February 23, 2012

Boeing Decision On 787-10 Likely This Year

Boeing hopes to make a decision this year on the 787-10 and aims to ensure that this larger-capacity 787 avoids cannibalizing sales of the 777, another family of Boeing aircraft that also may be getting new models, the 777-8X and 777-9X.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said, “We will do the 787-10 by all likelihood. We’re now working through design concepts. Assuming the customer interest is there, later this year [a decision will be made], and we will have something to offer toward the end of the year.” He says the 787-10 will have a shorter range than the -9 but will be able to carry 40 more passengers, so “the economics are very good.”

The fact that the 787-10 is a stretch of the 787-9 means it will be in the realm of the 777 in terms of seating capacity. Albaugh, however, suggests otherwise. “We think we’ve got a good separation between the models. There’s 15% separation between the models. We’ve spread the sizing between them, so we don’t cannibalize any one aircraft.”

There have been some reports about a 777-8LX model, which promises more range, but Albaugh is dismissive. “I’ve seen something on a chart mentioning that, but I am focused on the 777-9X and 777-8X,” he says, referring to the new stretched version of the 777-300ER and 777-200, respectively. Albaugh was speaking to Aviation Week in Singapore yesterday during a media roundtable.
Industry executives tell Aviation Week that Boeing recently issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a powerplant for the 777 aircraft in development. Albaugh would neither confirm nor deny that such an RFP has been issued.

He says the 777-8X and 777-9X are hugely important to the company. Boeing sold 200 777s last year, and the aircraft is unbeatable in terms of efficiency, asserts Albaugh. But he also says Boeing is mindful of the fact that Airbus is planning the A350-1000, “so we want to ensure we continue to have the more capable aircraft.” Capability refers to many factors, such as range, dispatch reliability, maintenance costs and cost per seat, he adds. He declines to disclose details on the 777-9X, except to say “it will be a significant improvement over the 777-300ER.”

As for the 737 MAX, Albaugh says, “I hope we can have a couple of thousand orders before we deliver the first aircraft.” Boeing already has secured firm orders for the 737-8 and 737-9. Albaugh says it also has secured a 737-7 customer, but has yet to disclose who that is.
Albaugh declines to say when the 737 MAX specifications will be locked, but asserts they are already effectively firmed up because Boeing is giving MAX customers guarantees when it comes to the specs. He also says, “I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. I want to ensure that it is on spec and delivered on time.” Boeing has learned from the lessons of the 787 program, he adds.
Boeing has started delivering 787-8s, but has had to do some post-production fixes to the aircraft in response to concerns about delamination.

Aviation Week  

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