Speaking this week to investors, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, assures the 737 MAX crisis is not affecting its development of new aircraft.
According to FlightGlobal reporting, Boeing’s efforts to return the 737 MAX to service “has not affected – at least not significantly – 777X development or potential development of the “new mid-market airplane (NMA).”
Focused on the safe return to service of the 737 MAX
Muilenburg told investors:
“I want to stress and reiterate the point that we are very, very focused on the safe return to service of the Max, and that remains our top priority.”
And that “in parallel” to returning the 737 MAX to operation:
“Our team has been very strong about continuing to drive 777X development and performance.”
The CEO says in terms of a “ripple impact or potential impact to the 777X, Boeing hasn’t seen “any direct impact.”
Boeing had planned an unveiling of the 777X on March 13. This event was canceled immediately after the March 10, Ethiopian Airlines crash. The crash led to the global grounding of all 737 MAX planes.
Muilenburg revealed there has been two 777X flight tests from the Boeing Everett factory. And, two more of the planes are in final assembly stages.
Working in parallel on new developments
During the recent earnings call for investors, Boeing was questioned as to whether the 737 MAX crisis has affected the company’s plans for the currently concept new mid-market airplane, the NMA. The CEO answered:
“Certainly the highest priority for us is the 737 Max safe return to service… We have prioritised our resources accordingly as we continue to work on our NMA effort in parallel.”
The NMA is pitched as a 757 replacement and rival to the Airbus A321. If developed it would have between 200 and 270 seats. Boeing is reportedly still working on a 2025 “entry-into-service” date for the NMA. Muilenburg said:
“We still have work to do before we get to an authority-to-offer a decision. We’re still working on a pace to try to do that this year, as we previously announced.”
He also added that if the committee put in place to review Boeing’s design and development process after the 737 MAX issues “finds areas to improve” then Boeing “will certainly adopt those.”
On March 15, Simple Flying questioned whether the Boeing 797 would be delayed due to the 737 MAX crisis. Speculating at the time that its launch could be expected this year, potentially at the Paris Air Show. Though details are unverified, Boeing may produce two models of the B797. As a different aircraft to the 737 MAX, it’s likely that completely different teams are working on each project.
Indeed, Muilenburg assures investors that the 737 MAX is the priority, but that Boeing is also working on new developments in parallel.