Table: Tough Choice

Boeing must pick one of three designs for its next airliner:

SONIC CRUISER

An all-new jet design promises to transport 250 passengers at nearly supersonic speeds. Problem is, business fliers might be reluctant to pay the premium prices that airlines would need to charge for flights on this jet.

CONVENTIONAL UPDATE

A new, nonradical design that would replace the slow-selling 767. The company says it could make this 250-passenger jet up to 30% more efficient than its predecessor. Downside: Rival Airbus Industrie could match it.

WING JET

The "blended wing", shaped like the B-2 bomber, would be much lighter than a conventional airliner. It could be built more cheaply and would burn less fuel. The drawback: There are no windows for passengers.

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