Notes From Farnborough

Daily dispatches from one of the world’s great airshows.

The last remaining Vulcan bomber flies with the Red Arrows over Farnborough on July 9. (Farnborough Air Show)

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The first big sale of the 2012 Farnborough show went to Boeing—not for its 787 Dreamliner, but for more of its best-selling passenger aircraft, the 737. U.S. Air Lease Corp signed up for 75 of the company’s 737 Max jets, an order worth $7.2 billion.

Boeing did show off its Dreamliner, though, hoping for more sales, and announced a new design, the 777X.

The elegant Dreamliner soared through the cloudy, grey skies over Farnborough on Monday, the opening day of the behemoth UK international air show. It was the first civil air show display for the 787, a long-range twin-engine jet that started commercial service in October.

The Dreamliner can carry between 210 and 290 passengers, and Boeing has even bigger planes in the wings. The company is working on the 787-10X, which can carry 300 to 330 passengers more than 7,800 miles.

Another plane on the drawing board is the 777X, which will require a new composite wing, new engines, and changes in the fuselage, according to Ray Conner, who took over as president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes last month.

“What we’re trying to do is give the airline operators as many options as they want,” Conner told reporters. Boeing is in a heated competition for business with its European rival, Airbus, which is moving onto U.S. turf—literally. Airbus announced July 2 it was building an assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama. Conner quipped he was “really looking forward,” to welcoming Airbus into the Aerospace Industries Association, a U.S. trade group.

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