PARIS, June 20 (Reuters) - Boeing's head of airplane developments said he was "very optimistic" that the world's largest planemaker would close the business for a new mid-market jet designed to serve the 220-270-seat market from the middle of the next decade, and that the jet would have a composite fuselage.
Mike Delaney, general manager of airplane developments at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said the final decision would be for Boeing's top leadership but that design, production and cost characteristics were all pointing in the right direction.
Speaking to Reuters, Delaney confirmed for the first time publicly that the proposed new aircraft would have a composite fuselage, a key decision seen as a boost for suppliers such as Boeing's sole composites contractor Toray of Japan.
In a separate briefing at the Paris Airshow, Delaney said the jet would make "extensive use" of composites and confirmed it would have a "hybrid" cross-section, apparently referring to the need for a slimmed-down cargo space. Industry sources say the fuselage will have an elliptical shape, seen from the front. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)