After Airbus launched the A320NEO, Airbus chief operating officer for customers, John Leahy, predicted Boeing would reengine the 737 long before the company launched the 737MAX.
But Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes rejecs the notion the New Small Airplane (NSA) was merely a bluff that Leahy called.
The decision to go with the MAX was not driven by Toulouse, he says, insisting that "I wanted to do the New Small Airplane, of course I’m an engineer and you want to do things like that."
That is an interesting contrast to Airbus, where Tom Enders initially said he's prefer not to do the NEO and just keep selling standard A320s. In the end, of course, Enders is happy with the more than 1,100 firm orders.
At Boeing, in the end it came down to the fact that it did not have a good handle on the costs of developing something brand new and the fact it didn't know how to build 60 composite aircraft of the type. In the end, Albaugh says, "the last thing I wanted to do is commit to that airplane, say delivery in 2019, and then slip," he notes.
By taking this approach “we have derisked the decade from a development standpoint,” Albaugh says, and freed up money to do the 777X and a 787-10. Engine makers will have to deliver more thrust for the type, but Albaugh does not see that as a major development effort.