Boeing hopes to make a decision this year on the 787-10 and aims to ensure that this larger capacity 787 avoids cannibalizing sales of the 777, another family of Boeing aircraft that may also be getting new models, the 777-8X and 777-9X.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO, Jim Albaugh, said: “We will do the 787-10 by all likelihood. We’re now working through design concepts. Assuming the customer interest is there, later this year [a decision will be made] and we will have something to offer towards the end of the year.” He says the 787-10 will have a shorter range than the -9 but will be able to carry 40 more passengers, so “the economics are very good”.

The fact that the 787-10 is a stretch of the 787-9 means it puts it in the realm of the 777 in terms of seating capacity. Albaugh, however, suggests otherwise. “We think we’ve got a good separation between the models. There’s 15% separation between the models. We’ve spread the sizing between them, so we don’t cannibalize any one aircraft.”

There have been some reports about a 777-8LX model, which promises more range, but Albaugh is dismissive. “I’ve seen something on a chart mentioning that, but I am focused on the 777-9X and 777-8X”, he says, referring to the new stretched version of the 777-300ER and 777-200 respectively. Albaugh was speaking to Aviation Week in Singapore today (Feb. 22) during a media roundtable.

Industry executives tell Aviation Week that Boeing recently issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a power-plant for these new 777 aircraft in development. Albaugh would neither confirm nor deny that such an RFP has been issued.

He says 777-8X and 777-9X is hugely important to the company. Boeing sold 200 777s last year and the aircraft is unbeatable in terms of efficiency, asserts Albaugh. But Albaugh also says Boeing is mindful of the fact Airbus is planning the A350-1000, “so we want to ensure we continue to have the more capable aircraft”. Capability refers to many factors such as range, dispatch reliability, maintenance costs and cost per seat, he adds.

He declines to disclose details on the 777-9X, except to say “it will be a significant improvement over the 777-300ER.”

As for the 737MAX, Albaugh says: “I hope we can have a couple of thousand orders before we deliver the first aircraft.” Boeing has already secured firm orders for the 737-8 and 737-9. Albaugh says it has also secured a 737-7 customer, but has yet to disclose who that is.

Albaugh declines to say when the 737MAX specifications will be locked, but asserts these are already effectively firmed up, because Boeing is giving MAX customers guarantees when it comes to the specs. He also says: “I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. I want to ensure that it is on spec and delivered on time.” Boeing has learnt from the lessons of the 787 program, he adds.

Boeing has started delivering 787-8s, but has had to do some post-production fixes to the aircraft in response to concerns about de-lamination. When asked for the manufacturer’s serial number of the first 787 that will require no post-assembly fixes, Albaugh says “around airplane 65 or so”. He says, based on current information, “all [787 aircraft] up to aircraft 55, in round numbers, have potential for the shimming issue. We’re inspecting the aircraft [and] it’s very fixable”. This “will impact some short-term deliveries...but deliveries for the year won’t be impacted at all”, he adds.