SEATTLE -- Boeing will announce Wednesday that it has reached a decision on the future of the 737, KING 5 News has learned.
It is expected that the decision will be to put off building an all new composite plastic airplane in favor of upgrading the existing 737 with new more fuel efficient engines.
Boeing's original plan was to make an announcement on the future of the 737 by the end of the year. However, it was moved up because of an American Airlines deal.
Wednesday's news is expected to also coincide with American Airlines' announcement for as many as 280 new planes in what is likely to be a split order between Boeing and Airbus, with Boeing receiving the lion's share of the deal.
Michel Merluzeau with consulting group G2 solutions says American is an order that Boeing must win, as Southwest and other major 737 operators are also being solicited by Airbus and new entrants from Canada in 737s market segment. At last month's Paris Air Show, the big news was the 737s competitor, the A320, which is already racking up monster orders for the A320 NEO or New Engine Option. Boeing has said that would allow the A320 to finally match the fuel efficiency of the Boeing 737-800.
While Boeing is still expected to offer an all new jet, eventually Merluzeau says the pressure is on to do some sort of upgrade now to hold its big piece of the so-called "single aisle" market.
The pressure is also on American, which has a fleet of over 200 aging McDonnell Douglas built MD-80s that average just under 20 years old. American also has a sizeable 737 fleet and has a number of new 737-800s currently on order, and is the first U.S. airline to take delivery of the plane with the new "sky interior" that provides more overhead storage and special effects on the ceiling off the jet, making the interior of the plane seem much larger.