Boeing launches plans for longer 787 Dreamliner jet

LE BOURGET, France - Boeing Corp. is starting work on a stretched-out version of its popular 787 Dreamliner jet, in the hope of reigniting interest in the aircraft after battery-related problems.

Boeing announced the formal launch of its 787-10 program at the Paris Air Show on Tuesday and says it already has commitments from several customers, including United Airlines.

The original 787 can seat between 210 and 250 passengers. Boeing is already working on a longer version, the 787-9, that would hold between 250 and 290 passengers, while the 787-10 would seat between 300 and 330.

Boeing says the 787-10 Dreamliner will be the most efficient jetliner in history.

The company says it has commitments for 102 airplanes from five customers across Europe, Asia and North America that will provide a strong foundation to support development and production of the newest Dreamliner.

"The airplane's operating economics are unmatched and it has all the incredible passenger-pleasing features that set the 787 family apart as truly special," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner.

Design of the 787-10 has already started at Boeing, and international partners will be involved in detailed design in the months ahead. Final assembly and flight test of the 787-10 are set to begin in 2017, with first delivery targeted for 2018.

It remains unclear where the aircraft will be built - in Everett, Charleston, S.C., or both.

The air show is a platform for the race for sales between Boeing and its European rival Airbus, which is hoping that the event spark interest in its A350, its long-haul wide-body rival to the 787.