Boeing plans to build world's longest-range passenger jet

Thu May 2, 2013 6:05pm EDT
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By Tim Hepher and Praveen Menon

PARIS/DUBAI (Reuters) - Boeing has shown airlines a blueprint for the world's longest-range passenger jet, adding spice to a long-awaited revamp of its 777 wide-body jet, people familiar with the matter said.

Boeing on Wednesday launched a race against Airbus for sales of the newest long-haul jets by announcing it had begun selling an upgraded aircraft family code-named 777X.

First seen in the 1990s, the 777 cornered the market for large twin-engine aircraft able to fly routes previously only possible with four engines, earning it the nickname "mini-jumbo."

Analysts say the 777 is Boeing's most profitable plane, thanks largely to the 777-300ER, a 365-seat version that began operations in 2004.

Most of the industry's attention is now focused on a future 400-seat version known as the 777-9X, which is Boeing Co's response to a growing challenge from the largest version of Europe's newest aircraft, the Airbus A350-1000.

But talks between Boeing and potential buyers have also generated interest in a 777-8X that would be a successor to the 777-200LR, the industry's current distance champion, with a range of more than 9,300 nautical miles, people briefed on the talks said.

The 777-8X, boasting a range of 9,500 nautical miles, would be designed for some of the world's longest trips such as from the Middle East to South America.

"They are offering an ultra-long range aircraft in the 777-8X," said an industry source briefed on the plans. "It'll be the longest range aircraft in the business."   Continued...

Boeing flags flutter as an Airbus A380, the world's largest jetliner, takes part in a flying display during the 49th Paris Air Show at the Le Bourget airport near Paris June 25, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes