August 2012

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Boeing appears set to woo Air France/KLM with 787 visit

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Next week from November 4-6, Boeing will dispatch a 787 on a marketing trip through western Europe with stops in Paris and Amsterdam. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported Friday that Schiphol Airport officials had confirmed that the twin jet was slated to visit the Netherlands on November 5.

At stake is an order for up to 100 aircraft for delivery starting in 2014 to replace the carrier's older A340s and 747s. In May, KLM president Peter Hartman told Flightglobal the order had "stalled" because "the manufacturers are not willing to give us fixed dates and [aircraft] specifications."

Boeing appears set to give Air France/KLM the certainty they are looking for with a 787 visit to each airline's home base.

Program sources confirm that ZA006 (N787ZA), the second of two General Electric GEnx-1B powered 787s, is slated to hit the road for the new jet's third European swing.

Air France/KLM has always selected General Electric or SNECMA (or CFM) engines for its aircraft, putting the GEnx powered 787 at the top of the airline's interest list for replacement, though the carriers said they would likely opt for a mix of the two.

With three years to go before A350's entry into service, negotiations between Airbus and GE to have second engine option along side the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB have largely disappeared from public view. In May 2009, GE said that once ZA005 and ZA006 entered flight test, the engine-maker believed it had an opportunity to "restructure discussions" with Airbus around adding a second engine to the program.

GE had previously been comfortable with offering an engine for the A350-800 and -900, but was reluctant about developing a competing engine for the -1000, which is set to go head-to-head with the 777-300ER powered by the GE90-115B.

Let's see if a trip to Airbus's backyard will push the engine back to the forefront.

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