DUBAI (Reuters) - Boeing is deepening its study of a proposed new mid-market aircraft as it prepares to decide whether to bring the project to market, a senior executive said on Saturday.
Kevin McAllister, Chief Executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said a team at the U.S. planemaker would be exploring the business plan in detail, including how the aircraft would be produced, over the next few months.
Referring to the cost of building the possible new jet, which is expected to carry some 220-270 passengers, he said, “We know the box we have got to get into and we are working towards it.” There is no timeframe for making a decision, he added.
“We like how it is shaping up. We are just down to a spot where we want to put some structure around the right business plan and that includes the right production system,” he added.
Boeing has had a good year for wide-body aircraft orders and “the year is not over,” McAllister said at a briefing on the eve of the Dubai Airshow, adding Boeing was seeing good interest for long-range models including its newest 787-10.
The current version of 777 is sold out in 2018 and Boeing is making “good progress” for 2019 as it seeks to fill delivery slots until the new 777X model comes out from 2020, he said.
Boeing Defense & Space CEO Leanne Caret said Boeing sees strong demand for rotorcraft and P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and has overcome technical difficulties on its U.S. Air Force 767-based KC-46A tanker programme, following a series of writedowns.
“The key for us is to get through (safety) certification; we are well on track for that,” Caret said, adding the first plane slated for delivery will stage its maiden flight next month.
McAllister confirmed Boeing is looking at reviving the passenger version of the 767, which is currently offered as a freighter or tanker, but stressed this was “only a study”.
United Airlines is interested in replacing some older jets with new 767s in a reversal of fortune for the 35-year-old jet, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.
Boeing Global Services CEO Stan Deal said the newly created unit plans was focussing on boosting growth after going live in July.
“We certainly plan to expand our order base here at the air show,” he told reporters.
Reporting by Tim Hepher; editing by Alexander Smith