Boeing has unveiled a version of its 777 plane which is the world’s longest-range airliner. It can fly between virtually any two major cities in the world without refuelling stops. Up until now the longest-range passenger plane was the Airbus A340-500. The first 777-200LR – which stands for long range – has just rolled off the production line at the Boeing plant in Washington State and deliveries are expected from early next year.
Just five of the planes have been ordered, by airlines in Pakistan and Taiwan. Others seem to be waiting to see how it performs The latest version of the 777 can fly around 20,000 kilometres, the Airbus A340-500 has a range of 19,000.
Being able to grab back a number one position from the European company is important to Boeing. The commercial rivalry between the two is intense since Airbus overtook its US rival as the world’s top commercial planemaker.
Airbus is hedging its bets on the future needs of the world’s airlines, going big with its A380 super-jumbo, a double-decker plane with 850 seats, but also matching Boeing with smaller, more fuel efficient airliners.
The US company believes that smaller is better and that it can sell 500 of the long range 777 models in the next 20 years.