Exclusive: Boeing near decision to launch 737-10 jet - sources

Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:26pm EDT
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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...

FILE PHOTO: Boeing's new 737 MAX-9 is pictured under construction at their production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017. Picture taken February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Redmond/File Photo