Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Boeing Eyes Twin-Aisle 797

Boeing Eyes Twin-Aisle Design For New Jet

3-7-17 9:56 PM EST

By Doug Cameron

SAN DIEGO -- Boeing Co. favors a twin-aisle design for a proposed all-new commercial jet that likely wouldn't enter service before 2024, a senior U.S. airline executive said Tuesday.

The plane maker hasn't previously disclosed design details of what industry executives are already calling the 797, with a seating capacity of more than 200 that would sit between its workhorse 737 jets and the 787 Dreamliner.

New jetliners can cost more than $10 billion to develop, and the decision whether to proceed with the plane will be a test for Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg as previous models launched during his tenure have been derivatives of existing aircraft.

Boeing has been marketing its concept of a new jet to airlines and leasing companies, and many had expected it to be a single-aisle plane that allows carriers to move passengers on and off more quickly than a twin-aisle.

"We actually think it has a lot of merit," said Andrew Levy, chief financial officer of United Continental Holdings Inc, a big buyer of planes from Boeing and rival Airbus SE.

Mr. Levy, speaking at an industry conference, admitted he was surprised at first by the favoring of a twin-aisle design, while other industry executives said Boeing still had a lot of work to do in completing the size, range and cost of any new jet.

Boeing said it was continuing to study what the plane would look like, but said it would enter service in 2024 or 2025 if it opted to press ahead.

Airbus chief salesman John Leahy said at the same event that it had no immediate plans for a new aircraft type, but the European company and Boeing have played a game of cat and mouse in recent years with planes aimed at preventing the other from gaining a larger share in a $120 billion a year jet market where they have roughly even market shares.

Steven Udvar-Házy, chief executive of Air Lease Corp. and an influential buyer of new planes, said Boeing would call it the 797, adding that it reflected potential demand between its launch and a likely production run stretching through 2060 when infrastructure constraints affecting airports and airspace would start to bite.

"There will be a growing need for an airplane in this category," Mr. Hazy said.

U.S. carriers like United and Delta Air Lines Inc. have been looking for a replacement for the now-discontinued single-aisle Boeing 757 jets still used on transcontinental routs and some flights across the Atlantic. However, industry executives said Boeing had to be mindful of demand elsewhere, notably from Asian airlines.

"It has to have global applications," said Aengus Kelly, chief executive of AerCap Holdings NV, a big aircraft lessor.

Mr. Kelly said Boeing was already in talks with engine makers who'd have to fund development, and Mr. Hazy said he expected two rival offerings to emerge, from General Electric Co. and a combination of Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC and the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies Corp.

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