Boeing is reportedly ‘gauging interest’ from customers about the possibility of building a new single-aisle jet that would be able to carry up to 250 people.
People familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal, Boeing has held conversations with airplane leasing companies, and suppliers about potential interest in the aircraft that would have improved engines and the capacity to carry between 200 and 250 passengers.
Boeing wanted to fill a gap between the MAX and the Dreamliner with a midmarket airplane.
According to the sources, the talks about the new aircraft are at a very early stage and may not lead to a formal development program.
A DailyMail.com request for comment to Boeing was not immediately returned on Thursday morning.
Boeing (file image of grounded 737 MAX) is reportedly ‘gauging interest’ from customers about the possibility of building a new single-aisle jet that would be able to carry up to 250 people
According to sources, the talks about the new aircraft are at a very early stage and may not lead to a formal development program. Since the start of the pandemic, Boeing’s shares have continued to drop
The plane maker hasn’t launched a new commercial aircraft since the Dreamliner in 2004. The first of the Dreamliner aircraft were delivered in 2011.
Boeing has previously considered creating a new single-aisle aircraft, but opted to produce the 737 MAX instead.
The 737 MAX is a new iteration of the company’s 737.
Talks of the possibility of a new plane comes the same week American Airlines announced that it has plans to put the 737 MAX back in its schedule by the end of the year, assuming that federal regulators soon approve changes Boeing made after two crashes of MAX jets killed 346 people.
A spokeswoman for American said Monday that the airline plans to operate a single daily MAX flight from December 29 through January 4 between Miami and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
American said it will be reviewing its plans beyond that and will begin taking bookings for the flights on Friday.
Boeing fails to sell any airline planes in September
Boeing failed to sell any airline planes last month and suffered more cancellations of a grounded jetliner, further evidence of the company’s battle to overcome a drop in air travel during the pandemic and crashes involving the 737 Max.
The company said Tuesday that three Max orders were canceled in September and it dropped orders for 48 more Max jets because of uncertainty about whether customers will be able to close the deals.
Boeing has booked 67 orders so far this year, but it has suffered 448 cancellations for the Max and dropped another 602 orders from its backlog because the company isn’t sure it can complete the sales with so many airlines in financial trouble.
The 737 Max was Boeing’s best-selling plane until it was grounded in March 2019. In August, the company booked its first Max order of 2020, from a Polish airline.
Boeing said it delivered 11 new commercial planes last month, mostly twin-aisle 787s, compared with 25 last September. The company delivered 98 planes this year, through September 30, compared with 301 in the same period of 2019. The decline in deliveries is crucial because Boeing gets the bulk of cash from sales when jets are delivered.
Chicago-based Boeing has laid off thousands of workers this year. While it chose not to seek government pandemic-relief funds, the company has raised billions in private credit to get through the downturn.
‘We remain in contact with the (Federal Aviation Administration) and Boeing on the certification process, and we´ll continue to update our plans based on when the aircraft is certified,’ spokeswoman Sarah Jantz said in a statement.
Customers can see on American’s website the type of plane for any flight if they know where to click. The airline said customers won’t be automatically rebooked on a Max if their original flight plan changes.
The first 737 Max crash occurred in October 2018 in Indonesia, and another crashed less than five months later in Ethiopia.
In both cases, an automated anti-stall system new to the plane pushed the nose down, and pilots were unable to regain control.
All Max jets were grounded worldwide in March 2019.
Boeing has redesigned software and computers on the plane to make the anti-stall system less powerful.
Boeing shares climbed on Friday following a report that the European air safety regulator is ready to allow the 737 MAX jet to return to the skies after its worldwide grounding.
Shares in the US aviation giant were up 2.5 per cent after Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), told Bloomberg the plane could start flying before the end of the year.
‘Our analysis is showing that this is safe, and the level of safety reached is high enough for us,’ Ky said in an interview. ‘What we discussed with Boeing is the fact that with the third sensor, we could reach even higher safety levels.’
The EASA completed test flights on the plane in September and is expected to issue a draft airworthiness directive in November, after which there will be four weeks of public comment, Bloomberg reported.
The regulator also has asked Boeing to install a ‘synthetic sensor’ that would aid pilots should they face a malfunction in the angle of attack sensors, which occurred in both crashes. Existing 737 MAX models will be retrofitted with the new technology.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is also reviewing the changes made by Boeing and conducting test flights.
Earlier this month, aviation safety regulators released pilot training protocols for the Boeing 737 MAX, moving the grounded jet one step closer to returning to the skies.
The FAA published the standards incorporating recommendations from a board of civil aviation regulators from the US, Canada, Brazil and the European Union. The agency is seeking public comment through November 2.
Although Tuesday’s action by FAA is ‘an important step,’ the agency reiterated that ‘several key milestones’ remain before the plane can be returned to service.
These include a review of Boeing’s final design documentation to confirm compliance with FAA regulations.
The agency hasn’t given a timetable for making a decision on whether to let the plane fly again.
In addition to the troubles surrounding the 737 MAX, the airline industry in general has been shaken to its core by the pandemic, pushing some foreign carriers into bankruptcy and driving a few small US ones out of business.
In March, Congress and the White House gave airlines $25billion plus access to another $25billion in low-interest loans.
Critics say giving them $25billion more now is just another bailout. The airlines, they say, should have saved more money when they were making record profits instead of spending heavily to buy back their own stock, a strategy that helped shareholders.
Army halts deliveries of Apache attack helicopters from Boeing over sacked factory employee’s ‘improper records for critical safety items’
Last week, the US Army ceased deliveries of Apache attack helicopters from Boeing after an Arizona factory employee kept ‘improper’ records about aircraft parts, report said.
The employee responsible for the record-keeping ‘no longer works at Boeing’, a source told Defense One.
As a result, Army officials revealed to Defense One that they’ve recently stopped accepting Apache helicopters, or AH-64 aircraft, until further notice.
‘At this time the Army is still conducting a comprehensive review of a number of Boeing processes, production, and manufacturing plans for critical safety items applicable to all AH-64E aircraft production,’ spokesperson Lt. Col. Brandon Kelley said.
Army officials have stopped Apache helicopter (pictured) deliveries from Boeing after a factory worker in Mesa, Arizona, kept ‘improper’ records
Kelley added that at no time were soldiers lives put at risk.
The ‘improper record keeping’ reportedly involved parts installed in the aircraft during production at Boeing’s AH-64 Apache factory in Mesa, Arizona.
The plant in Mesa where the employee had kept improper records overhauls old Apaches with modern equipment and builds new new ones. The company will continue to build new aircraft only while the situation is investigated.
When Beoing officials learned of its discrepancies, they alerted the Army immediately.
Steve Parker, vice president and general manager of Boeing Vertical Lift, added in a statement to Defense One that the factory was under review.
‘Boeing and the government are jointly reviewing our Mesa quality management processes and procedures,’ Parker told the publication.
‘Flight operations and deliveries will resume when Boeing and the Army are satisfied this issue has been resolved and appropriate corrective action plans have been implemented.’
Boeing is ‘considering closing its commercial airplane headquarters near Seattle’ to cut costs
By Keith Griffith for DailyMail.com and Associated Press
It was also reported this month that Boeing may be considering selling its commercial-airliner headquarters in an effort to cut costs and stockpile cash.
The company is weighing a sale of its Longacres industrial park campus in Renton, Washington, which is used by managers in the jetliner division, as well as a building once used to train airline pilots, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
‘We’re still working through an assessment,’ a Boeing spokesperson told DailyMail.com.
It was also reported this month that Boeing (file image, Boeing 737 MAX) may be considering selling its commercial-airliner headquarters in an effort to cut costs and stockpile cash
‘Boeing continually assesses the company’s entire portfolio of real estate property assets and adjusts the company’s footprint as the business environment evolves. Boeing Commercial Airplanes leadership will remain in the Seattle region.’
Boeing purchased the 212-acre Longacres site, formerly a horse racing track, in the 1990s and converted it into an office park.
If a sale were completed, managers of the commercial airliner division would be moved into vacant offices in a nearby plant, according to Bloomberg.
‘The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected air travel and the commercial aviation industry, including Boeing,’ Boeing said in a statement.
‘As we adapt to new market realities and position for the future, we are taking action across the company in five key categories: infrastructure; overhead and organizational structure; portfolio and investment mix; supply chain health; and operational excellence,’ the company said.
‘That includes evaluating ways to more effectively utilize our office space and reduce costs. Additionally, we can offer more flexibility for our teammates with a combination of virtual and on-site work space, while also ensuring that leaders and teams are closer to where the work is being done to support our customers.’