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Boeing Mulls All-New Fuel-Efficient Airplane: Exec

Boeing is evaluating options for its 777 range of airplanes, considering whether to upgrade the 777 or build a totally new plane, Jim Albaugh, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told CNBC Monday.

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Boeing's European rival Airbus plans to develop its A350 range to compete more successfully with the 777.

“We can re-engine the 777 and make a great airplane better, or we can do a whole new airplane, which we can make 25-30 percent more efficient,” Albaugh said in an interview at the Paris air show.

An entirely new plane wouldn’t be ready for customers until 2019 at the earliest, while an adaption of the existing 777 could be ready four years earlier, he said.

Asked about the Airbus A320 Neo, expected to be a big winner at this year’s show, Albaugh said: “They are certainly going to get a lot of orders. Whenever you do a new airplane you get a lot of orders, but we have not seen any of our customers defect.”

“We are not worrying about what our competitors are doing,” he added.

The upgraded version of the A320 promises a 15 percent cut in fuel consumption compared to the current models, at a time when high oil prices and increasing environmental concerns are putting pressure on airlines.

Paris Air Show 2011 - A CNBC Special Report
Paris Air Show 2011 - A CNBC Special Report

Boeing has unveiled the 747-8, a new version of the 747 which will be the first major rival to the A380, the biggest plane in the world.

The air show has not started well for Airbus, which traditionally battles Boeing to announce the most orders over the duration of the show.

On Sunday, one of its A380 super-jumbo airplanes suffered a small collision and had to be withdrawn from a planned flying display.

The A400M or “Grizzly”, its new military aircraft which has suffered several high-profile delays, was withdrawn from air display after a gearbox problem. It will be able to perform in a flypast when French President Nicolas Sarkozy officially opens the biennial event later on Monday.

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