B757 successor discussion - again!

Again, there is an interesting story about the much-talked-about B757 successor in the press. Now, as I wrote earlier I do not see a business case for that aircraft. As Addison Schonland from airinsight pointed out here, just about 50 B757 are currently flying routes the A321neo and B737MAX-9 will not be able to serve.

So what could be behind the story? I see two possible scenarios:

1.    Absolutely nothing! Maybe Mr. Foster, President of Air Astana, just wants to test the waters and hopes that other airline CEO’s and influential people join the discussion, raising the pressure for Boeing – and for Airbus, which would have to react once Boeing would announce to do something.

2.    Boeing sees that the B737MAX-9 is inferior to the A321neo and uses Mr. Foster to tell airlines around the world not to buy anymore A321neo as a better aircraft could be “just around the corner”.

I think it is more likely that it it something like scenario 1. Investing billions of dollars in such a small niche and, as Air Astana’s CEO suggested, to announce the development now with an EIS that could not be before the middle of the next decade (see Scott Hamiltons comments here) just would not make sense. Sales for the B737MAX-9 would probably suffer more than for the A321neo, as Boeing’s customer base will be more willing to wait as the customer base of Airbus, which is easier for Airbus to keep in their camp.

Also, as Scott pointed out, it would be a family of aircraft, replacing the B737MAX-8, -9 and the B757-200 (for sure not the B737MAX-7). With the 2000+ sales of the B737MAX one can calculate that the production horizon reaches until almost 2023 now. So why prevent further sales of the B737MAX now by announcing a successor too soon? It just won’t happen! Not now!


Transition times...

The next years it is all about transitioning! Well, I could divagate into what "transitioning" means for every one of us and if the whole world and the whole universe is transitioning from one state into the next every second...
No, it's only about aircraft programs this time. But there will be so much transitioning that one has to keep the real overview about what is happening.
First, there is the transition from the A320ceo to the A320neo. Aside from a recent hiccup in engine testing with an engine (PW1500G) very similar to the launch engine (PW1100G) for the A320neo there is no real threat for a smooth transition in production. The A320ceo is effectively sold out. At the end of April there were 1555 A320ceo family aircraft in the backlog. That should be enough to cover the outgoing production until 2018.
It is a little bit different for the B737NG and the transition to the B737MAX. Although officials from Boeing keep saying that the B737NG is sold out as well. But at the end of April there were 1791 copies in the books and Boeing's B737MAX comes almost two years later than the A320neo. But the difference of 240 aircraft in the backlog does not provide almost two additional years of production. So Boeing must have sold an additional 650 or so B737NG to cover production until full transition to the B737MAX.
Next is the B777: there were 286 open orders in the books at the end of April, covering 35 months of production at the current rate of 8.3 aircraft/month. This gets Being into 2017, but the B777X has an EIS of late 2019. A two year gap, so a rate cut is very likely, as Scott Hamilton reported.
Then there is the widely expected launch of the A330neo. There were 260 A330 series aircraft in the backlog at the end of April, lasting 26 months at the current rate of 10/month until mid 2016. The A330neo is expected to enter airline service in late 2017 or early 2018, so a rate cut is also almost a given here.
To be clear: both the B777 and the A330 will have a few further sales, but it won't be enough to bridge production with the current output rates.
Did I forget something? Yes - Embraer!
At the end of Q1 2014 there were 264 EJets in the backlog. Subtract 24 from Jetblue which will not be taken (at least not in the E1 version) and 7 for Nasair (they recently got rid of all their EJets and "transition" to an all Airbus fleet), so that is 233. Production is about 90 aircraft per year - that gets Embraer into the last quarter of 2016. I expect some options drawn for additional E175's for the three big american airlines (AA, DL and UA). But will these get them to a smooth transition to the E2 series jets, which should have an EIS in 2018 (E190E2), 2019 (E195) and 2020 (E175). I doubt that - Embraer should hurry up...