By Tim Hepher
LONDON (Reuters) - Boeing Co <BA.N> has opened a program office for a potential new mid-market jet and named a leader for the project, taking it a step closer to deciding whether to launch the new airplane, according to a staff memo.
The "New Mid-market Airplane" office will be run by Mark Jenks, who heads the 787 Dreamliner program. He will be replaced by Brad Zaback, said the memo seen by Reuters.
The office will also have a wider mission of helping Boeing evolve the way it designs and builds airplanes, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Kevin McAllister said in the memo.
McAllister said the memo did not constitute a program launch and was not an indication of when it would decide whether to take the next step with the program. "Those questions and others still lie ahead," he added.
A Boeing spokesman confirmed the memo's contents.
Boeing has said the potential new jet could enter service in the middle of the next decade.
Industry sources have said that they expect the jet to carry some 220-260 passengers in a twin-aisle configuration, serving a market between the workhorse 737 single-aisle jet and the wide-body 787.
(Reporting by Joe White; Editing by Richard Chang)