Boeing will surely be glad for some positive press when the new year comes around. It’s had a particularly harrowing 2019, but as the year draws to a close the airframer seems to be pulling out the stops for a positive 2020. We take a look at how 2020 could change the game for Boeing…
A 2019 to forget
2019 hasn’t been Boeing’s best year by any stretch of the imagination. The airframer has lost significant revenue and customer trust over the grounding of its 737 MAX aircraft. Whilst airlines weigh up what to do as more and more delays seem to hamper the return to service, Boeing is facing problems of its own.
Not only has it pushed back the deadline for the aircraft to return but it recently landed a hefty fine from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The body charged Boeing $3.9 million for faulty slat tracks in its 737 aircraft.
But whilst Boeing’s blunders have been the focus of much media attention this year, 2020 might be looking up. Boeing could make next year one of its most successful, taking the aviation world by storm, and dealing itself a sizeable dose of amnesia when it comes to remembering 2019. Here’s why…
The 737 MAX return
The 737 MAX is a story that has repeatedly hit headlines for the delays and financial implications on airlines. But we’re confident that 2020 will see the return of the 737 MAX. It’s been long enough and Boeing already has launch plans.
So what’s going on at the moment? Well, large international carriers like United Airlines have already extended their MAX groundings until March next year. By which point, Boeing will have marked one year since the initial grounding. But will the aircraft be ready by that point?
In the latest MAX Progress Report, Boeing seemed confident in its ability to return the 737 MAX to service in the new year. The planemaker said:
“…it is possible that the resumption of MAX deliveries to airline customers could begin in December, after certification…we are working towards final validation of the updated training requirements, which must occur before the MAX returns to commercial service, and which we now expect to begin in January.”
It’s currently seeking FAA approval for the aircraft. If all goes well, the 737 MAX is likely to decorate our skies once more as 2020 gets underway.
The return to service of the 737 MAX will mean many things. It will allow Boeing to relieve itself from glowering scrutiny as well as prove to the world that it is confident once more in its manufacturing abilities. What’s more, it will be able to deliver on its pending orders and allow airlines to operate in line with their strategies, prior to the devastation of the MAX grounding. This certainly would be the cherry on the top of an extremely bitter 2019 cake.
From one delay to another, let’s take a look at Boeing’s progress with its 777X. 2020 is the year for 777X flight testing, despite it previously being pinpointed as the year for deliveries. With what seemed like continual engine issues with the installation of the GE9X and a ruptured fuselage, the operational suitability of this aircraft has also been delayed in 2019.
However, Boeing plans to take the first test flight of the aircraft at the start of 2020. In addition to that, Middle Eastern carrier Emirates will rigorously test the aircraft in typical conditions to examine its durability. Providing all goes well, 2020 could be a pivotal year for the 777X, paving the way for deliveries in 2021.
This is not just significant because aircraft orders will be fulfilled. The 777X is expected to heavily disrupt the industry with folding wingtips, powerful engines, and enhanced passenger experience as well as lower operating costs. The deliverance of the 777X really could be make or break for Boeing.
And there’s more (of course!). 2020 won’t be complete without knowing what Boeing has in store for the New Midsize Airplane or NMA, also termed the 797.
So far, major airlines like Qantas and United Airlines have expressed an interest in the aircraft. But Boeing has not let anyone in on the secret just yet. There is no production start date but there’s a lot of speculation.
If Boeing is able to get its plans out of the gate, then it will make 2020 an incredibly prominent year for the airframer. The 797 would be a rival for Airbus’ A321XLR which is already garnering a lot of interest. Just this week we saw United Airlines deprive Boeing of vital 797 orders when it went ahead and ordered with Boeing’s competition. It needs to look at getting this aircraft announced sharpish to secure customer orders.
Big potential in a small package
Boeing is also hiding a big secret that could gain traction in 2020. The Future Small Airplane, or FSA, could replace the 737 MAX. It’s just well-circulated speculation at the moment,, but with Boeing putting pressure on the FAA, it could be something that we see materialize in the new year.
This week, Boeing suggested that 737 MAX production might need to be put on pause or ceased entirely if the aircraft faced further regulatory checks. The grounding of the MAX has created significant stress on Boeing’s finances among other things but could the production of the FSA put Boeing back on track?
Staving off the competition in 2020
2020 is an excellent opportunity for Boeing to stave off its competition if it takes advantage. Airbus has already clinched a few orders from Boeing’s hand but there’s nothing to say that Boeing can’t bring it back. It’s got a lot of work to do to recover from the 737 MAX grounding in terms of customer and airline trust, but with the correct certification, there can be no doubt at the aircraft’s capabilities. And with the development of other aircraft to see in the new year, there’s plenty of opportunities for Boeing to dominate.
Do you think Boeing is looking at a better 2020? Let us know in the comments below!