Boeing Co is close to defining the market for a bigger version of its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft and is in talks to sell some 200, the chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes told Reuters on Tuesday.
"We're within a few months of defining the centre of the market," Scott Carson said in an interview at the Dubai Air Show.
"We've been working for two years to find out what the (bigger) 787-10 wants to be."
The 787 is the fastest-selling new Boeing plane ever but some airlines are looking for a larger version.
"There are six to eight (sales) campaigns around the world (for the planned stretched 787-10) and each one wants a different thing," Carson said, adding that customers were looking for about 200 planes.
He said some would-be customers want as many as 425 seats and a plane that can fly perhaps 8000km, while others are looking for 380 seats as long as it can fly 12,000km.
Carson said Boeing was looking at building what he called a "simple" stretch for the 787-10, suggesting one approach would be to take the 787-9 and extend its fuselage while retaining the same wing, engines and landing gear.
He said Boeing is examining the varied requests of would-be buyers and trying to decide what makes most sense from a marketing as well as a cost point of view.
"There is more residual value if the plane retains commonality," he said.
Boeing is under pressure to examine a larger 787 partly because arch rival Airbus has launched its A350 XWB, a new plane aimed at the top end of the 787 market as well as at the segment dominated by the larger Boeing 777.
Boeing sold 787s to Qatar Airways at the Dubai Air Show this week but missed out on a major chance for the 787-10 when Dubai-based airline Emirates ordered 70 Airbus A350 XWBs and took 50 options.
Overall, Boeing has logged 736 orders for the 787 from 49 airlines and leasing firms, worth about US$120 billion ($160 billion) at list prices, according to Boeing's website.
Airbus said this week it expected the A350, which is not due for first delivery until 2013, to reach 300 orders by the end of this year.
The first 787 is expected to be delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airways late next year.