At the Paris Air Show on Tuesday, as expected, Boeing Co. launched the final and largest member of its Dreamliner jet family, the 787-10.
The jet officially entered the market with 102 orders from blue-ribbon customers United Airlines; British Airways; Singapore Airlines; GE Capital Aviation Services, the airplane leasing unit of General Electric Co.; and Air Lease Corp., the lessor run by longtime industry market-maker Steve Udvar-Hazy.
Udvar-Hazy ordered 30, as did Singapore. British ordered 12. GECAS ordered 10. United ordered 20, of which ten were conversions of previous orders for smaller versions of the 787. First delivery is scheduled for 2018.
In a briefing ahead of the launch, a top executive said Boeing hasn’t decided where the jet will be built.
“When we’re ready to announce it, we’ll announce it,” said Scott Fancher, Boeing vice president of airplane development.
Officials in Washington state are concerned that logistical issues of transporting the bigger plane sections to Everett, Wash., and fitting the completed planes nose-to-tail on an assembly line could rule out the 787-10 for Everett.
In that case, this largest Dreamliner would be assembled exclusively in North Charleston.
Designed to be highly fuel-efficient, the stretched 787-10 will carry about 320 passengers, 40 more than the 787-9, though with a shorter range — about 8,000 miles, compared to 9,800 miles for the 787-9.
Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney at a launch ceremony at the air show called the 787-10 “the most efficient jetliner in history.”
Because the plane is longer than the 787-9, Boeing did some minor structural beefing-up at different points, including the wing-fuselage attachments, and adjusted the landing gear to ensure better take-off performance.
In the briefing about Boeing’s wide-body jet plans immediately before the launch announcement, Fancher was asked why Boeing cannot be definitive about the manufacturing plan, and specifically whether the 787-10 will be assembled like the other Dreamliners in both Everett and North Charleston or only in South Carolina.
“When we’re ready to make public announcements of what we will do where, we’ll make them,” Fancher said. “It’s a big decision. We want to make the right decision for the airplane and our customers.”
Boeing may not want to commit to a manufacturing plan until it’s certain that the new North Charleston final assembly line can get up to speed on schedule. It has delivered only four Dreamliners so far.