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Jury is still out on new midmarket airplane

LONDON – A global survey undertaken jointly by Aviation Week Network and BofA Merrill Lynch of more than 200 global airlines shows a high level of industry interest in Boeing‘s proposed new midmarket aircraft (NMA), but potential customers highlight requirements differing from the preliminary design.

According to the survey, 82% of participating airlines were interested in the proposal. However, 90% of them stated a preference for an aircraft with fewer than 250 seats in two classes. Forty-eight percent of airlines favored between 150 and 199 seats.

The survey, which updates a similar NMA survey conducted two years ago by Aviation Week Network and BoFA Merrill Lynch, indicates that airlines are more interested in a smaller aircraft that looks more like a replacement for the 737 MAX than the much larger and more capable design that Boeing is discussing. According to the survey, 76% of the participating carriers would be satisfied with a range of 5,000 nm or less; 45% would not need an aircraft with a range of more than 4,000 nm.

“The survey provides new insights about what airlines are telling Boeing they want the NMA to look like,” said Aviation Week Network Editorial Director Joe Anselmo. “Such inputs will be vital as Boeing tries to close the business case for the small widebody during the coming year.”

Airline interest largely depends on how Boeing will price the NMA. According to the survey, 81% of the airlines said they would pay no more than $72 million per unit, a level that is equivalent to large narrowbodies today. The price is based on a 240-seat aircraft; the actual NMA versions would be around 10% smaller or bigger.

In addition to an in-depth special report on the NMA project, Aviation Week Network editors have produced a wide array of exclusive content for the airshow that will be rolled out on AviationWeek.com, ShowNews, the Aviation Week Intelligence Network, Aviation Week & Space Technology and InsideMRO. Among them:

  • Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg talks about the company’s aggressive vertical integration push, the U.S. trade dispute with China and his goal of making Boeing an “industrial champion”
  • As the C Series becomes the A220, a report on how consolidation of aircraft manufacturers is reshaping the industry
  • Airbus chief Tom Enders explains why data is critical to his company’s future
  • A report on how leading defense companies are placing their bets – and key military competitions to watch
  • UTAS President Dave Gitlin looks ahead to his company’s merger with Rockwell Collins

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