PARIS 2009: Boeing examines new designs and derivatives to compete with A350

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Boeing is actively studying two new derivatives of its long haul products and a clean sheet design to create a competing product against the Airbus A350 XWB.

Speaking at his company's Paris Air Show media briefing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson said that the airframer will decide between the double stretch 787-10, a re-winged 777 or an all new design.

The 787-10 would fill the spot currently occupied by the 777-200ER seating 305 passengers, while touting a comparable or longer range than the current offering of 13,890 km (7,500 nm).

Boeing is also exploring upgrades to its existing 777 with new cockpit technologies and fresh wing design for the large twin jet.

"We look at studies of all nature," says Carson. "Some...studies could even include such things in the future as potentially re-winging the airplane. And while no commitments have been made, each study has become a vital part of how we extend the utility and increase the value of [the 777]."

"Both the -10 and a re-winged upgraded improved 777 can offer great utility for customers. The trick is to find the one that addresses the needs most broadly so we can have broadbased market success," says Carson.

Carson says that the 787-10 and 777 re-wing are "not necessarily linked today" but adds that he and his company are actively working with customers to identify their requirements, find a product that will best address them and then explore the feasibility of such a venture.

Carson also says that a third option, a clean sheet design, is being considered as well if the 777 re-wing and 787-10 are deemed to be lacking.

Carson declines to specify either a proposed cost for a re-winged 777 or a timeline to achieve such a goal, though Carson indicated that the development and definition of Airbus's A350 XWB would be a key factor in the decision making.

"Certainly we pay attention to the capability of that airplane, and not only the capability which will be demonstrated as the airplane goes into flight test and the way the airplane is being marketed because that creates marketing expectations and allows people to think outside the box about what the world will look like in the future," says Carson.

Airbus plans to have the A350-900, which competes directly with the 777-200ER, flying by 2012, with an entry into service the following year.

Carson also declined to mention that if the green light is given to the 787-10 whether it would be the second or third 787 derivative after the stretched -9 or the short range -3.