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The BBC's Simon Montague
"For Boeing it is time to turn eleswhere"
 real 56k

Robert Hewson, Aerospace consultant
"Boeing have missed the boat"
 real 56k

Emirates group manager, Maurice Flannigan
"The aircraft would probably shave one hour off an eight or nine hour sector"
 real 28k

Friday, 30 March, 2001, 06:11 GMT 07:11 UK
Boeing dumps plans for super jumbo
Boeing's delta-wing
Boeing hopes speed will beat size in the future
Boeing will build a near supersonic flying wing after ditching plans to build a super jumbo to rival Airbus Industrie's A380 super jumbo jet.

The proposed "Sonic Cruiser" would fly just under the speed of sound, shaving an hour off coast-to-coast, about two hours off trans-Atlantic and three hours off flights to Asia from the US.

In shifting its focus from size to speed, Boeing is shelving plans for a larger 747, which was being designed to compete head-on with the A380.


This is the airplane our customers have asked us to concentrate on.

Alan Mulally
Chairman and CEO
Boeing Commercial Airplanes
While Airbus has received 66 orders for its 555-seat jet, no customers have ordered the 747X, which would have carried 525 passengers.

Drawings of the Sonic Cruiser show an aircraft unlike any other existing commercial jet, with delta wings near its tail, two smaller wings near the nose, and a pair of engines blended into the wing.

"This is the airplane our customers have asked us to concentrate on," Alan Mulally, chairman and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said in a news release.

"They share our view that this new airplane could change the way the world flies as dramatically as did the introduction of the jet age."

Boeing says the new plane will be capable of travelling at high altitudes and meeting tough noise control measures.

Airbus victory

The decision leaves the way clear for the 550 seat Airbus A380 to replace the 747 as the world's largest commercial passenger jet when it enters service in 2004.

Thursday's announcement is the end of an 11-year project by Boeing to build the plane of the future for which it last year claimed it had secured 3bn of orders.

Alan Mulally, Chairman and Chief Executive, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
It is not as big but it is faster
And it means Airbus will have no competition in a market which is widely expected to revolutionise air travel in the same way as Boeing's 747 did when it was introduced 31 years ago.

Under Boeing's plan, the current 747 jumbo jet will be modified to allow it to fly more than 8,000 miles without refuelling, and the plans for a super jumbo will be kept on the drawing board.

"In our conversations, we have received clear direction from our customers that, with continued improvements, the 747-400 family will satisfy the majority of their large airplane needs," Mr Mulally said.

"We also will continue to protect the ability to do a larger 747 if and when our customers tell us they need one."

Delta-wing

Boeing recently said it was discussing with airline customers a triangle-shaped "delta-wing" plane that would carry about 250 passengers and cut transatlantic travel by 90 minutes compared to current subsonic flights.

Boeing is experimenting with delta-wing aircraft
Boeing is experimenting with delta-wing aircraft

The delta-wing plane is one of several designs included in a long-range program dubbed 20XX, which would fly farther than the current 200-seat Boeing 757 and the 250-seat 767 and at higher altitude, meaning it could avoid slower-flying jets.

According to one Wall Street analyst, the cost of developing a delta wing plane would be $9bn, making it more difficult for Boeing to simultaneously fund the $4bn 747X.

Boeing may prefer to distribute its research and development spending more broadly across its defence and space product lines, analysts have said.

Boeing last week announced plans to move its corporate headquarters out of Seattle, where it has built airplanes for 85 years, in a move aimed at switching the focus away from its commercial aeroplane unit.

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See also:

30 Nov 00 | Business
Airbus steals Boeing ground
19 Dec 00 | Business
Super-jumbo cleared for take-off
05 Jan 01 | Business
FedEx, Lufthansa eye superjumbos
21 Mar 01 | Business
Boeing to move out of Seattle
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