Yes, its full steam ahead. In fact thats the only new airplane we're working on. The market will determine will it will be introduced but it will most likely happen and probably enter service in 2007.
Its still in early stages. Some wind tunnel testing has been done but many more tests to go before the drawings are submitted to manufacturing. They're still trying to optimize the cruise performace and get to .98MMO, that will be followed by many low speed, high lift config tests.
I wouldn't say FULL steam. Probably more like just an eighth steam - and the "ahead" part is subjective as well. We were just informed of our group's surplus status for July layoffs.
As I understand it, preliminary sizing estimates have been accomplished. And yes, things like initial wind tunnel tests, structural studies, and performance reviews are in progress. I'm fairly sure the design requirements and objectives (DR&O) have not been completed. Some engineers have been assigned to this program. But most I know of are working their part of the "enterprise" as time permits.
You want to see this thing takeoff? Then start placing your orders. By no means are we committed to this program - it's not a done deal. I'd look for at least two things to happen before I become a true believer: 1) orders being placed, 2) An increase in staffing / hiring specifically for this program.
The company is not committed to anything, including whats in production.....but this is how every new program starts. I'd say the elite aero guys in the company are working on it 100% hence the full steam ahead. It only takes a handful of people at this stage. You won't see orders until we have something to offer and I'd say that's about 1 1/2 years off and an increase in staffing maybe 3 years off.
But based on the reported response from the airlines, this thing will sell. I think the company is confident in their philosophy how airline travel will shape up and couldn't agree more.
Never the less I hope we both get to work on it or fly someday. I'm betting we will.