By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
At the Paris Air Show, the Boeing Co. on Tuesday announced the program launch of the 787-10, the largest Dreamliner jet, with the backing of five customers.
The long-anticipated 787-10 was introduced with customer commitments to buy 102 of the planes, a strong sign of interest among airlines. Boeing plans to deliver the first 787-10, which seats up to 330 passengers, in 2018.
The 787-10 is in “great demand,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney told Bloomberg Television.
Customers for the new Dreamliner include United Continental Holdings, Singapore Airlines, GE Aviation Services, Air Lease Corp. and British Airways parent International Airlines Group.
United Airlines, the North American launch customer, ordered 10 787-10s. The order increases United’s total planned Dreamliner fleet of 65. The carrier plans to convert an order for 10 smaller Dreamliners to 787-10s.
“Advanced technology aircraft like the 787-10 are key to United’s future, enabling us to fly fuel-efficient, customer-pleasing aircraft that are the right size for many long-haul markets in our unparalleled network,” United CEO Jeff Smisek said in a statement.
Air Lease said it would take 30 of the 787-10 variant and three 787-9s. International Airlines Group committed to 12 787-10s, subject to shareholder approval. Before Boeing formally launched the 787-10, both GE Aviation Services and Singapore Airlines had signed commitments to order the largest Dreamliner.
Chicago-based Boeing is now designing the 787-10 and plans to assemble the first in 2017.
What’s not clear, however, is where Boeing will assemble the new Dreamliner.
Boeing has two 787 final-assembly sites — in Everett and in North Charleston, S.C. Both are building the 787-8, which seats up to 250 passengers. Boeing recently began assembly of the first 787-9 in Everett but has said both factories will build that model, which carries 40 passengers more than the smaller version.
U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., said from Paris that Boeing hasn’t decided yet where the 787-10 will be built, based on a conversation he had with McNerney during the air show on Monday. Larsen is leading a Washington delegation of almost 100 officials and business people in France because Gov. Jay Inslee decided to remain in Olympia, where lawmakers are struggling to adopt a state budget.
“Washington state is going to have to compete with other states,” Larsen said during a phone call with journalists Tuesday.
The same is true for Boeing’s 777X, which McNerney said would be launched later this year. The first variant, the 777-9X, will be followed by a smaller 777-8X with greater range, Boeing has said. With the 787 and 777X models, Boeing will have five twin-engine planes with seating capacities ranging from 210 to more than 400.
“The breadth of that product line will give customers around the world more choice than our competitor will be able to offer,” McNerney said.
Other announcements Tuesday at the Paris Air Show:
•Korean Air said it will order additional five Boeing 747-8 passenger planes and six 777-300ER aircraft. The order, which has not been finalized, will boost Boeing’s jumbo jet program. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to slow 747 production due to weak demand. Airlines have ordered only 36 passenger versions of the plane since 2005.
EasyJet said it wants to order 100 A320 new engine option jets and 35 of Airbus’ existing single-aisle offering. Syphax Airlines, a new Tunisian-based airline, also signed a tentative deal with Airbus for three A320neos.
Greenville, S.C.-based Carbures USA, which specializes in composite materials, announced plans to open a 60,000-square-foot location in south King County with 100 jobs by next year.
Bloomberg News contributed to this report.