Boeing rethinking plans for short-range 787

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CHICAGO (AP) — Boeing Co. is reevaluating plans for a short-range version of its 787 airplane after the sole airline with pending orders went with other Boeing models instead.

Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, wrote in a company blog that Boeing will “continue to assess the market viability” of the 787-3, a model that Boeing describes as a “super-efficient airplane” aimed at the middle of the market. Boeing says the plane uses 20 percent less fuel than other planes of its size, and seats 290 to 330 passengers and has a range of 2,500 to 3,050 nautical miles.

Boeing has poured billions of dollars into developing the family of the sleek blue-and-white 787 jetliners, which feature radical departures from other planes in design to make the planes quieter, lighter and less fuel-thirsty. The initial flight of a 787 took place last month, two years behind schedule as the program has been plagued by parts problems and other delays.

The move to rethink the 787-3’s future comes after Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. converted its 787-3 orders into other models, a decision that left Boeing, based in Chicago, with no orders left for the plane in the company’s backlog, Tinseth said.

“Simply put, getting aircraft into their hands for earlier delivery was a better solution for them,” Tinseth wrote in the blog posting Friday.

Other models in the 787 family include the 787-8, which can carry 210 to 250 passengers with a range of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles, and the 787-9, which can carry 250 to 290 passengers with a range of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles. Boeing says it had a total of 851 orders for 787 models as of Jan. 7.