Virgin Atlantic places $2.8bn 787 order

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Boeing and Virgin Atlantic have announced an environmental partnership, which includes an order for 15 787-9 Dreamliners, marking the largest 787 order to date for Europe.

The order, worth approximately $2.8bn at list prices, includes options for an additional eight 787-9s and purchase rights for an additional 20 787s.

The environmental partnership includes a joint biofuel demonstration aimed at developing sustainable fuel sources suitable for commercial jet engines and the aviation industry. The demonstration, scheduled for 2008 using a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400, is being worked jointly with GE Aviation and Virgin Fuels.

In addition, Boeing and Virgin Atlantic are working together on reducing fuel burn and cutting aircraft emissions on the ground by exploring alternatives to traditional aircraft operations at airports.

Boeing and Virgin Atlantic say they are partnering on trials of towing airplanes to “starting grids,” areas close to the active runway to start engines pre-flight, with a goal of reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions by up to 50 percent, as well as limiting community noise.

Trials conducted at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports and San Francisco International Airport are said to have produced positive results, and work continues to develop alternative operational procedures at the world’s busiest airports.

The 787 Dreamliner, scheduled for entry into service in 2008, uses 20 percent less fuel per passenger than similarly sized airplanes and is designed for the environment with lower carbon emissions and quieter takeoffs and landings.

Since the 787 launch in April 2004, 44 customers worldwide have logged 544 orders worth more than $75bn at current list prices.