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Boeing close to go-ahead on 777 upgrade

March 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM

CHICAGO, March 11 (UPI) -- Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said talk around the company consistently focuses on 2019 or before to launch the upgraded 777 jet.

The company has yet to officially kick off its upgrade program. But it has shopped the designs for the upgrades to Emirates Airline, International Consolidated Airlines Group and Japan Airlines in search of a "launch customer" for the new 777, which is currently being called the 777X, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Birtel said "around the end of the decade," was "consistently talked about," as a launch date for the 777X.

Tim Clark, chief executive officer at Emirates Airline, said last week Boeing was close to the point where it could take orders for the new jet.

A spokesman at JAL said the airline was mulling over the possibility of signing on as a launch customer, which is a pre-production order large enough to guarantee a company will go ahead with an expensive project.

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