BOEING DOES not plan to begin development of a new 90- to 115-seat regional jet until technology is available to achieve a significant reduction in aircraft production costs.

The US manufacturer's continuing low-cost, small-aircraft study has set a target price of $16 million per unit, including $4 million for the aircraft's engines. Boeing, however, estimates that it is unable to get the next-generation aircraft's cost below $21-22 million.

Projected demand for a 100-seat aircraft sector has raised further doubts about the programme's financial viability. Boeing does not see a market for any more than 2,000 aircraft over the next 20 years, of which two-thirds are replacements for existing aircraft.

The company had hoped to cut costs and generate additional demand by teaming with Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) to produce a new 90 to -115-seat passenger jet.

China has since selected a consortium of European manufacturers (including AI(R) and, potentially, Airbus Industrie) to develop its planned AE-100 regional jet.

Source: Flight International