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Originally published June 6, 2010 at 5:36 PM | Page modified June 7, 2010 at 6:32 AM

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Engine weight to complicate decision on 737

Boeing said adding more fuel-efficient jet engines to its existing narrow-body models would increase weight and the fees airlines have to pay at airports, complicating a decision to upgrade its best-selling models.

Bloomberg News

Boeing said adding more fuel-efficient jet engines to its existing narrow-body models would increase weight and the fees airlines have to pay at airports, complicating a decision to upgrade its best-selling models.

"It's more than fuel. The bigger issue is really how the total economic position plays out for the airline," Marlin Dailey, head of sales at Boeing Commercial Aircraft, said Sunday in Berlin, Germany, before Monday's start of the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association.

Higher aircraft weight translates into more fees imposed by air-traffic-control services and airports for landings, as most charges for airlines are proportional to the weight of a plane.

Boeing and rival Airbus are contemplating new engines for single-aisle planes, as all-new jets remain a decade from construction.

Rising fuel costs have prompted airlines to demand Airbus and Boeing deliver more efficient aircraft. Bombardier's entry into the market with its 110- to 149-seat CSeries has increased the pressure.

Both Boeing and Airbus have promised to decide on an upgrade by year-end.

Because the engine and wing of the 737 sit closer to the ground than those of Airbus' A320, Boeing would have more work altering the plane to accommodate a bigger turbine.

"It's a very complex algorithm, it really is, and there's a lot of factors that have to be considered," Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO James Albaugh said at the conference. "We're not trying to rush into this thing. Whether it's a re-engine or a new single- aisle plane, it's the customer who'll drive us to do the right airplane."

Albaugh also said Boeing is unlikely to go ahead with the 787-3 variant of its new Dreamliner model.

The 787-3 was designed to carry as many as 330 passengers as far as 3,050 nautical miles, compared with 250 passengers and as far as 8,200 nautical miles for the 787-8, Boeing said.

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