Boeing is making progress in deciding whether or not to pursue a middle-of-the-market commercial aircraft and its North Charleston site may be just the place for it.
According to Boeing’s Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth, “if you are going to address that market, you need a new airplane” to close the gap between narrow-body jets and long-haul aircraft.
In addition to closing the gap between body styles, the proposed aircraft, which is midway between the single-aisle 737 and the twin-aisle 787 Dreamliner, would help Boeing compete against Airbus’ A321neo, which was available to consumers beginning April 2017. The proposed design will potentially employ carbon fiber composite materials to shape the fuselage with an elliptical outline, rather than the circular shape of airplanes made with traditional materials, to reduce drag and wind resistance, thus creating a more fuel-efficient plane. The aircraft would be capable of carrying between 220 and 270 passengers at distances of 3,000-5,000 nautical miles.
Industry analysts project that Boeing could begin construction on the plane as early as 2020 and enter service by 2025.
While the project is still in its earliest phases, Boeing’s North Charleston facility could certainly be the right spot for production of this new airplane. North Charleston is one of Boeing’s two final-production facilities, and experts believe that Boeing should be considering which location – North Charleston or Everett, Wash., will provide the best value on what will likely be an expensive new program to keep costs at bay.