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Boeing Orders Up on Commercial and Fuel Efficient Jets

After years of lagging behind European rival Airbus, Boeing says 2007 is shaping up to be a very good year. The Chicago based airplane manufacturer says it delivered more than 100 commercial airplanes in the first three months of the year. And this week, the company celebrated orders for its new line of fuel-efficient jets. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.

Thousands of Boeing employees gathered at a hangar in Everett, Washington to hear the big news: a record 500 orders for a new jet that has not even rolled off the production lines yet.

General manager, Mike Bair says it is unprecedented. "It's absolutely unprecedented. It's never happened in commercial aviation before."

Mike Bair is the general manager of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner program. He says interest in the company's new line of fuel-efficient jets is extremely high. Brian King heads the company's airplane integration team. He says the plane appeals to energy conscious customers because the lighter planes burn 20 percent less fuel than comparably sized aircraft.

Brian King, Boeing Airplane Integration Team says, "Actually this is what airline customers are looking to do -- is try to cut down on their economy, get a fuel economical airplane and lightened load and this is actually going to do that."

But the success of the new plane brings new challenges for Boeing which is looking at ways to speed up production. Bair says the first planes will roll off the production line in July.

Bair believes the growth will continue, "We'll be building this plane for 20 or 30 years. It's not going to end at 500, so the orders will keep coming and this airplane will be in production for a long time,"

That is good news for assemblers such as Roger Cook. Every 787 that comes out of the production line is already sold until 2012. "I'm a contractor so it may mean a longer period of employment."

The orders cap a lucrative first quarter for Boeing, which announced delivery of 106 commercial airplanes in the first three months of 2007 -- its highest total in nearly five years. It also comes on the heels of rival Airbus's launch of its super-sized jumbo A380s, following costly production delays.