LOS ANGELES Boeing Co. has launched the newest version of its 777 as it continues to evaluate production sites for the airliner.
The Chicago-based companys go-ahead is based on 259 orders and commitments for the 777X, a re-engined aircraft with a new folding composite wing, from four customers in Europe and the Middle East. Based on list prices, the agreements are worth more than $95 billion.
The launch was announced at an air show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer Jim McNerney reportedly said that a decision on the location for final assembly of the plane will be made within three months.
"Theres no specific deadline that were working at" for picking a production site, said a spokesman for the parent companys Seattle-based Boeing Commercial Airplanes unit. However, he said he had "no reason to doubt" McNerneys reported remarks.
The current 777 has a buy weight of about 150,000 pounds of titanium, according to industry estimates, which is expected to grow with the wings change from aluminum to composites, since this normally includes greater use of titanium.
Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers last week turned down a proposed labor agreement that included significant concessions and benefit cuts but would have extended the unions current contract by eight years to 2024 (amm.com, Nov. 15). It would have assured that final assembly, as well as construction of the new wing, would remain in the Puget Sound region. The 777 is currently built at Boeings Everett, Wash., facility.
The new orders and commitments announced at the weekend include 150 from Dubai-based Emirates Airline, 50 from Doha, Qatar-based Qatar Airways Co. and 25 from Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates. In addition, Cologne, Germany-based Deutsche Lufthansa AG previously committed to buy 34 planes.