Chris Jasper/LONDON

Boeing has deferred launch decisions on the planned 747X Stretch and the 717-100 shrink, although chairman and chief executive Phil Condit claims to be bullish about the prospects for both aircraft. He says Boeing wants Japan to take part in the 747X programme, although the Seattle company has so far failed to secure a risk-sharing partner there.

Boeing Commercial Airplane group president Alan Mulally is believed to have chaired a meeting this month which considered the launch of both projects, but took no decision. Condit had earlier made a trip to Japan which was seen as a bid to persuade the Japanese Government and industry, led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), to help fund the 747X (Flight International, 28 November), although he now says the visit was made for other reasons.

"My focus on the Japan trip was to hold a technology forum, which we did," says Condit. "It was not a purpose of that trip to talk about the 747X, or relationships on that programme. We have a long and very good relationship on aeroplane programmes with Japanese industry. I expect that to continue".

Condit adds that "manufacturing technology" was discussed during the visit, perhaps addressing Japanese concerns that the 747X, based on a 30-year-old airframe, offers little in 'breakthrough' technology. He says the launch of the 747X is "very likely", but remains "convinced that the real growth in the market will be point-to-point", favouring 777-size aircraft.

At the other end of the scale, Condit says the 717 is hitting production targets and delivering improved efficiencies, with the launch of "an 80-passenger variant" being considered. "That's very cost-sensitive, but the regional market is a strong market and we think the 717 fits it very well."

• MHI has won a key parts subcontract from Airbus Industrie to produce aft cargo doors for the Airbus A330/A340 family.

Source: Flight International