FARNBOROUGH: Boeing backs 787 after A330neo launch

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Boeing chief executive Ray Conner re-affirmed his confidence in the competitiveness of his product line-up against new competition in the form of the newly-launched A330-800 and -900.

“I feel comfortable that we have the right machine in every single market today,” Conner says.

The re-engining programme for the Airbus A330 is aimed at two of Boeing smallest widebodies in production, with the 787-8 and 787-9. It adds the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engine, which is essentially a customised version of the Trent 1000-Ten that powers the 787, to the A330 airframe.

“We know the [A330] very well,” Conner says. “We knew the airplane in the 1980s.”

By contrast, the 787 was a clean-sheet airframe when it was launched in 2003, introducing an all-composite fuselage and wing, electric-powered cabin pressurisation and wing-deicing and the General Electric GEnx family of engines. It also stumbled in development with a more than three-year delay and at entry-into-service, with mission dispatch rating still a full percentage point beneath Boeing’s benchmark average of 99.5%.

Conner notes that airlines rejected Airbus’ original plan for the A350 in 2005, which was essentially a re-enginining. The new model is the “same airplane they brought forward in 2005”, Conner says.

Airbus, however, is extending the wingspan by 3.7m (12.1ft), adding more twist and strengthening the area around the pylons to accommodate the heavier Trent 7000 engines.

“We understand all that and we’re still very comfortable with where we are,” Conner says.