Boeing says its collaboration with NASA on a highly efficient single-aisle airliner could lead to a replacement for the 737. In an earnings call on Wednesday, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun confirmed that the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator meets the “standard needed to launch a commercial airplane” with its major increases in fuel efficiency. “The program that we’ve embarked on here is how do you commercialize it?” Calhoun told the call. “So, there’s real intent there to be able to do it.”
NASA is kicking in $425 million of the $1.2 billion cost of building a prototype of the new airliner with its long “transonic truss-braced” wings. The glider-like wings will cut drag and improve efficiency by up to 30 percent over the 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo. NASA said it wants to see the design become commercially viable, and Calhoun said that’s where the project is headed. “It will definitely have a role to play someday in the narrowbody world,” Calhoun said.