Boeing doing a rethink on 737

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on July 07, 2011 Published on July 07, 2011

A model of a Boeing 737

A model of an Airbus A320 aircraft

As it prepares for competition with Airbus A320

With narrow body single-aisle aircraft set to dominate Indian aircraft purchases in the next two decades, Boeing is in the midst of finalising on how to re-furbish its single-aisle offering, the Boeing 737 aircraft.

The company is still deciding on whether to give the Boeing 737 a new engine or to do away with the aircraft and develop a new single-aisle aircraft using technology from the 787 Dreamliner.

Interior features

But till that decision is made, the Boeing India President, Mr Dinesh Keskar, said that they will deliver the 737 with the brand new Boeing Sky Interiors to Jet Airways from 2011.

“The Boeing Sky Interior has the same interior features as that of the 787. It will reduce maintenance costs as well as improve the in-flight experience.

“The new interiors would have features such as larger overhead baggage bins and LED lighting,” said Mr Keskar.

The 737 first began production in 1968 while the 737 Next Generation, the last major overhaul of the aircraft, began production in 1996. The new interiors would mark the second major upgrade to the aircraft since 2006.

The US-based manufacturer's concentration on the Boeing 737 gains importance in light of the fact that it forecasts nearly 81 per cent of the aircraft sales in India till 2030 to be narrow-body single-aisle aircraft.

Domestic sector

Boeing's European competitor, Airbus, has managed to gain an advantage in the segment with mega-orders from IndiGo and GoAir for the Airbus A320neo.

Single-aisle aircraft such as the 737 and A320 generally have 150 seats and are used on the domestic sector or the short-haul international flights. Such aircraft are increasing in popularity as domestic air travel grows.

But despite the orders for the A320neo, Mr Keskar was confident of generating sales in India with the 737.

“We are well entrenched in the Indian market with top airlines like Jet Airways, Air India and SpiceJet all using Boeing 737s for their single-aisle aircraft. What is important to me is how many order deliveries take place. We have an order backlog of 69 for the Boeing 737 and they should be delivered in the next 4-5 years,” he said.

regional jet orders

Commenting on the regional jet orders of SpiceJet, Mr Keskar said, “This will in fact help grow the new routes and when these new routes mature, there will be no other option for airlines like SpiceJet to move to aircraft like the 737.”

production capacity

Boeing will also be ramping up production capacity for the 737 to 42 planes a month by 2014. The company has a total order backlog of 111 aircraft totalling about $14 billion-15 billion.

The aircraft are scheduled for delivery in the next four to five years. Apart from the 69 orders for 737, there are also 37 orders for the 787 Dreamliner and five more for the 777.

Boeing's projections for the Indian market peg aircraft sales to be at 1,320 aircraft till 2030 out of which 1,069 are expected to be single-aisle aircraft and 211 are expected to be twin-aisle aircraft.

Single-aisle aircraft sales are expected to generate $97.5 billion revenue while twin-aisle aircraft sales would only manage $51 billion.

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Published on July 07, 2011
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