From Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times:

The airplane industry is abuzz with divided views on how Boeing should address a major strategic dilemma: What plane can it build to counter the A321neo, the largest of Airbus’ wildly successful new single-aisle jets?

Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Ray Conner told employees last month he wants to figure that out this year. The two major options are either to produce a larger, revamped 737 MAX variant or to do a clean-sheet design, an all-new 797 airplane.

Enlarging the MAX could be good news for Renton, where the current MAX is assembled.

Choosing to build an all-new jet would open up yet again the future of Boeing’s factories in the Puget Sound region.

And for Boeing, either path is fraught with risk and expense.

Why this matters to North Carolina: Charlotte and Raleigh are likely to have more flights to Europe 10 or 15 years from now if Boeing can develop am effective “middle-of-market” aircraft between the 737 and the 787, with such a plane’s range capabilities determining in part exactly what sort of thinner routes are possible. And if Boeing goes with a new design, look out for another round of aircraft factory economy incentive zaniness (think very big bucks).