Singapore Airlines gave a jump start Thursday to Boeing’s plans to build a larger version of its 787 Dreamliner.
The Asian airline said it was ordering 30 of the 320-seat 787-10 aircraft. While Boeing is offering the aircraft for sale, it hasn’t formally committed to building the plane. The Singapore order is likely to spur the Boeing board to take that action.
While Boeing hasn’t yet published a list price for the 787-10, the order is probably worth some $8 billion based on the prices for the smaller versions of the Dreamliner, the 787-9 and 787-8.
The 787-10 will likely replace the 777-200 in Boeing’s widebody line up. The twin-engine jet will seat some 320 passengers in a two-class configuration compared with about 240 for the 787-8 and 290 for the 787-9.
Boeing is producing the 787-8 now and it will soon roll out the 787-9. If the Boeing board approves, the first 787-10 could enter commercial service in 2016.
While the plane has a larger capacity than its brother Dreamliners, it will also have somewhat lower range, trading passengers for fuel.
That configuration will make the 787-10 ideal for crowded Asian routes and for trans-Atlantic flights.
A significant number of orders for the 787-10 could spur Boeing to increase Dreamliner production above the 10 per month it has now targeted. That increase could cause the company to expand its aircraft assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C. or to make permanent a second, “surge line” at the Everett plant.
Singapore also ordered 30 new-generation A350-900s from Airbus. That plane is a rival to Boeing’s 777. Boeing is considering launching an updated 777, the 777X to counter that threat.