Boeing announces launch order for 7E7

All Nippon Orders New Boeing Jet
A computer illustration shows Boeing's planned 7E7 Dreamliner in the livery of  launch customer All Nippon Airways.Boeing via Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Boeing Co. board of directors has approved production of the 7E7 Dreamliner with a company-record launch order of 50 planes by All Nippon Airways, the manufacturer and carrier announced Monday.

The order is worth $6 billion at list prices, although airlines typically negotiate substantial discounts for large orders. The precise dollar figure of the order was withheld.

Dreamliner production is scheduled to begin in 2006. The first flight of the planes — billed as a lighter, roomier, more fuel-efficient airliner — is anticipated the next year and deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2008, according to the news release.

The deal set a record for the number of planes ordered from Boeing by a single customer to begin production. The old record was set in 1960 when Eastern Airlines and United Airlines each ordered 40 727s.

More 7E7 orders are likely in the coming weeks and months but “probably not on the order of magnitude of this order,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes spokeswoman Yvonne Leach said in a telephone interview.

The order includes the short-haul Model 3, which will have about 300 seats, and the longer-range Model 8, with 230 seats in two classes, with the exact number of each to be determined later.

“ANA’s selection of the Boeing 7E7 is consistent with our stated goal to operate the safest, most modern, efficient and comfortable fleet of aircraft in the world,” ANA president Yoji Ohashi said in the joint statement.

The 7E7 is designed to compete with the Airbus A300 series — manufactured by Boeing’s European rival — as well as to replace the 757 and 767.

While Airbus has touted its 550-passenger A380 as a solution that enables airlines to pack more customers onto each flight between major hubs, Boeing is betting that carriers will prefer smaller, more efficient jets to get passengers to their destinations more directly.

Speculation on a launch customer had been growing since Boeing, based in Chicago, announced in December that the company would begin accepting orders for the 7E7, Boeing’s first all-new plane since 1990. Japan Airlines also was considered a top prospect.

The Dreamliner, designed to use 15 percent to 20 percent less fuel per passenger with bigger windows and slightly wider aisles and seats than other planes, will be assembled in Everett, about 25 miles north of Seattle, where the 747, 767 and 777 are now made.

Mitsubishi, Kawasaki and Fuji Heavy Industries, Japan’s three leading industrial conglomerates, have contracted to provide about 35 percent of the 7E7, including the wings — the first time outside companies have been given the lead in wing production for a Boeing commercial jet.

ANA will decide later whether to equip the planes with General Electric GENX or Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines, either capable of providing 55,000 to 70,000 pounds of thrust.

The order will eventually enable ANA to replace its fleet of 61 medium-sized planes — 52 767-300s, two 767-200s, and seven Airbus A321s.