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The forward nose section of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, known as section 41, is manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing Developing Plan for New NMA Planes Dubbed 757-Plus and 767-X

Boeing is developing plans for its New Midsize Airplane (NMA) program, which aims to replace Boeing’s 757 and 767 planes and compete with the relatively-new Airbus A321XLR, Reuters reports.

Boeing shelved the program in January to finish working on fixes to recertify its troubled 737MAX jet. A Boeing spokesperson said, however, that the company will continue researching the NMA market and will continue to invest in, research and develop a new aircraft as conditions allow.

In October, Flightglobal reported that Boeing was in talks with General Electric about developing a re-engined “767-X.” Sources close to the matter say that Boeing was also considering redesigning the aircraft’s wings as well. While Boeing has declined to discuss individual projects and therefore cannot confirm the existence of the “767-X” project, Boeing may be prioritizing the 767-X project over other potentially similar developments.

Boeing delivered its last passenger 767 in 2014. Since then, cargo carriers have become increasingly reliant on the jet, and there’s a possibility that Boeing’s new “767-X” could be focused on cargo operations. The planemaker will need to modify any potential new 767 variants to meet 2028 emissions standards.

If Boeing does develop the “767-X” as a dedicated cargo plane, it could also develop a new passenger NMA plane, currently called the “757-Plus.” This plane would compete more directly with the A321XLR, a variant of Airbus’ wildly-successful A320 family that is fitted with extra fuel tanks to fly especially long-and-skinny routes. It could see a more efficient, cheaper, and potentially longer-range version of the current 757, which hasn’t been produced since 2004.

There has been speculation that Boeing was working on a new NMA jet, often commonly referred to as the Boeing 797, for quite some time. Some argue that such a project could have begun development in the early 2010s had American Airlines not placed an order for re-engined 737s similar to the Airbus A320neo family, effectively forcing Boeing to develop the 737MAX too quickly to fulfill the order.

As Boeing manages the Coronavirus crisis and the MAX’s upcoming re-certification attempt, both of these projects will be delayed as Boeing tries to cut costs and focus on pressing issues. Final tests and development and deliveries of Boeing’s 777X aircraft, an update on its preexisting 777 family, could also be delayed due to a worldwide slump in demand for widebody aircraft.

Airbus, like Boeing, has also been forced to put a number of projects on hold amid the Coronavirus pandemic. It has already scrapped a plan for a hybrid-electric flight demonstrator is was working on with Rolls Royce, and its development of other green aircraft concepts is at a slower pace than normal. The European manufacturer has also tabled the development of potential freighter versions of the A330neo or A350.

John McDermott
John McDermott
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