Boeing testing waters for A321XLR competitor once again?

With the Airbus A321XLR capturing market share in a market where Boeing has no answer, the US manufacturer is eyeing yet another design to compete with Airbus’ aircraft.

Boeing has been testing the waters for a new aircraft, which would directly compete with the Airbus A321XLR. According to a report by Aviation Week, the manufacturer has contacted its supplier network for a new aircraft study, so far dubbed the -5X.

According to the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Calhoun, the competitor to the A321XLR is “in the right space with respect to where next development efforts lean, but I don’t want to call it out just yet,” he stated during Boeing’s Q4 2020 financial result analyst call.

“We are really progressing well on our engineering and manufacturing forward technology development so that we’re ready when that moment comes to offer a really differentiated product,” Calhoun said, adding that it is not rocket science for everyone to add up and guess where the things will end up.

Boeing once showed interest in the New Midmarket Airplane (NMA) project designed to compete with relatively new Airbus A321XLR aircraft. The initial plan for the NMA project was to replace the Boeing 757 and the Boeing 767. However, in January 2020, the aircraft manufacturer shelved the NMA in order to finish work on fixes which later led to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft wide ungrounding.

“This isn’t the moment,” Calhoun said. “We’re going to take a little time, and we don’t feel significantly disadvantaged with our portfolio versus their [Airbus – ed. note] portfolio.”

Additionally, Boeing calculated a net loss of 8.42 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020, saying that the loss was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and setbacks of the 737 MAX aircraft crisis.

The Airbus A321XLR, which Airbus launched during the Paris Air Show in June 2019, offers to carry between 180 and 220 passengers in a two-class configuration on routes as long as 8,700 kilometers. With much lower costs than a wide-body aircraft, the A321XLR slotted into a market where Boeing or any other manufacturer has no answer. So far, the Airbus jet managed to amass over 450 orders since its launch.


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