July 14, 2024

Boeing to Weigh Options for Future of Popular 737

PARIS — Boeing expects to make a decision by the end of this year on whether to revamp its popular 737 jet with more fuel-efficient engines or to develop an entirely new single-aisle jet for delivery around the beginning of the next decade, the head of the company’s civil aircraft division said Sunday.

“Probably by the end of the year, we’ll have a decision that we can go forward with publicly,” James F. Albaugh, the chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said at a briefing on the eve of the Paris Air Show, which was to open Monday.

Pressure on Boeing to define its future strategy for the fast-selling 737 has been building since late last year, when its European rival, Airbus, announced that it would bring an updated version of its competing A320 single-aisle jet, with new engines and a more aerodynamic wing, to market by mid-2016. Airbus has since lined up more than 200 firm orders for the A320neo — the letters stand for New Engine Option — with commitments from customers to buy as many as 200 more. Industry executives, including Mr. Albaugh, expect Airbus to have orders for well over 500 of the planes by the end of this week’s air show.

“That’s going to be no surprise to us,” Mr. Albaugh said.

He defended Boeing’s cautious stance, however, saying that the company preferred to take its guidance from airline customers rather than what the competition had chosen to do.

“What we have to make a judgment on is what is the best thing for us to do to support our customers,” Mr. Albaugh said. “Is it to improve an already good airplane — which is lower risk — or to do a higher risk, new airplane which will provide a new airplane not just for this decade but an airplane for the next 50 years? That’s what we’re trying to balance.”

Airbus has been promising fuel savings with the A320neo of as much as 15 percent over current engines. The new plane is expected also to run more quietly and with lower operating costs, and be able to fly farther or carry heavier payloads while emitting less greenhouse gas.

Airbus expects to spend around $1.5 billion on the enhancements, and Boeing has placed the costs of fitting a new engine to the 737 within that range. Developing an all-new replacement for the 737 would probably cost Boeing as much as $12 billion, analysts estimate.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fcee10b03bcf374022db0697d854d5c9

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