Boeing looks again at new large aircraft

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Boeing is reviving studies into the New Large Airplane (NLA) concept, following its decision in early 1997 to cancel development work on the 747-500X/600X stretch derivatives, Air Transport Intelligence sister publication Flight International reports this week. The NLA plans were dropped in 1995 in favour of the 747 developments.

Part of the current NLA work is an initiative to reduce the cost of developing new aircraft to half that of current projects. The Boeing 777 took 70 months and $7 billion to develop.

Boeing is also reported to be re-forming the 747-500X/-600X design team which was split after the project's cancellation. The team is reviewing "all considerations of the New Large Airplane".

Current NLA projects appear to be slightly smaller than the original NLA, which was a 747-sized aircraft carrying 600 passengers in three classes over 14,800km (8,500nm). A 91m-long stretched version with 750 seats was envisaged. The favoured option is now an aircraft slightly larger than McDonnell Douglas' MD-12 concept, which was either a 14,800km (8,500nm)-capable 430-seater, or a 13,320km (7,200nm)-ranged, 511 seat aircraft. McDonnell Douglas, which merged with Boeing recently, dropped the MD-12 in 1993.

Boeing publicly argues that there is no business case for such an aircraft, but the company is reported to be, "bothered about the fact that Airbus does not seem to be giving up on the A3XX".