Boeing has begun windtunnel tests of the proposed 717-100X "shrink" regional jet variant of the 717 and is preparing data for airlines in the run-up to a launch decision this year.

Tests on the 35.9m (120ft)-long truncated airframe, which is four frames shorter than the -200, are mainly for stability, control and stall characteristics, says Rolf Sellge, director of 717 product marketing. Tests are focused initially on a baseline 86-passenger version, dubbed the -100X, although Boeing is also studying the lighter take-off weight, 70-75 passenger -100X "Lite" variant.

"We will take the data and see what value we can present to the airlines-and see what they are prepared to pay," says Sellge.

Boeing has produced take-off and landing weight performance gains with a version offered with a maximum take-off weight of 49,895kg (110,000lb). Sellge says this 717 "is nearly 2,270kg lighter than predicted" and 9,530kg lighter than the Airbus A318. Sellge confirms that Alitalia has been offered the lighter model.

Source: Flight International