By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
The Boeing Co. is working with customers and suppliers to evaluate “several options” for improving the Everett-built 777.
Officials said studies include making incremental improvements to the wing and engines for the 777X. The company also is considering more far-reaching changes, such as designing an all-new wing and using new engines, the company’s internal newsletter reported Tuesday.
Boeing said it hasn’t set a timetable for making a decision. Jim Albaugh, president of Renton-based Boeing Commercial Airplanes, previously has indicated the company will present 777X findings to the board of directors by year’s end. The updated 777X likely will enter the market by late in the decade.
“We need to have a full picture on not only what the airplane can deliver but also a complete plan to affordably develop new products,” Jeff VerWey, who leads Integrated Product Strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in the company newsletter. “That piece is more challenging, but we continue to make progress and work with customers on all of it.”
Boeing’s facility at Paine Field could be a good bet for assembly of the 777X, based on a story in Tuesday’s Seattle Times. Citing unnamed sources, the publication suggested Boeing could even build a new wing of composite materials in Everett. The present 777 wing is aluminum.
Last month, a former Boeing executive raised concerns about space for the 777X at the Everett factory in this Herald story. Analysts also have raised concerns about Boeing continuing to concentrate too much work in the Puget Sound region, a worry that was suggested again recently following tornado damage at supplier Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan.
Also of note Tuesday, Boeing is keeping in mind space issues at its North Charleston, S.C., site. The company took out an option to buy up to 94 acres of additional land there, reports the Charleston Regional Business Journal.
Boeing plans to roll out the first South Carolina-built 787 in North Charleston on Friday. And the company reports first-quarter earnings tomorrow.