Allan Winn/SEATTLE

BOEING DOES NOT expect its proposed New Small Airplane (NSA) to enter service before 2002.

The project will be beaten to the market by McDonnell Douglas with its MD-95, it says, but it insists that the market is sufficient for up to three contenders.

Dick James, vice-president for the NSA at Boeing, says: "Several things will happen in 1995, but nothing will be signed, sealed or delivered," as Boeing negotiates with possible Asian partners.

The market is for "...slightly less than 3,000 aircraft over the next 20 years - but it's 70% replacement. Mostly that's in the USA and Europe - but the next largest entity is China itself," James says.

The NSA must, therefore, be priced so that it can directly replace an older airliner, he adds. "For a replacement," he says, "you can't put $1 billion into non-recurring costs. If you don't do dramatic things, you can't beat the economic bogey."

James says that all previous replacement programmes have ended up by producing a larger, more-expensive, aircraft than that being replaced, but " this market that's not the case. You're looking at a pretty sporty target - way below anything currently around."

Designing and building the NSA is easy, but designing and building it to hit this target has never been done before, he says.

While China, Japan, or South Korea could provide the essential cheap labour, James says, the NSA will probably have a Boeing identity rather than that of one or more Asian partners.

Source: Flight International