So this guy on YouTube says that Boeing has an opportunity to “leapfrog” the competition, or the market, or a river in Hell perhaps, by pulling the “Future Small Aircraft” from the longer-term future to the shorter-term.
I say no way. Now maybe there’s a case, but so far I don’t see it. Here’s the video, and then I explain my thinking.
Boeing skipping NMA and going straight to FSA would hardly be “leapfrogging” anything. Look, I love Boeing, and I have all my life — RAH RAH RAH. AirBus sucks and their miserable man-machine interface design philosophy has been killing people for a very long time. Boeing is new to this whole automation-killing-passengers game. SO believe me when I say I’m a Boeing man through and through.
That said, regardless of the details of MCAS, Boeing has hiked way out on surprisingly bad decisions, and now they are getting levered out of their own position as those iffy bets fail together. Delay NMA for 737-class program? Check. Re-vamp 737 instead of a new build? Check. Try to squeeze new behavior under the old type cert? Check. Now it’s too late to build the NMA, where AirBus is going to make a LOT of money that could have been Boeing’s. The FSA is the problem that the 737 Max was supposed to solve. Now the 737 Max has eaten all of the R&D time and has a monopoly on Boeing small production, which is going cold because every Max in the world is parked. Before this is all over, watch Boeing offer buy-two-get-one-free just to clear out the grid-locked parking lots of 737 Maxes just getting old in the sun and the rain. With zero miles, these planes will be the opposite of a bargain — “New, but like Used”.
Now that 737 Max is a fact on the ground (so to speak), if Boeing builds the FSA, it will mean that every dollar spent building the Max was a waste of money and time. If they are seriously floating the FSA, it means the Max is doomed, either altogether, or doomed to be sold new at used prices just to retain the workforce until they can start building something that they can charge real money for. Either way, there’s no “leapfrogging” for Boeing from the horrific strategic position that they are in anywhere from the 767 down.
Frankly, the 767 redux is a better bet than the FSA, even with crippled efficiency. Unlike the 757, the 767 has benefitted from continuing improvements to the product, as it is still being made, although for niche applications. A Boeing FSA would compete primarily against the 737, making the Max an expensive redundancy. Unless Boeing is prepared to scrap not just the Max program, but the existing Max airframes, FSA is bad business for Boeing.
Here’s what I always thought Boeing should have done with the 737 Max, once it became apparent that the existing gear was too short to fit bigger engines in the proper location:
IMHO, this would have been simpler than the ridiculous crutch and bra-strap arrangement that they settled on for the -10, and it would have obviated the need for the engine placement “solution” and its apparently unacceptable effect on the dynamic center of pressure at high angles of attack. You just build taller gear and fold it back like Buffalo Bill.
Or they could just take my EARLIER idea, and build another 727.