Boeing seeks exemption to deliver 787-9 with 12 mini-suites in mid-2014

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A Boeing 787-9 entering service in mid-2014 could feature as many as 12 "mini-suites" for first-class passengers if the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves the manufacturer's request.

Mini-suites featuring a seat, an ottoman and sliding doors are becoming popular among airlines, but the FAA rules prohibit the presence of any door stationed between a passenger and exit.

As a result, Boeing last month petitioned the FAA to grant an exemption from the regulation banning doors, according to documents posted in the Department of Transportation docket last week.

Boeing notes in the petition that the first 787-9 configured with mini-suites is intended to enter service in 2014, and the company needs at least 22 months after an exemption is approved to complete development.

Although the FAA rule is aimed at increasing passenger safety, Boeing argues in its petition that a cabin featuring 12 mini-suites will be safer. The mini-suites will accommodate 12 passengers in a cabin zone that can seat up to 40, and fewer passengers increases safety levels in general Boeing says.

Boeing also proposed a set of special rules for the mini-suite cabin, including adding a flight crew member whose sole responsibility is ensuring the doors of the mini-suite are locked open for take-off and landing.

The petition process allows the public to submit comments. Boeing asked the FAA to keep the comment period as short as possible so it can meet its delivery schedule .