hursday November 30, 12:08 pm Eastern Time
Boeing urges spacious airliner facilities
By Bradley Perrett, European aerospace & defence correspondent
LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Boeing Co (NYSE:BA - news), having scoffed at Airbus'
promotion of planes with shops and conference rooms, is now proposing similar facilities for its
Less ambitiously, the U.S. company is also saying it could fit simple sleeping berths in proposed new versions of its 747 airliner
without displacing any revenue-earning seats.
Empty space above the ceiling of the 747's main deck also offers other possibilities, Boeing says in a brochure for its proposed
larger versions, the 747X and 747X Stretch.
``By moving crew quarters and galley stowage to the airplane crown, space is freed for additional seats or innovative uses such as
conference rooms, bunks, shops, or changing rooms -- let your imagination take wing!'' the company says in the brochure.
Airbus, whose planned A3XX would be much larger than the current 747-400, has suggested airlines might fit it with bars,
shopping arcades, hotel-style bedrooms and other facilities.
Few airline executives think such fittings would be economic, and Boeing executives have ridiculed the ideas.
``Will the passengers wear seat-belts when they're in the bowling alley?'' one Boeing executive asked a few months ago.
Airbus [ARBU.UL] has never proposed a bowling alley.
Boeing staff have also recalled that in the early 1970s some airlines put spacious facilities in their first 747s -- in one case it was a
piano bar -- only to pull them out after a few years so they could bolt in more seats.
Yet Boeing's brochure shows a private cabin -- admittedly, not as large as the palatial chamber in a rival impression from Airbus --
plus a club-style lounge and other roomy features.
``Can you imagine convertible spaces for meetings, dining or sleeping; a...shower room, spaces for duty-free stores?'' it says.
The company said it had not changed its tune.
``The purpose of these graphics is to show that, if the airline chooses to have these kinds of passenger amenities, our planes, our
structures easily allow them to have that,'' Gordon McHenry, director of marketing development for Boeing's Commercial
Airplanes Group, told Reuters.
``What the airlines to date have been telling us is (they are more interested in) seating capacity in an efficient airplane.''
And, by contrast with Airbus, Boeing was not proposing to create a lower deck in the belly, displacing revenue-earning cargo.
Neither firm has committed its proposed super-jumbo to production, although Airbus says it has enough orders to do so.
Airbus is a partnership of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co NV and Britain's BAE Systems Plc(quote from Yahoo! UK &
BOEING'S SPACE ACE
The A3XX offers much more passenger space than the 747-400.
Almost all the passenger space in a 747-400 is on its main deck, which takes 10-abreast economy seating. The short upper deck is
only as wide as a six-abreast narrow-body plane.
But the A3XX would have a slightly wider main deck -- still seating 10 abreast but with a little more width per seat -- plus a
full-length upper deck as broad as an eight-abreast wide-body.
By Airbus' calculations, the floor area will be 49 percent greater than that of a 747-400, although the manufacturer proposes only
555 passengers, about 33 percent more.
And then Airbus has designed the belly cargo space with the standing height needed for another deck of passenger facilities -- but
not seats, as it lacks the escape doors needed for take-off and landing.
Now Boeing is playing its own space card, opening up a large volume above the 747's main deck, behind the upper deck, that has
always been empty except for cables and hydraulic lines.
The overhead volume is not high enough for seating but Boeing says it could free up main-deck space for up to 20 more
passengers -- for a total of 522 -- if things such as food trolleys were moved up there.
The space, already used by some airlines for crew rest compartments, could also be used for sleeping berths without displacing