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

Fri May 3, 2013 2:33am 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...

A worker stands in front of an engine on the Boeing 777 at their assembly operations in Everett, Washington, October 18, 2012. REUTERS/Andy Clark