US giant aims to get Japanese investors on board for Dreamliner

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The Independent Online

Boeing yesterday named its new 250-seat plane the Dreamliner and said it hoped Japanese investors would bear 20 per cent of the development costs of the new aircraft.

The name "demonstrates how the aeroplane's economics will enable more people around the world to fulfill their dreams of travelling to new places", Boeing said in a statement.

The moniker beat other contenders such as eLiner, Global Cruiser and Stratoclimber.

The world's biggest aircraft maker said it expected a consortium of Japanese suppliers, such as Kawasaki Heavy Industries, to stump up at least one-fifth of the development costs of the new aircraft. Japanese companies paid for about 20 per cent of the development costs of Boeing's 767 and 777 planes.

Boeing hopes to begin to sell the Dreamliner, also known as the 7E7, in 2004 and it is scheduled to start carrying passengers in 2008.

Chicago-based Boeing has marketed the twin-aisle plane to 40 airlines. It aims to sell as many as 3,000 over the next 20 years, making up an estimated 13 per cent of all aircraft sold during the period.

The new plane is designed to carry between 200 and 250 passengers, and will use 20 per cent less fuel per seat than comparable current models.

Boeing began pursuing the 7E7 in December after dropping plans to build the Sonic Cruiser, which it expected to travel near the speed of sound. Instead, Boeing expects the Dreamliner to cruise at more traditional speeds but to use up less fuel than traditional models. It failed to find customers for the Sonic Cruiser.

Boeing said it had already spoken to a number of airlines, including Japan Airlines System, and Singapore Airlines.