacturer overcome what has to be one of the worst years imaginable.

What do you think? A clean sheet NMA or a refresh of the 757 and 767? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Airbus Scraps E-Fan X Electric Hybrid Jet

Airbus has today announced that it is scrapping its plans to launch a hybrid-electric aircraft called the E-Fan…

Airbus Scraps E-Fan X Electric Hybrid Jet

Airbus has today announced that it is scrapping its plans to launch a hybrid-electric aircraft called the E-Fan X. The aircraft was a part of a project between Airbus and Rolls-Royce, which was launched in 2017. However, given the ongoing pandemic and its impact on the airline industry, Airbus has assessed that further development on this project is not viable at the moment.

Rolls Royce and Airbus are currently working on testing hybrid technology. Photo: Airbus via Rolls Royce

The project was part of the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 vision to develop a quieter and more environment-friendly aircraft. Moreover, the project had reached key milestones and was set to undergo its maiden flight in 2021.

The decision

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Airbus, Grazia Vittadini, has said that the decision has come as a part of Airbus’ strategy to prioritize its current ambitions. She added:

As with all ground-breaking R&T projects, it’s our duty to constantly evaluate and reprioritize them to ensure alignment with our ambitions. These decisions are not always easy. But they’re undoubtedly necessary to stay the course.

Over that, Rolls-Royce CTO Paul Stein has openly stated that the cancellation of the project was a mutual decision based on the current situation. He said,” it has become clear to both parties that the actual requirement to carry out a test flight with all the elements integrated is not critical at this time.”

Moreover, he reasoned that as an aircraft, E-Fan X was always designed to be a demonstrator. There were no plans to put the plane into commercial service. Hence, the scrapping of aircraft development was justified as the industry has bigger problems to solve right now.

Airbus is prioritizing adaptation to the current crisis over the development of futuristic aircraft. Photo: Airbus

Aircraft design and learnings

E-Fan X was to be made out of various components of pre-existing electric and aircraft manufacturers. The body of the aircraft was planned to be the same as that of British Aerospace (BAe) 146. However, one out of four of its Lycoming turbofans was to be replaced by a Siemens 2 MW (2700 hp) electric motor. Although most of the aircraft was pretty much similar to a BAe 146, E-Fan X was expected to demonstrate the capabilities of electric-powered airplanes.

Unfortunately, the design has been scrapped even before the aircraft took its first flight. But, Airbus and Rolls-Royce have both been content with the lessons and learnings that they have gained from this project. Specifically, those relating to hybrid architectures, high-voltage systems, and battery technologies. Airbus’ innovation segment is already using some of these breakthroughs for other purposes.

Despite the abandoning of the E-Fan X project, Stein has said that Rolls-Royce will independently keep working on the power generation systems to capture all the possible lessons. This involves the integration of the generator with its control and thermal management systems. This means that Rolls-Royce will continue with the development of the electric engine, which can be fitted on any aircraft in the near future.

Airbus E Fan X plans
A layout of E-Fan X. We can expect similar aircraft in the future. Photo: Airbus

To conclude, although the plan might be officially canceled, we can be hopeful to see Rolls-Royce contributing to a similar hybrid-electric aircraft soon.

Do you think the cancellation of E-Fan X was the right decision? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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