Boeing on Monday ruled out reviving its dormant 767 passenger plane as it continues to ponder options for a potential new niche in the middle of the aircraft market.
"Bringing back the 767 (passenger version) - I just don't see it," Randy Tinseth, vice-president of commercial marketing, told reporters on a conference call.
There has been some speculation Boeing would revive the 767 wide-body passenger line – which Qantas last flew in December 2014 – to offer airlines a low-price backstop in case a proposed brand-new mid-market plane suffered delays, or in case Boeing decided not to go ahead with that project.
Don't think 767, think 797
Boeing continues to target 2024-25 for entry into service of a possible family of jets with 220-270 seats, designed partly to replace single-aisle 757 and some wide-body 767 models.
"If it goes beyond that (date), that would be a challenge as (airlines) do have to replace those '57s and '67s," Tinseth said.
Boeing says it is examining the business case for such a jet. Tinseth declined to say when it might make a decision, but industry sources say it could start offering the jet this year.
"We continue to make progress on the programme. Things around configuration are coming together," Tinseth said, adding Boeing had not decided whether to offer two engine choices or stick with a single engine maker, as on its 737 and 777.
The mid-market plane would offer 40 percent lower costs per trip than some wide-bodies – although with shorter range – and it would offer airlines 30-40 percent more revenue than a single-aisle jet "with little or no additional cost".
Airbus says its largest single-aisle, the A321neo, has already scooped up demand in the market above 200 seats.
Tinseth said Boeing was meanwhile making progress in filling a production gap between the current 777 large wide-body model and its proposed 777X replacement, due to enter service in 2020. A contributing factor is a recent surge in cargo demand.
"There are a lot of aircraft in the pipeline right now," he said, adding the wider aircraft market is "very strong".