UK longhaul carrier Virgin Atlantic Airways has ordered 15 Boeing 787-9 aircraft, placed options on another eight and has secured purchase rights for a further 20 jets.

Deliveries of the aircraft are expected to take place from 2011. The aircraft will replace Virgin’s Airbus A340-300s.

Boeing 787-10 graphic W445


Boeing 787

The airline has yet to make an engine selection for the 787s. It says the order, which it values at up to $8 billion, is the largest so far from a European customer for the 787.

It marks a change of strategy for the airline, which famously assisted with promoting Airbus's claims that four-engined aircraft types were more reliable than twin-engined jets, notably the Boeing 777, for longhaul operations.

Virgin Atlantic has so far only operated four-engined longhaul aircraft, including the Airbus A340, A380 and Boeing 747.

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