Emirates Airline president Tim Clark is cautious on the prospects of Boeing’s proposed new middle-of-the-market airplane (NMA).

“Maybe there is a market,” Clark told journalists on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Sydney June 5. But he noted that “differences of opinion between the carriers in Asia-Pacific and US operators” is making it very hard for Boeing to define a configuration that is widely accepted. He pointed at requirements such as range, capacity and cargo capacity that will influence the aircraft’s design.

Clark hinted that Emirates was not likely to be interested. The aircraft could, however, be a candidate for sister airline FlyDubai, now an all-Boeing 737 operator focused on routes of up to five hours around Dubai.

The Boeing 777X, for which Emirates is a launch customer, is “looking surprisingly good”, Clark said. Emirates has been kept in the loop on all the development milestones for both the airframe and the [General Electric GE9X] engine. The powerplant situation “is better than with other engines,” he said.

Emirates has 150 777X on firm order and plans to receive the first in June 2020.

The airline also bought 40 787-10s at the 2017 Dubai Air Show. Clark said no engine decision had been made and the decision will be influenced by how Rolls-Royce deals with the current issues affecting 787 operations of many operators.

In general, Clark believes that the latest generation of engines are late to market. Given technology availability, “they should have done this 10 years ago”, he said, referring to all manufacturers. “Commercial imperatives for a new engine have been there for some time. But they felt they did not need to do it.”

Jens Flottau, jens.flottau@aviationweek.com