EVERETT, Wash. — While Boeing is still in the red, things are looking up for its airline customers and even for Boeing itself. Yet Wednesday, Boeing CEO David Calhoun indicated he’s in no rush to build a new airplane – at least not yet.
“It’s more important to me that we get our development tools where we need be, demonstrate manufacturing capability and manufacturing where we need to be before we call out the spec on the next new commercial airplane,” he said on the 2021 earnings call.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boeing had been talking about the next airplane referred to the New Midsized Airplane (NMA) – something to fall between a 737 and the 767. But despite the company consistently saying it continued to talk to airlines about what they wanted, the pandemic and big losses at Boeing appears to have put any new jet on the back burner.
That said, the company is working on it, designing a more robust digital platform to not only design the plane but to finally reach the dream of a highly efficient system where Boeing and its suppliers around the world can log into a common platform, even test the plane in a computer before ever cutting metal or forming composite material.
Now, Boeing has used massive digital tools, ever since it designed its first digital jet, the 777 in the 1990s, but a fully realized dream has not yet come to pass. It’s hoped this version will get the company to its goals of also being able to better manage costs of developing a new jet and even testing it in the digital world.
Where could it be built, whenever that day comes? Everett holds promise as the world’s largest building measured by volume will be a lot emptier by the end of the year when the 747 program comes to an end. Already, half the company’s production of its 787 Dreamliner was consolidated in North Charleston, South Carolina as a result of the extreme pressure from the pandemic.