Boeing Moves Ahead With 7E7

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While Boeing has taken a beating over the last couple years from its archrival Airbus, this week's announcement of its 7E7 Dreamliner launch offers somewhat of a silver lining on the manufacturer's ominous storm cloud. On Tuesday, the beleaguered aerospace giant officially announced the start of the sales and marketing effort for its new 7E7 Dreamliner jet, a major step toward a formal launch of its first new aircraft in a decade. After mulling over several other sites, Boeing decided to build the new mid-sized jet in the Seattle suburb of Everett. The 7E7 would replace the slow-selling 757, which Boeing is discontinuing, and the 767 line, which has slowed to just one aircraft per month to sustain production until a controversial order for 100 U.S. Air Force fuel tankers is finalized. The 7E7, designed to help cash-strapped airlines save money on fuel and operating costs, could reinvigorate Boeing's sagging jetliner business, but is expected to cost about $10 billion to develop, making it a significant gamble for the Chicago-based manufacturer. While the new aircraft launch may help keep some jobs in the Seattle area, not all of the work will be completed within U.S. borders. Key suppliers include three Japanese manufacturers -- Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. -- and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica. Will the Dreamliner ever take flight? Boeing's sales efforts will dictate whether the production program will ever be launched.