Boeing to step up pace on large-version 787

Boeing Co. plans to decide within the next few months exactly what to offer airlines when it creates specifications for the largest version of its 787 Dreamliner. The company currently offers two versions of the Dreamliner, which seat 210 to...


Boeing Co. plans to decide within the next few months exactly what to offer airlines when it creates specifications for the largest version of its 787 Dreamliner.

The company currently offers two versions of the Dreamliner, which seat 210 to 290 passengers. For several years, Boeing has promised that it would sell a larger model, the 787-10, that features roughly 300 seats and may offer as many as 310.

On Sunday, the Chicago-based planemaker lost out to larger rival Airbus SAS on an order from Emirates, the Arab region's largest airline, for 70 aircraft because it doesn't offer a big enough aircraft in the midsize, long-range category. Emirates instead chose Airbus's A350 XWB, which seats 300 passengers.

"The issue on the 787-10 has been that we're working with airlines of the world, and there's a number of different 787-10s that people want," said Scott Carson, chief of Boeing's commercial airplane group. "We're working with the airlines to harmonize on the best-optimized plane to support the broadest market, and we anticipate that in the next several months, we'll decide collectively what we want that plane to be, and at that point we'll go ahead."

Carson, who spoke in an interview at the Dubai Air Show, conceded that Boeing lost out to Airbus partly because "we weren't ready yet."

Emirates is still eager to hear what Boeing comes up with and hasn't ruled out placing an order with the U.S. maker as well, said Tim Clark, the airline's president.

With the Emirates order booked Sunday, Airbus has 266 firm contracts for the A350. The A350 order from Emirates, including options for 50 more of the A350 XWB, is valued at $27.6 billion.

Boeing booked 736 orders for the the Dreamliner through the end of October. The company has announced a six-month delay on deliveries of the first 787s, now due around late 2008. Carson said the program probably will not slip further.

"Everything we're seeing now says the six-month delay we announced earlier is sufficient, and we don't anticipate further delays," he said.

Components for the 787 are being made in Tulsa by Spirit AeroSystems Inc.

The Tulsa World Business staff contributed to this story.

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