787-10 launch "a long ways away": Boeing's Albaugh

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh says the formal announcement of a 787-10 is "a long ways away", but calls the 300-seat stretch the "natural evolution" of the 787-9.

"Well the 787-10 is one that we are looking at," said Albaugh. "Our product development people have done some preliminary looks at that airplane. It looks to me to be an option that we really need to follow up on, and we will.

Albaugh's comments came at the recent US Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit in Washington, DC.

"We're a long ways away from announcing that airplane, but to me, it looks like a very attractive airplane," he adds, without specifying a time frame for the aircraft's possible entry into service.

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney referenced in the company's first quarter earnings call "a new [787] model or two as alternatives beyond where we are now, to be discussed later" to boost the programme's profitability, but Albaugh's comments appeared to temper the ambitions of a third 787 variant's quick succession, enabling a more varied model mix of the already massive backlog dominated by 787-8s.

While first envisioned in 2007 as an optimized stretch of the 787-9 to provide a one-for-one replacement for the 777-200ER in terms of performance, Boeing reexamined the 787-10 late last year as a simple fuselage stretch of the 270-seat -9, offering around 11,100km (6,900nm) of range to obsolete the Airbus A330-300.

The 787-9, with a 14,000km to 15,700km range, is slated for an entry into service with launch customer Air New Zealand in late 2013, while the first 787-8 is scheduled for a handover to Japan's All Nippon Airways in the third quarter.