We're done changing. Suppliers will remain somewhat skeptical, and I'm sure they have mitigation plans in place. Having lived through three or four years of demand variability, I don't blame them. What I would say to them is that over the next 20-25 years the 787 will be one of the biggest businesses—if not the biggest new business—in aerospace. There's potential for 2,000-3,000 airplanes, if not more. And when you push the numbers around, that's a $400 billion business. There has been a lot of pain and suffering in the birthing of this airplane. Boeing and our partners paid a price. But the question becomes 'Is it worth the candle?' It is.
A year ago you were still deciding whether to reengine the 737 or develop an all-new successor. It seems like Airbus, with the sales success of the A320NEO, really backed Boeing into a corner and forced you to reengine and launch the 737 MAX.
We were looking aggressively at an all-new airplane, but the whole time had a parallel effort going on with the MAX. The question was whether our customers would wait for more capability. We also had some technical questions. We knew what the airplane looked like. We were convinced we had the technology to do it. But we didn't have the production system clearly defined, and I saw some risk in that. In our minds we were shooting for 2019, and it became clear that was going to be pushed out a little beyond 2020. And listen, the NEO's success in the marketplace did point out unmistakably that customers would embrace a lower amount of capability quickly. So that was a factor. We added all that up and decided to move with the MAX.
The NEO currently has three times as many orders as the MAX.
There's not any number that I'm looking at that says there is going to be a permanent shift in market share. Also, there are some customer discussions you may not be aware of. I'm pretty confident the [narrowbody] market share will stay about the same.
Some relatively shaky airlines have ordered a lot of airplanes from Boeing and Airbus. Are you confident Boeing has overbooked enough to protect itself from cancellations?
We've overbooked because experience tells us there will be some deferrals and cancellations. We are seeing normal amounts of that today. We don't feel overly reliant on un-creditworthy airlines—we think [Airbus] may have a greater exposure there.
So you're not worried about an order bubble?
Not overly so. If it was clear a bubble happened, we would have time to adjust production rates [by canceling planned increases]. If the world changes, we will change. But remember, roughly two-thirds of demand is for replacements. And part of the shorter cycle you're talking about is highly capable airplanes replacing less capable ones. In an era of high oil prices, the payback is very quick.
The economic lives of used jets are expiring much sooner than expected due of oil prices and technological advances in new aircraft. Given that shift, might Boeing bring an all-new successor to the MAX to market sooner than conventional wisdom would suggest?