Boeing targets year end 777X launch

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Boeing is targeting a year-end board launch for its conceptual 777X, in time for a late decade service entry, said the company's commercial unit CEO, Jim Albaugh.

"We're working towards being in a position toward the end of this year to talk to our board. That's assuming the business case closes, that's assuming the technical trades are ones that close," says Albaugh, who was speaking at a press conference following the unveiling of Boeing's 1000th 777.

Boeing strategic goals for the decade including achieving parity between the re-engined 737 Max and Airbus A320neo along with making a signficant investment to further bolster its widebody family for the future.

Emirates leadership was briefed on the latest 777X studies earlier in the day, says Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates.

"Our teams have been in dialogue with the Boeing team for some time now, it's really very interesting to see this new aircraft if it will come out. It would be an excellent aircraft to have in Emirates, he says.

The conceptual two-member family is seen as a 14,800km (8,000nm) 407-seat 777-9X and 353-seat 777-8X and potentially even a third model in an ultra long-range 777-8LX. The baseline -9X and -8X each grow the lengths of the existing 777-300ER and -200ER fuselages and add a 787-style composite wing, say those familiar with Boeing's studies.

The launch of the new 777 family would likely be done in conjunction with a 323-seat 787-10X, a stretch of the 787-9 due for service in 2014, and would more evenly spread Boeing's widebody product line from the 242-seat 787-8 to the 467-seat 747-8.

"Obviously you don't want to have airplanes on top of eachother. You want to have them spaced, and I think with the product line that we envision going forward over this next decade, we'll have about a 15% difference in seat count among the different models that we will probably go forward with," says Albaugh.

Albaugh declined to offer any details on the 777X's potential efficiency in comparison to the 777-300ER, but says it would be a "pretty significant improvement" and "I think that our customer base would be very interested in."