Boeing is gauging interest again in a new commercial aircraft, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that could help it make up lost ground to rival Airbus it navigates its way through the 737 MAX crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal’s Benjamin Katz reported.
The plane maker has held conversations with a few customers, including airplane leasing companies, and suppliers about potential interest in a single-aisle aircraft with improved engines that could carry between 200 and 250 passengers, according to these people. That would fall between Boeing’s largest 737 MAX and its twin-aisle 787 Dreamliner.
Talks about a potential new aircraft are at a very early stage, these people said, and may not lead to an eventual formal development program. A new plane can take years to move from an idea to a fully supported development program, and then even longer to make it to production. Boeing hasn’t launched a new commercial aircraft since the Dreamliner in 2004.
Boeing has for years considered the possibility of developing a new single-aisle aircraft. In 2011, the plane maker opted instead to produce the MAX, a new iteration of its decades-old 737.
Demand for travel has collapsed, and industry experts don’t expect a pickup soon. Many expect shorter-haul travel to pick up before long-haul.
That makes the narrow-body concept Boeing is now considering a potentially better bet than the twin-aisle NMA. With a large, single-aisle jet, airlines have been able to operate on routes with less demand and connect cities that aren’t viable using bigger aircraft.
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