According to reports from Reuters and Bloomberg, Delta Air Lines is reportedly interested in being one of Boeing’s first customers for the “797” – a new midsize aircraft with an all-composite fuselage. The 797 jet, which made waves at last year’s Paris Air Show, could fill a gap between Boeing’s single-aisle 737 workhorse and its advanced long-range 787.
“You’re going to see us participate in Boeing’s middle-of-the-market campaign,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian in a message to employees on the company’s internal website. “I hope that we’re going to be a launch customer on that program as well.”
For some that sentiment may relieve concerns that Delta’s dispute with Boeing in an international trade case would cause the airliner to favor Airbus’ competing jets in the long term. Last year, Boeing persuaded the U.S. Commerce Department to put duties of nearly 300 percent on the Bombardier C Series. Boeing alleged Bombardier sold 75 of the new planes to Delta at well below market cost. The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in January that the sale of the C Series isn’t harming American industry and blocked the duties from being imposed.
Boeing is currently considering all options for fabricating the carbon fiber composites for the 797, including various new out-of-autoclave and resin infusion methods. Boeing believes there could be a market for more than 4,000 such aircraft over 20 years starting around 2025 when the 797 would first fly with airlines like Delta.