Exclusive: Boeing near decision to launch 737-10 jet - sources
By Tim Hepher
PARIS (Reuters) - Boeing BA.N is nearing a decision to launch a larger version of its 737 workhorse jet within two months to counter strong sales of the Airbus AIR.PA A321neo, after a breakthrough on the design for one of its parts, industry sources said.
The 737 MAX 10 would narrow the gap between the 178-220 seat 737-9, which first flew this month, and the 185-240 seat A321neo, which dominates the top end of a market for narrowbody jets worth $2 trillion over 20 years.
Boeing has been studying how to solve a tricky problem with the design of the plane's landing gear, without adding cost or delaying a 2020 target for first deliveries.
The sources said a solution had been found and that Boeing was talking more deliberately to airlines about launching the 737-10 at the Paris Airshow in June. Boeing is said to anticipate a total market of 1,000 of the planes.
"Boeing is actively engaged in discussions with customers about the 737 MAX 10X," a spokesman said. "No decision has been made on the airplane and any discussion on timing of a possible launch would be speculative."
Boeing shares were up slightly in early trading.
Reuters reported last year that the 737-10 marks a tactical response to the A321neo, while Boeing works on strategic plans for a 220-260-seat twin-aisle, mid-market jet.
But it has produced a puzzle so tricky that Boeing has asked for help from its combat jet experts to design a space-saving gear for the 737-10. Continued...