Airbus COO Offers Insight into 737 Decision, Has Questions Regarding 747-8

Airbus’s Chief Operating Officer, John Leahy, doesn’t think that Boeing will ultimately develop a replacement to the 737, electing instead to re-engine the aircraft in 2020 according to Bloomberg.

Airbus COO John Leahy

Boeing has strongly implied over the past month that it will design a new plane to replace its most popular passenger plane within the next decade. But according to Leahy, Boeing’s suggestions of a new plane will ultimately subside and the company will elect to modify the 737.

Leahy predicted today that Boeing will wait a year or more to decide, and continue to talk about building an all-new single-aisle aircraft before ultimately offering new engines on the 737. That would mirror the decision-making process over the modernization of its 737 in the early 1990s.

“I would suggest that’s exactly what’s going to happen again,” Leahy said. “After about one year, maybe two of talking about an all-new airplane,” Boeing will simply offer new engines on its 737 starting in about 2020, he said.

Leahy also said today that the Boeing’s new 747-8 Intercontinental should have to conduct passenger evacuation tests even though Boeing has asked for the test to be waived since previous versions of the 747 have already proven their evacuation readiness according to a separate Bloomberg article.

“That’s wrong,” (Leahy) said. “I intend to fly in that airplane one of these days and I’d like to know you can get out of it.”

The 747-8 carries 12 percent more passengers in a three-class configuration than its predecessor leading some to argue that Boeing should have to demonstrate that with the additional passengers, the plane can still pass the evacuation test.

Boeing unveiled the 747-8 in a ceremony on Sunday and expects the first flight to occur sometime in May.

The world’s second largest commercial plane maker is also expected to make an announcement regarding the 737’s future sometime this year with an announcement coming as early as June’s Paris Air Show.

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