Boeing has temporarily moved engineers away from its sustainable aircraft design team to support the recovery of its commercial aircraft production according to new reports. 

An internal memo seen by media outlets saw the company’s leading technicians inform staff that engineers from around the business were being brought over to support its 737 and 777 programmes, including some working on the X-66A design with NASA

The X-66A project has been developing an alternative aircraft design using transonic truss-braced wing technology that could reduce emissions by allowing planes to fly higher and faster. 

The team is currently working on retrofitting a McDonnell Douglas MD-90 to use it as a demonstrator aircraft for flights beginning in 2028, though it is unclear if the movement of engineers could affect this timeline. 

The memo sent to employees was written by Boeing CTO Todd Citron, vice president of product development Mike Sinnett, and Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief engineer David Loffing. 

It said: “X-66 holds tremendous promise for the future of commercial aircraft and the learnings to date have bolstered our interest. 

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“At the same time, it is critically important that we meet our commitment to customers on 737-7, 737-10, 777-9, and 777-8F and on airplane deliveries.” 

News of the employee shift will likely be welcomed by those in the industry hoping to see Boeing urgently address quality issues at its factories, with 737 MAX production currently limited by the Federal Aviation Administration

The regulator stepped in to oversee Boeing’s production lines earlier this year after a series of worrying reports about quality control and safety issues at the company, following the blow out incident on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 8 in January. 

However, moving resources away from the sustainable aircraft development programme could cause issues in the future and Boeing will be keen to ensure it does not fall behind Airbus on next generation designs. 

While Boeing and NASA’s X-66 design could reduce emissions significantly, it is currently only set to be ready around the same time Airbus is hoping to launch its first zero-emissions hydrogen-powered commercial aircraft in 2035.

Though, while Airbus continues developing its ZEROe range of aircraft, the company has also previously expressed concern about financing for new aircraft development.