FlightGlobal is reporting that Boeing will make upgrades to the 737 by the beginning of 2012 regardless of the company’s decision to either launch a replacement aircraft or make major modifications to the existing 737 family.
Citing an internal source, FlightGlobal claims that Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh told employees at a Q&A event on February 2nd that the 737 would be upgraded, presumably to keep up with market demand that is being driven by Airbus’ decision to re-engine the A320, while it decides what its long-term strategy in the narrow-body market will ultimately entail.
Upgrades mentioned by Albaugh include use of a flight deck that more closely resembles the 787, and also modifications to the plane’s engines.
FlightGlobal suggests that Boeing’s move away from a complete re-engine of the 737 in favor of a replacement plane stems from a concern that such a move would jeopardize the company’s healthy backorder of 2,200 737s as airlines would be reluctant to take deliveries of a plane that would be re-engined only a few years later. It seems that Boeing feels comfortable that it can protect its order log by making enough smaller modifications to the current 737 while it mulls introducing a brand new plane entirely further down the road.