The Boeing Co. outlined details Monday of its plans for the 7E7 "Dreamliner," a plane that East Valley economic development officials hope will some day be assembled at Williams Gateway Airport in east Mesa.
At the Paris Air Show, the Chicago-based aerospace company named five firms that will help design and build the airframe of the proposed jet and announced the Dreamliner name chosen by online voters.
Also Mike Bair, senior vice president of the 7E7 program, said the company is in talks with more than 40 airlines as it continues development work on the plane.
The need for Boeing to update its airliner technology was made apparent by the announcement of a huge order won by its top rival, Europe’s Airbus Industrie, from Emirates, a fast-rising Dubai-based international airline. Emirates announced it will acquire $12.5 billion in new Airbus planes, including additional A-380 double-decker jets.
Boeing is countering with the 7E7, a mid-sized jet that will use advanced materials to be super fuel-efficient.
The five outside suppliers named to Boeing’s airframe team are Alenia Aeronautica, Fuji Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Vought Aircraft Industries. But Bair said ‘‘we are not at a point where we can say specifically what parts or what percentage of the airplane will be awarded to any company.’’
The Dreamliner name for the plane received the most votes of four choices among those who cast a vote on a Web site as part of a contest sponsored by Boeing and America Online Time Warner. ‘‘Dreamliner’’ beat out Global Cruiser, eLiner and Stratoclimber.
Boeing is studying both 200-passenger and 250-passenger versions of the 7E7.
In a challenge to Airbus’ superjumbo focus, Boeing executives insisted the smaller Dreamliner is what airline customers will be looking for.
The 7E7’s range will be between 8,300 to 9,200 miles, allowing airlines to offer nonstop service between cities such as Washington, D.C., and Rome or Newark, N.J., to Rio de Janeiro.
‘‘We know that people prefer to fly directly to their destination,’’ Bair said. ‘‘The 7E7 will let more people do that. We estimate that there are more than 400 city pairs that could be served non-stop efficiently for the first time with the 7E7.’’
In addition, the jet will have wider aisles, more cabin humidity and will feel as if passengers are flying at a lower altitude than in other airplanes.
The 7E7, expected to begin operating in 2008, is the fuelefficient heir to the ill-fated Sonic Cruiser Boeing championed at the Paris show two years ago as a speedy commercial jet. The project was shelved last year after Boeing determined its customers wanted fuel efficiency more than speed.
‘‘We’ve made great progress in our conversion from the Cruiser to the more fuel-efficient version,’’ said Bair.
The Dreamliner is designed to be made almost entirely with advanced composite materials, which are lighter and more resistant to moisture than aluminum, Bair said. It is expected to be about 20 percent more fuel efficient than current jet models.
Among other technological advances, the 7E7 will have wider seats and an eyecatching fuselage design, Bair said.
Boeing expects there is a market for between 2,000 and 3,000 7E7s over the next 20 years.
Numerous states have announced plans to submit bids to Boeing to become the site for assembling the new airliner. Proposals are due by Friday.
Arizona plans to pitch Williams Gateway Airport as the best site for the project.