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Boeing is taking on rival Airbus on the French manufacturer’s home turf, and it’s competing for billions of dollars worth of airplanes and thousands of jobs in the Puget Sound.
Airbus opened the air show with a big splash on Friday debuting the A350, the long-awaited and much-delayed rival to Boeing’s 777 and 787. It wowed the crowds in Toulouse, France, as it flew for the first time.
But Boeing made a big splash early in the show too. It officially started talking about the third version of the 787 Dreamliner, the 10X. GE Capital Services committed to buying ten 10X’s on Monday. That’s the first commitment for the largest version of the Dreamliner, which has yet to officially launch as a program.
Speaking on CNBC from Paris, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said the wide-bodies are expected to steal the show this week.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of wide-body action here,” he said. “Last year was Neo’s and MAX’s. This year is going to be wide-bodies.”
Boeing also inked some deals on the first day of the air show, including a $2.8 billion deal for nine 777’s from Qatar Airways on Monday, and Japan’s small carrier Skymark Airlines signed on to replace its fleet of 30 737’s with the new 737 MAX. It is the first Japanese carrier to sign on with the MAX.
While Airbus is debuting its new semi-composite A350, McNerney says Boeing is way ahead of its rival in dealing with the issues of putting a new plane with new technology into service.
“All the pain and suffering from the 787, all those technologies are moving to the 777 and moving to the next generation derivatives of the 787, and so we’re now maturing this lead,” he said. “We are now reaping the benefits. We’re harvesting the hard-fought gains of the 787 experience, and it’s going to serve us well over the next two decades.”
Boeing Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth also told KIRO Radio that a major announcement on the official launch of the 787-10X could be made in the next day or two, and that means the discussion of where the plane will be built can officially heat up.
Now that Boeing has announced its plans for the 787-10X, the question of where it will be built can now be asked.
The Seattle Times reports the 15 percent larger airplane might be too big to be built in Everett. Boeing already plans to build the fuselage for the plane in South Carolina, but it might be too big to fit in the Dreamlifter for a trip to Everett for final assembly.
Tinseth said no decision on assembly has been made.
“When we look at it, we have an extremely flexible production system,” he said. “We have options available to us, and we’ll make a decision on where it’s going to be built at the right time.”