Conceptual 787-10 'would be a good airplane': Udvar-Hazy

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Boeing's conceptual 787-10 will provide an ideal replacement to the A340-300 and 777-200 on routes from the US west coast to Asia and trans-atlantic missions, says Air Lease CEO Steven-Udvar Hazy.

"I think it would be a good airplane," says Udvar-Hazy.

Boeing hopes to aim the simple stretch of the 787-9, with common Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 and GEnx-1B engines, landing gear and structures, at the A330-300's 295-seats and 10,830km (5,850nm) range, with a "low-cost stretch", says Udvar-Hazy on the sidelines of the International Society of Transport Aircraft conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, says the -10 would seat just over 300, an additional 43 passengers over the -9, and estimates of the aircraft's range have centred around 12,700km (6,900nm).

The potential economics of the new jet are "eye-watering", adds Albaugh. However, he says that the 787-9, with its goal of flying 14,800 to 15,700km (8,000 to 8,500nm) with 250 to 290 passengers, must be "debugged" before the performance of the "-10X" is fleshed out.

Udvar-Hazy says the 787's majority-composite airframe needs to "go on a diet" and convert titanium used for structural reinforcement to composite to lean out the empty weight of the aircraft.

"My gut feeling is that the airplanes will always be heavier, and they'll just have more power and they'll just increase the max takeoff weight and say we still meet the spec. It's just going to become a heavier more powerful animal," he adds.

Starting with 787 Airplane 20, Boeing will offer a 228,500kg (502,500lb) MTOW to recover a portion of its lost payload range capability.

Albaugh says: "I'll be the first to admit that we're not going to meet the spec, but I think we'll be able to meet what our guarantees are. And you got to remember, the first airplanes are going to be a little heavy, there are a lot of things that we're going to do to clean the airplane up, a lot of things to do with the engine manufacturers, and I feel pretty comfortable that over time we'll be able to get to the numbers that you just quoted. When that date's going to be, I can't tell you."

That sentiment is echoed by Udvar-Hazy: "The feeling I have is on the -9 is that they've learned so much they'll incorporate a lot of what they've learned on the -8s."

Boeing hopes to deliver the first 787-8 to All Nippon Airways in late July, followed by the 787-9 in late 2013 to launch customer Air New Zealand.

Yet, after three years of delays to the programme. Udvar-Hazy concedes: "I don't want to make any prediction on when they're going to certify the plane or deliver the -9, I just don't know. I don't think anybody knows to be honest with you, people have expectations, but who knows what the FAA is going to do."

Looking farther down the line, Udvar-Hazy says a high gross weight version, not available until 2018 or 2019, of the -10, "or what I call the -10LR, because neither Rolls-Royce nor GE right now can give you the thrust and the configuration that makes sense."