Boeing concedes that the latest version of the A350 that Airbus is presenting to carriers is a stronger competitor than earlier versions, but believes it will more than hold its own with the 787 Dreamliner in the mid-sized cruiser market.

In fact, demand for the 787 is such that Boeing is "looking at a number of scenarios to maybe produce 10-20% more" aircraft than planned in the early years of the programme, says 787 programme manager Mike Bair. Boeing now has commitments for the entire first three years of production, meaning that new customers may find it tough to obtain the aircraft until 2011.


But, commenting on the apparent scarcity of early 787 delivery slots, Singapore Airline (SIA) chief executive Chew Choon Seng says: "They may have offered them to potential customers. But it is not a good idea for any supplier to pressure customers."

Chew recently revealed to Air Transport Intelligence, the sister online publication to Flight Daily News, that SIA is preparing to issue a request for proposals to both Airbus and Boeing for a sizeable order for mid-sized cruisers.

The carrier is evaluating the 787 and the A350. Chew acknowledges the progress Airbus has made with improving the design of its A330 derivative. "The A350 is a viable alternative to the 787," he says.

At present Boeing is planning to produce 94 787s in 2008 and 2009. It will decide on the rate increase by the end of the summer, says Bair.

On the eve of the show, Boeing had booked 266 orders and commitments for the aircraft from 21 customers. Of these 128 were firm orders.

Beyond that, another 24 airlines have "active proposals" for a total of 405 aircraft, says Bair.


The 787 is second only to the Next Generation 737 in terms of sales at this stage in the programme. "This is pretty remarkable for a widebody and speaks to the attractiveness of the aircraft in this environment," says Bair.


Source: Flight Daily News