GE Commercial Aviation Services has revealed that it might place an order for as many as 30 Boeing 787s.
The company's executivevice-president for product evaluation and strategy Bill Carpenter revealed the lessor's interest to Flight International during Flightglobal's US Valuation Conference in Washington DC in October.
"We expect some delivery slots will open to accommodate an order of that size," he says. "GECAS would also seek to support previously committed airline customer orders through purchase and leaseback financing. Where there is customer demand, we want to be part of it."
The sale and leaseback deals would be in addition to orders placed directly with Boeing, Carpenter says.
GECAS is interested in taking deliveries in a three-to five-year period after placing its order, and would prefer to complete initial deliveries by 2018, Carpenter says.
The US lessor traditionally only acquires new aircraft thatcan be powered by engines produced by its sister company GE Aviation. This would make the 787 more appealing than the rival Airbus A350 as the Boeing is offered with the GEnx while the XWB is only currently available with the Rolls-Royce Trent.
The lessor is "more optimistic" about the stretched 787-9 than the baseline 787-8 and is "interested in anything bigger", but Carpenter adds he is not discounting the -8 completely.
"The -8 still promises to deliver performance and economics not currently available in any variant within its payload category. If the 787 meets its marketed specifications with respect to passenger comfort, range, weight and fuel consumption, and is priced well, then it promises to be a great aircraft as well as a great investment," he says.
Although GECAS is a major Boeing customer, having ordered 435 aircraft, it is one of the only prominent lessors to have never signed up for the Dreamliner. International Lease Finance is the largest customer among leasing companies with 74 787s on order.
Other customers include Alafco, AWAS, CIT Leasing and specialised Boeing 787 lessor LCAL.