US major secures purchase rights for new twinjet as Boeing details roll-out events

American Airlines has given its first clear indication that it has purchase rights for the Boeing 787. Few details are available on the potential size and schedule of an American 787 order, and the news was buried within a statement promoting the expedited delivery and possible expansion of the carrier's current 737-800 order.

Boeing has shown itself to be accommodating. In the latest evolution of American's narrowbody order - which was revised after the 9/11 attacks - the manufacturer offered the airline three precious slot openings in the 737's 2009 production line.

American says that several more slot options embedded in its current contract could effectively shift its current order for 47 737-800s from 2013-16 to 2009-12.

Notably, that contract contains rights to order more 737-800s with delivery guarantees as low as 15 months. That same deal, American revealed last week, includes the right to purchase 787s. Boeing will not discuss possible 787 slot rights for American, but under current production forecasts nothing is available until 2012. American's ongoing bid to become the sole North American 787 maintenance, repair and overhauler under Boeing's Goldcare programme and a new $100 million influx of capital to attract third-party repair work have no bearing on a possible 787 order, adds the airline.

The 787 fits well with American's current strategy to increase fuel efficiency by 20% by 2020. This philo­sophy resulted in last week's decision to eventually pull the 737-800 order forward three years to replace some of its older MD-80s, many of which were delivered in the late 1980s. And American could be targeting replacements for all 16 of its 767-200ERs and about 12 of the 58 767-300ERs it now flies.

Meanwhile, Boeing has revealed the first details of the "7/8/07" roll-out of the 787, with a series of events around the world planned for 8 July. The main public activity will take place at the manufacturer's Everett, Washington base. This roll-out will be followed by several key events, including a first test flight that is planned for late August. Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first 787 in May 2008 to All Nippon Airways.

Source: Flight International