Aerospace & Defense

Boeing Shopping 757 Replacement

Boeing 757
Source: The Boeing Co.
Despite demurrals that a replacement for the 757 was in its future, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) has been showing some customers a concept aircraft dubbed the 737-8ERX, a long-range version of the company’s forthcoming 737-8 MAX. Like its predecessor, the 737-8ERX is designed to fly so-called long-thin routes, with fewer passengers traveling longer distances than the single-aisle 737. The concept is Boeing’s answer to the A321LR, which rival Airbus announced in January.

The first 757 was delivered in 1982, the last in 2005, and the single-aisle, twin-engine plane sold 1,050 planes. More than 1,000 are still in service. Depending on how the seats are configured, the 757-200 model could carry up to 228 passengers and the 757-300 could carry up to 289 passengers. The 757-200 had a specified maximum range of 3,900 nautical miles (nm), but the range on some planes was extended by addition of belly tanks and other modifications. The 757-300’s specified range was shorter, but it too could be extended with belly tanks.

The announced Airbus A321LR claims a range of 4,000 nm, a maximum takeoff weight of 97.0 tons, and a cabin to accommodate a maximum of 206 passengers. Airbus has estimated a market of 469 planes as replacements for the Boeing 757 and another 500 new purchases.

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The 757-200 featured a range of 4,500 nm and a maximum takeoff weight of 99.8 to 115.7 metric tons. The plane typically carries 200 passengers in a mixed-class configuration and 228 in a single class. The stretched version — 757-300 — accommodates 243 to 289 passengers and the maximum takeoff weight increases to 123.6 metric tons.

According to industry analysts at Leeham, Boeing’s concept for a modified 737-8 MAX includes structural elements of the 737-9 MAX that give the 737-8ERX a maximum takeoff weight of about 88.5 metric tons. Leeham puts it this way:

In contrast to Airbus, which beefed up the A321neo to form the A321LR, Boeing is apparently using a concept they developed for the Navy 737 derivative, P8 Poseidon. They grab in their LEGO box of 737 components to form the 737-8ERX with minimal additional development.

Leeham estimates that the new plane has a range of about 4,000 nm, using two additional fuel tanks, and can seat 150 passengers in a three-class configuration. Boeing is discussing an entry into service date of 2020 to 2021, well behind the expected service date of 2019 for the Airbus A321LR.

An additional issue for Boeing is passenger capacity. A United Airlines 757 seats 169 passengers and the A321LR will seat 164, compared with about 136 for the 737-8ERX. In a single-class seating configuration, the 737-8ERX could seat 168 passengers.

Boeing stock traded up about 0.6% Thursday morning, at $152.13 in a 52-week range of $116.32 to $158.83.

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