PATCO LCH

Boeing missed it shelfing the717

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Reading an article this AM about all the tricks and hoops Boeing pulled off bringing the 1965 BOEING 737 up to date through the years while trying to keep the cockpit commonality so as to keep training cost low. Seems many of the new Max procedures are the same steps pilots followed 52 years ago. Many systems on the Max date back to the original 737.Placing bigger engines on the 737 has caused engineering challenges due to there close proximity to the ground. Problems not present with fuselage mounted engines. The answer here would be to raise the gear struts but one of the draws of the 737 was low baggage doors that can be easley accessed without expensive conveyers or elevator equipment. The engines can also be maintained from ground level. So it seems decades of putting new wine into old wine skins is getting increasingly difficult.

So I got to thinking. (dangerous I know). If Boeing had kept the 717 in production with continued improvement and expansion would they and their customers  be better off today? The 717 has a very modern set of avionics. Its low to the ground but the rear mounted engines don't act as vacuum cleaners although rear fuselage engines do inhale more water, ice  and hail blown over the top of the wing. It has an exemplary safety record. Boeing could stretch the 717 to MD90 proportions.

The question of cockpit commonality. I know pilots are a  flexible lot.  Assuming the TFDi model is quite accurate the 717 strikes me as a very sweet, wonderfully automated and easy aircraft to master. So its's all about training cost. Any airline such as Southwest  that's wants a one plane fleet can just order more NG's. 

In my unlearned opinion I think the DC9 was a better design then the 737 to begin with. I know of no structural failures of any DC9/MD80 due to metal fatigue in spite of the daily multicycle mission. I know of three off hand on the737 not to mention the recent engine disintegration. Maybe I'm prejudiced being a life long fan of the Douglas liners especially the DC9, having taken a few fam trips in my FAA days and as a passenger enjoying that smooth quite ride in the cabin.  I just think Boeings bottom line might have been enhanced if they had not shelfed the 717 but had let her fill a market gap while developing from the ground up a new short to medium hauler.

 I know there are a lot smarter dudes then myself here and I come to learn so what do you think? Let's second guess those CEO's, PHD's and MBA's at Boeing.

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I like the 717, and you're right it is a very good aircraft, but I suspect that there must be a reason why Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer and others have all opted to use wing mounted engines on their new designs. 

I wonder if there are engineering obstacles to mounting fuel efficient engines with large diameter fans on the rear of the fuselage.  There also may be other advantages to using wing mounted engines.  Maybe an aeronautical engineer could chime in here.

Dave

 

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Posted (edited)

If you think Boeing cut corners with every new generation of 737. Then MDD is equally guilty with the DC9 / MD80 /Md90 evolution....the B717 is as jurassic if you scatch beneath the surface as the 737 is, in some areas.

And you also point out that the 717 has a very clever , MD-11'esque avionics system, which looks different from the Boeings. But there are some smoke and mirrors here. The heart of the 717 avionics is not from an MD11, it has it roots in the triple seven.

Quote

Honeywell’s Versatile Integrated Avionics (VIA) platform is an LRU-based system derivative of the Airplane Information Management System developed for the Boeing 777. Certified on the Boeing 737NG for flight display functions, VIA is additionally certified on Boeing 717 and MD10 aircraft for flight management, flight displays and fault warning. With a common hardware/software architecture, VIA is configurable to meet the needs of a variety of avionics applications

 McDonnell Douglas were low on funds during the development of the MD95, do not forget that. Boeing invested heavily in modernizing the MD95 into the B717.

Edited by SAS443

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I agree to. Airtran, and TWA , Bankok Air held the golden fleece when it came to that plane. I remember reading the story about Delta approaching Boeing about restarting the production line,and Boeing said no.Nice to see Delta still operating the plane.

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2 hours ago, SAS443 said:

If you think Boeing cut corners with every new generation of 737. Then MDD is equally guilty with the DC9 / MD80 /Md90 evolution....the B717 is as jurassic if you scatch beneath the surface as the 737 is, in some areas.

And you also point out that the 717 has a very clever , MD-11'esque avionics system, which looks different from the Boeings. But there are some smoke and mirrors here. The heart of the 717 avionics is not from an MD11, it has it roots in the triple seven.

 McDonnell Douglas were low on funds during the development of the MD95, do not forget that. Boeing invested heavily in modernizing the MD95 into the B717.

Sure, and that's to Boeing's credit bringing the 717 up to a great modern airliner. My question is why not maximize the investment and continue to profit? Not comparing MD to Boeing as companies, just the decision to stop producing a great plane. 

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45 minutes ago, PATCO LCH said:

Sure, and that's to Boeing's credit bringing the 717 up to a great modern airliner. My question is why not maximize the investment and continue to profit? Not comparing MD to Boeing as companies, just the decision to stop producing a great plane. 

Hard to say.  Perhaps Boeing was not interested in that market segment, which was a little under the modern 737's generally speaking.

There might have been a little bit of, "...because it's not (really) ours..." going on there too.  I know Boeing put a big stamp of their own on the 717, but at its heart it was still MD's design (or more accurately, Douglas).

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24 minutes ago, Mace said:

Hard to say.  Perhaps Boeing was not interested in that market segment, which was a little under the modern 737's generally speaking.

There might have been a little bit of, "...because it's not (really) ours..." going on there too.  I know Boeing put a big stamp of their own on the 717, but at its heart it was still MD's design (or more accurately, Douglas).

I think you're probably right. If true that's just pride and prejudice getting in the way of good business sense.

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Also do not forget that the tragic events on 9/11 had great impact on the airline industry.
Air travel took a heavy toll and the demand for a "heavy" regional jet as the B717 was not that great. It was also cannibalizing the 737-600 segment so I guess for Boeing it was rather easy decision to axe the step child, so to speak.
And as fate would have it, Boeing later on also dropped the 737-600....

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I wouldn't say that Boeing "dropped" the 737-600.  The airlines just weren't that interested in it.  It's a lot like the Airbus A318 which was never very popular either.

Dave

  

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Just a guess, but perhaps the RR and GE 737-type engines were much more fuel fuel-efficient (and less polluting) than the 717, and other rear-mounted engines?   

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