Qatar Airways has expressed interest in Boeing's proposed 787-10X if the airframer receives board approval to proceed with the double stretch of the baseline 787-8 variant.
The carrier has firm orders and options in place for a total of 60 787s, without a definite commitment for any variant.
Speaking at a Seattle ceremony to mark the delivery of its first 787-8 on 12 November, Qatar chief executive Akbar Al Baker said that, based on Boeing's claims, the -10X promised "one of the best seat-mile costs of any airliner".
He indicates that a substantial number of these could be -10Xs. "Qatar still has 59 aircraft to be delivered," he says. "So we have the flexibility to change the type within the 787 family."
Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner confirms that Qatar is one of the airlines it has approached with its proposals. He hopes to be able to seek the approval of Boeing's board to proceed with the variant "within the near term".
The -10X will offer an (5.49m) 18ft extension over the 787-9, itself 6.1m longer than the -8, says Conner, enabling it to carry around 300 passengers. It is ideal for "high density regional routes" he says, offering 30% more seats than the 240 in the smallest member of the 787 family.
It was conceived early in the programme as a straightforward stretch of the 787-9. Earliest design renderings showed plugs extending all four main sections, while later versions showed only a stretch to the Kawasaki Heavy Industries section 43 and the Alenia Aeronautica-produced section 46.
It appears squarely positioned as an "Airbus A330 killer" and will also sit between the A350-800 and -900, for which Qatar has a total of 60 orders.
Conversations have been taking place with a number of airlines with view to becoming launch customer, says Conner. "We have had interest in the airplane for a long time," he says. "We will see if that interest continues to grow and then go to the board for approval."
The larger variant will be powered by the General Electric GEnx-1B PIP2 model or the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-TEN, both powerplants in the 76,000lb-thrust class.
Qatar expects to take delivery of a further four 787s this year. It has already taken formal delivery of two of these, with one already departed Seattle for in-flight entertainment fit-out at Boeing's Victorville. California facility and the other to follow next week.
Its first 787 will make its revenue service debut on routes between Doha and Dubai to allow crews the chance to familiarise themselves with the new twinjet. Long-haul services will be launched on 1 December when the 787 is put onto the Doha-London Heathrow route.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news