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Boeing Shelves 747X for Faster Jet

March 29, 2001

SEATTLE (AP) _ Boeing is shelving plans for its giant 747X and will instead focus on developing smaller jetliners that will travel at nearly the speed of sound, the aerospace company announced Thursday.

By concentrating on the all-new jet, Boeing leapfrogs Europe’s Airbus in commercial aircraft technology.

The 747X was designed to compete head-on with Airbus’ A380 and was to carry more than 525 passengers.

The new aircraft could lead to a family of airplanes that could carry 100-300 passengers while cruising at Mach .95, just under the speed of sound. Sound travels at Mach 1, about 750 mph at sea level or 660 mph at 30,000 feet above sea level.

The 15 percent to 20 percent gain in speed could mean cutting more than an hour from some U.S. air routes, about two hours on some trans-Atlantic flights and up to three hours on some Pacific routes.

The new plane also would have the potential to fly farther than any other commercial aircraft. The longest-range models by Boeing now are capable of about 10,000 miles.

``When we combine higher speed, longer range, the comfort of flight at higher altitudes, and the environmental benefits of quieter landings and takeoffs, we have an airplane that will open a new chapter in commercial aviation,″ Mulally said. ``We are changing our new product development efforts to focus more strongly on this airplane that has caused such excitement among our customers. It will be an ideal complement to our current family.″

Earlier this year, Condit said the company would put more emphasis on mid-sized planes, the market served by Boeing’s 767. Last week, Condit and Mulally released some details of the proposed new aircraft, saying customers had shown a great deal of interest.

Flight International Magazine, a trade publication, reported this week that Boeing plans to invite up to 12 key airlines by the end of May to help plan the new jets. A similar group of airlines was used to advise Boeing in developing its 777 jet family in the early 1990s.

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