Boeing will not unveil a major new aircraft programme anytime soon, but will continue investing funds into updates to existing products and efforts to develop next-generation manufacturing and design processes.
“It’s going to be a little while before we announce a big new airplane,” chief executive David Calhoun says on 29 April. “It’s very important we not drop a… design on the market now.”
Boeing is holding fire on major new programmes due to industry uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts predict the industry will not recover to 2019 air traffic levels for three or four years.
Additionally, Boeing lost $641 million in the first quarter.
Boeing had been contemplating developing a jet dubbed the New Mid-market Airplane, which was to replace 757s and 767s, carry some 270 passengers and have range up to 5,000nm (9,300km) miles. In January, Calhoun said he had ordered a fresh review of that project.
Though new aircraft are not forthcoming, Calhoun insists Boeing “is not out of the product development business”. The airframer will develop variations to its existing line of commercial aircraft and invest in projects to modernise manufacturing and engineering.
The “true differentiator” of Boeing’s next aircraft will be “the way we manufacture and the way we engineer, as opposed to the… design of the airplane itself”, Calhoun says.
“We have not let up on the investment we put into those capabilities,” he adds.