Boeing admits it could be forced to agree to an earlier service entry date for its 7E7-9 stretch than is ideal due to pressure from potential launch customers and the earlier availability of the Airbus A350.

Since the launch of the baseline 217-seat 7E7-8 in April, the US manufacturer has been planning to introduce the stretch no earlier than two years after the -8's April 2008 target. As recently as the Farnborough air show in July Boeing said that the -9's service entry target had been pushed back to four years after the -8 to 2012, but Boeing vice-president for marketing Randy Baseler concedes that due to customer pressure it is looking at late 2010.

"People are asking us to commit to they have a friend in Toulouse who can," says Baseler - referring to the A350. "Ideally, we'd like to wait at least two years after the -8 for technical reasons," says Baseler. Boeing would like fly the -8 before commiting to the -9's specification to "understand the performance and structure fully", he adds, but to achieve the 2010 date that potential customers are pushing for, it cannot wait that long.

The larger versions of the two rival aircraft are being evaluated by several potential 7E7 customers such as Qatar Airways and Northwest Airlines.


Source: Flight International