Boeing Preparing for a Rise in Jet Demand

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Boeing sees a market for 28,600 commercial airplanes over the next 20 years. The company pins most of its hopes on the 787, a mid-sized, fuel efficient, long-haul jet that goes into passenger service next year.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Here's a number that could be a big deal for the airline industry, if it turns out to be true: 28,600. That is Boeing's forecast for the total number of commercial airplanes that will take to the skies in the next 20 years. It's twice the number of aircraft that are operating today. The forecast for Boeing's own future is pretty good as well, as NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN: Next month, with great fanfare, Boeing will unveil the plane that has catapulted the company ahead of Airbus for the number of planes sold. The 787, a mid-sized long-haul jet which goes into passenger service next year, is quieter, more fuel efficient and less polluting than similar-sized planes. And Boeing says it will cost airlines 10 percent less to operate than other planes of its size.

So far, Boeing has 584 firm orders. In contrast, rival Airbus's A350 has just 13 firm orders. That plane is years behind schedule and had to be redesigned because of customer complaints. Airbus's new Superjumbo isn't selling as well as the company had hoped either, while Boeing's other aircraft are selling briskly. Aviation industry consultant Scott Hamilton of the Leeham Company says Boeing is on a roll.

Mr. SCOTT HAMILTON (Leeham Company): For so many years, Boeing was in total disarray, and almost on the turn of a dime, as it were, Airbus is now going through total disarray.

KAUFMAN: What's most interesting, he adds, is how quickly the tables have turned.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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