Due to the shifting market needs and heightened focus on the automated flight control functions, Boeing will revise the design of its long-awaited New Mid-market Airplane (NMA), also known as 797.
The following statement was made on January 22nd by Boeing’s new CEO, Dave Calhoun: “We are going to take, probably, a different approach. We are going to start with a clean sheet of paper, again.” Calhoun cited market shifts as one of the reasons for the revised approach to the NMA project: “Things have changed a bit. The competitive playing field is a little different. We have to plan for China.”
According to Boeing’s CEO, the NMA’s new design must center around the flight control system and how pilots interact with that system, a hot issue since the two 737 MAX crashes: “We might have to start with the flight control philosophy before we actually get to the airplane”, Calhoun said. Design decisions related to “pilots flying airplanes” are “very important for the regulator and for us to get our head around.”
Proposed several years ago, the NMA project was said to offer around 270 seats, have 4,000-5,000 nm (7,400-9,300 km) range and enter service in the mid-2020s, just in time for 757 and 767 retirements. However, since then the market has changed and – besides the 737 MAX grounding, a key-focus for Boeing now – Airbus launched in June 2019, at Paris Air Show, the A321XLR, which quickly became a favourite of many airlines, with over 450 orders and commitments in 6 months.