Boeing Commercial Airplanes (stand C300) is intending to take advantage of a "lot of uncertainty" regarding Airbus's A350-1000, as it seeks to fix a timeline for an improved version of its 777 twinjet.
Chief executive Jim Albaugh said at the Dubai air show that carriers will be wondering whether the recently-disclosed delay to the baseline A350-900 will "cascade back" to the A350-1000.
Airbus has already pushed entry into service for the A350-1000 back to 2017 as it concentrates on the A350-900, and Boeing is looking to "answer questions" about the likely arrival time of the rival aircraft.
"If the -1000 were to come out in 2018 then we'd have a 777X come out not too long after that," Albaugh said, pitching the timeframe at "the end of this decade".
Boeing has chosen to invest in improving the 777 instead of diverting funds to an all-new single-aisle aircraft.
Albaugh admitted that he had to choose between idealism and fiscal reality when the airframer opted to re-engine the 737 rather than build an all-new narrowbody jet.
"We wanted to do the new single-aisle," he said. "I'm an engineer."
But the airframer had to look at the non-recurring costs of a brand new aircraft and Albaugh said that the company "didn't have a good handle" on that, nor on the production system required to build up to 60 composite aircraft per month.
The manufacturer added that the risks of the timeline - particularly given the issues with the 787 - were too great.
Albaugh said Boeing did not want to promise customers a new aircraft by around 2019 "and then slip". After looking at the risk profile and the type of aircraft customers were demanding for, the airframer chose to "de-risk" its strategy, freeing up funds for the 777X and stretched 787-10.