Delta Air Lines has once again presented their views on the Boeing 797, this time stating they are interested in ordering up to 200 aircraft.

First reported by Bloomberg, Delta Air Line’s Chief Executive Officer, Ed Bastian, states the airline has a significant number of Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft that need replacing soon and the proposed 797 would be a perfect aircraft.

Should Boeing announce the launch of the New Mid-market Airplane (NMA), also known as the 797 by analysts, Delta would reward the company with an order possibly in the hundreds.

Delta’s fleet requirements would see a need of almost 200 aircraft over the next decade, all fitting the NMA/797 category.

Delta Interested in Ordering Up To 200 Boeing 797 Aircraft
Boeing NMA Rendering – The Air Current

Boeing, however, has been on the fence about launching the aircraft despite many large airlines expressing interest. Whether it is launched or not will depend on the overall impact of the 737 MAX crisis, market demand and how smoothly the 777X program tracks.

During an interview with Bloomberg, Bastian said the following:

“I do anticipate they will do it. I hope they will do it. We have a significant need between the retirements of the 757 and 767 fleets. That’s almost 200 aircraft over the next decade.”

Boeing faces a tough set of requirements from different airlines; with some interested in a small and efficient widebody aircraft, whilst some are in favour of a narrowbody aircraft like the 757.

Range wise airlines are targeting a figure of around 4,700-5,000 nautical miles, which would result in possibly hundreds of sales across the rumoured two variants.

Engineers assigned to the NMA/797 program were reshuffled to the 737 MAX program to speed up the recovery process, which has put the ultimate decision on hold. Boeing still reaffirms they’re working on a business case for the aircraft.

On the other hand, Airbus has been utilising Boeing’s busy schedule to secure orders for their A321XLR; that was launched during the 2019 Paris Airshow.

Benefiting from commonality with the successful A320 program the A321XLR is an easy addition, offering similar range and competitive operating characteristics.

Airbus secured landmark orders for the jet in recent times, including an order from American Airlines for 50, Qantas for 36 and AirAsia for 30.

Delta knows Airbus is marketing their A321neo and A330neo combination, however wants to hear what Boeing has to offer before any decisions are made.

Analysts have considered Boeing would be better off shelving the NMA/797 and instead focus on an all-new narrowbody 737 replacement, to overcome the scars of the crisis and end up ahead of Airbus.

Although this is a compelling option, it’s an expensive one. Chief Executive Officer of Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg told media last week that engineers are “making good progress on risk reduction and the business case”.

The current focus is innovation and the NMA/797 project is supposedly driving this by developing the production system of the future – something highly valuable across all aircraft programs.

What are your thoughts on the Boeing NMA/797 project?

Cover image by BriYYZ on Flickr