A Clean-Sheet 737?

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Speculation is rampant in commercial jet circles that Boeing is ready to build a clean-sheet replacement for its bread-and-butter 737. "Everything's on the table," Liz Verdier, Boeing's spokeswoman for New Product Development, told Seattle's KING 5 News. While much of the focus on Boeing has been on its prestige lines, like the 787 Dreamliner and the new 747-8, the company's Renton plant is cranking out the latest generation of 737 at the rate of almost one a day. Although it continues to outsell its rivals, there is more competition on the horizon and that's why pundits are wondering if something completely new is in the works.

The single-aisle airliner market (not counting regional jets) has belonged to Boeing and Airbus for decades but new aircraft from Canada's Bombardier, China's AVIC and Russia's Sukhoi threaten to chip away at that dominance. Analysts say Boeing may also be gambling that Airbus will simply re-engine its next A320 and a new design will give Boeing a market advantage. It's likely a given that a new 737 would borrow heavily from the lessons learned in development of the mostly composite 787 to maximize efficiency for the budget airlines that typically fly the 737.