Boeing is evaluating the entry into service timing of its 777-300ER successor and 787-10 variant, as part of its competitive response to the Airbus A350-1000.
Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Aviation Conference in New York, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice-president business development and strategic integration Nicole Piasecki described the 777 as "an incredibly successful airplane family", but added: "However, it will be challenged when the A350-1000 does come to market. It is our belief that the 777 family will be challenged, so we are going through conducting a widebody study to understand what sort of improvements we will need to bring to market."
Airbus added two years to the A350-1000 development programme, sliding its service entry to 2017, driven by a need to offer an updated Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine with higher thrust and airframe modifications for the higher maximum takeoff weights required by customers.
The capabilities of the new 777 "depends on our customers requirements, that depends on what in fact the A350-1000 turns out to be", said Piasecki. "And it also depends on the timing requirements of the marketplace and the dynamics between the [new 777] and the [787-10 variant], what sort of investment profile do we want to have and over what period of time and which airplane comes first."
The study, dubbed the 777-8X/9X, is looking at adding a carbonfibre wing and fuselage changes to the 777 family that updates the 305-seat 777-200LR and 365-seat 777-300ER.
The 787-10 variant, seen as a "relatively small statement of work", said Piasecki, would be a stretch of the 250- to 290-seat 787-9, and would offer a performance of approximately 320 passengers, twin 74,000lb (329kN) engines, with a range of 6,800nm (12,600km), slightly lower than its June estimate of 6,900nm.
Ahead of the 787-10's potential launch, Boeing plans to introduce the 787-9 at the end of 2013, which is expected to undergo its critical programme review (CPR) later in September "building off the load and flight test data on the 787-8", said Piasecki.