Boeing 'gun shy' on 777X launch: ALC

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Boeing is understandably "gun shy" about launching the 777X programme and will likely move on the 787-10 programme first, says Air Lease Corp chairman and chief executive Steven Udvar-Hazy.

He says that he expects the airframer to launch the 787-10 programme by the end of this year and delay a decision on the 777X programme until 2013, to Flightglobal on the sidelines of the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit in Dallas.

Boeing has moved away from an end-of-2012 board launch for the 777X since Ray Conner took over as chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes from Jim Albaugh earlier this year.

"The 787 experience has been so overwhelmingly complex that Boeing is trying to be thoughtful and conscious of what is involved in launching what amounts to a new airplane," says Udvar-Hazy on the 777X.

"Boeing is gun shy about promising an airplane," he adds, noting that there is still a lack of clarity in regards to what the competing Airbus A350-1000 "will and won't" be.

The 777X involves not only a stretch to the existing 777-300ER variant but also new engines and new wings, which makes it more the equivalent of the 747-8 programme than the current development of the 737 Max.

Udvar-Hazy has been encouraging Boeing to launch the 787-10 and take more time on the 777X for some time. However, his position differs from other influential voices in the industry, for example Emirates chief executive Tim Clark, who have criticised the airframer for moving too slow on the next generation 777.

Emirates flies the largest fleet of 777s in the world, with three -200s, six -200ERs, 10 -200LRs, four -200LR freighters, 12 -300s and 77 -300ERs, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database. It has orders for an additional nine -200LR freighters and 74 -300ERs.

Udvar-Hazy says that ALC participates in a small group advising Boeing on the 777X that includes airlines like Emirates, Delta Air Lines, Qatar Airways and United Airlines.

The 787-10 will be a simple stretch of the still in-development 787-9 that will increase the payload capacity in exchange for an acceptable decrease in range. The aircraft will compete with the A330-300 and target high-density trunk routes in Asia, between Europe and the Middle East, and Europe and North America.

Udvar-Hazy says that from everything he sees Boeing will prioritise the 787-10 programme over the 777X.

Boeing is focused on reducing the weight of the 787-8, speeding up production of the type and completing the 787-9 in time for its first flight, which is scheduled for 2013, he adds.

ALC has orders for five 777-300ERs and 12 787-9s, according to Ascend.