Cathay Pacific Has Little Interest In Launching 7E7
While the likelihood of Cathay Pacific launching Boeing's 7E7 is low, the airline's VP
-Technical in the U.S., Peter Gardener, believes the airframer has "created a situation" where rival aircraft would have to "stretch out" to match the 7E7's technology, comfort and efficiency levels.
Gardener joined representatives from 80 airlines and eight financial firms in Seattle this week for what Boeing called a "progress summit" for the airplane, touring a mockup of the 7E7's interior.
Gardener said he couldn't envision his carrier opting to launch the 7E7, but in a conference call said the 3,500-nautical-mile, short-range version could be attractive to Cathay Pacific when the program is launched in 2008, barring circumstances similar to the Sept. 11 terror attacks or this year's SARS pneumonia outbreak.
Boeing's planned health-monitoring system for the 7E7 impressed Gardener, suggesting it could help carriers reach significant savings in maintenance costs. Boeing VP
-7E7 Customers John Feren said the system could increase maintenance intervals once airlines collect empirical data that beat conservative fatigue estimates for aircraft fuselages normally included in new aircraft programs.
Commenting on the interior mockup, Cathay's Gardener said Boeing has stopped the "cramming effect" in bin space, and said the passenger windows were much larger.
Feren and Gardener were joined by Lufthansa's Senior VP
-Corporate Fleet Program Nico Buchholz, who praised Boeing's 7E7 progress by saying the aircraft is approaching a capacity that's "acceptable" and a more suitable range.
Gardener said he'd prefer to see two engine offerings for the 7E7, and Buchholz said two would be a "nice mix," while three would be questionable.
The 7E7's fly-by-wire cockpit will feature yoke controls, Feren said but noted some airlines brought up the issue of fleet commonality regarding sidesticks. Pilots could transition from the 777 to the 7E7 cockpit in three days, Feren said.
Feren said Boeing could send out proposals with prices to carriers with estimated costs of the 7E7 shortly after the company's December board meeting, if the members give Boeing approval to formally offer the plane to customers.