Faced with a potential gap in its order book before the 2020 introduction of its upgraded 777X long range jet, The Boeing Co. announced orders and options Tuesday for 16 of its existing 777 model, the 777-300ER.
Those announcements came at the Farnborough International Air Show in England, the largest international aerospace exposition of 2014.
Some analysts have speculated that Boeing may have to slow production of the 777 after 2016 because airlines are ordering the upgraded 777X instead of the existing aircraft.
The 777X will be equipped with more fuel-efficient engines, a new wing and a stretched fuselage to carry more passengers. The plane will also feature a more passenger-friendly interior with larger windows and a lower cabin altitude to keep passengers more comfortable on the long flights the 777X will make.
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Tuesday’s orders came from two leasing companies — Intrepid Aviation, which ordered six 777-300ERs and took options on four more, and Air Lease Corporation, which signed orders for six of the planes.
The twin-engine 777-300ER is a popular replacement for aging Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s in intercontinental markets. The plane is both more economical to fuel and to maintain than those four-engine aircraft.
Meanwhile, Boeing rival Airbus is also taking steps to fill its order books for a new version of its popular A330. AirAsiaX on Tuesday ordered 50 of Airbus’ update A330neo for use on its routes to Asia.
In other order activity, SeaTac’s Alaska Air Group, the largest operator of Bombardier’s Q400 twin turboprop airliners in the world, ordered an additional Q400 to supplement its all-Bombardier fleet. The 74-passenger Q400 flies regional routes for Alaska’s Horizon Air subsidiary.