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Is Boeing Too Late to Build a Midrange Plane?

Is Boeing Too Late to Build a Midrange Plane?

Boeing ’s ambitions for a midrange plane may be the right idea at the wrong time—again. Last year, the Chicago-based manufacturer started conversatio

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Boeing ’s ambitions for a midrange plane may be the right idea at the wrong time—again.

Last year, the Chicago-based manufacturer started conversations with customers about building such a jet with a single-aisle cabin. Then, during the fourth-quarter earnings presentation in late January, Chief Executive David Calhoun all but confirmed that the company’s next jet would indeed address the “middle of the market” between long international flights and short-haul domestic ones.

This appears to end speculation that Boeing could prioritize a replacement for the troubled 737 MAX, which is now flying again. It is a good call not to undermine MAX sales with talk of a substitute.

Last week, the buzz increased after trade journal Aviation Week reported that the new jet could instead be a two-aisle model, reviving the so-called New Midsize Airplane project that Boeing abandoned when Mr. Calhoun took over last year. This time, though, the program wouldn’t just have two variants seating 225 and 275 people, but also a third, smaller one.

Boeing has been here before. In 1982, it addressed the middle of the market with its 757 and 767 models. But the 200-seat 757 turned out to be too far ahead of its time: It never gained popularity, only ever finding a place as a repurposed trans-Atlantic jet in the 1990s.

This post first appeared on wsj.com

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