ILFC head Steve Udvar-Hazy spent a cool $8.8 billion with Boeing yesterday, buying 52 more 787s, 10 737NGs and a single 777-300ER. At a stroke, the world’s largest aircraft lessor became the largest customer for the 787.

His firm now has 74 orders for the type out of a total order book now standing at a phenomenal 634 units. It also has half a dozen airline customers already signed up for the aircraft, he says. ILFC will take deliveries of 787s from January 2010 continuously up until June 2017.

Boeing chief executive Scott Carson was beaming as Udvar-Hazy, who had flown himself in from California that morning, praised his product. “I think what the 787 represents is what the world needs tomorrow,” he says, “Hopefully this is just the beginning of our 787 relationship,” he adds.

However, Hazy has not yet resumed his talks with Airbus over possibly turning his 16 A350 commitments into a firm order for the new A350XWB. He will talk to Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois today at the show, but the manufacturer is confident it will be able to persuade him to sign up.

Meanwhile, Boeing too is confident it can keep to its schedule to deliver the first 787 to Japan’s All Nippon Airways next year. Although 787 general manager Mike Bair admits there are “pockets that are behind”, overall the programme, “right now is where we have to be”.

“We see nothing to stop us meeting our commitment to ANA to get their first airplane in May 2008,” says Bair. Boeing is looking at the end of 2013 for the final stretch of the 787, the -10, which will have up to 340-350 seats making it a natural replacement for the 777-200ER, says Bair.

Source: Flight Daily News