Airbus, in blow to Boeing, to launch new long-range jet

Boeing's best-selling jet was grounded in March. AAP

Boeing's best-selling jet was grounded in March. AAP

Analysts had predicted that Boeing might try to announce some Max orders at the air show to demonstrate that the plane - one of Boeing's most popular models - still has support.

The U.S. planemaker is striving to bring its top-selling 737 MAX jet back into service after its grounding following two fatal crashes.

Airbus, the current supplier of IAG's British Airways (BA) and Vueling brands, was stunned by the announcement which came months after it lost a major BA wide-body aircraft order to its USA rival.

Boeing seems to be giving a thought to the suggestion by President Donald Trump to rebrand the grounded 737 Max. Despite acknowledging such risks exist, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined not to ground the fleet.

Air travel authorities around the world-including in the US, European Union, and China-have grounded Boeing 737 Max airliners while the company works to fix the problem. A total of 346 people died in the two disasters.

"I'd say we're being open-minded to all the input we get", he said. Besides the Boeing aircraft, the carrier operates Airbus A330 and A380 widebody jets on longer routes.

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Walsh, a former 737 pilot, said he would have "no hesitation" in boarding the plane and voiced confidence in the changes Boeing has made, having seen them first-hand on a 737 MAX simulator. The planes would be delivered between 2023 and 2027 to airlines owned by IAG, the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Air Lingus and other airlines.

Its range of 4,500 nautical miles will leapfrog the out-of-production Boeing 757 and nudges it into the long-jump category occupied by more costly wide-body jets.

Investigations into what caused the crashes are still ongoing, but Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has acknowledged that the jet's automatic flight control system played a role in both incidents.

Joanna Toole from Exmouth and former University of Plymouth student Clare Auffret were among those killed when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max crashed shortley after take-off.

Boeing commercial airplanes boss Kevin McAllister said he was "staying very close to the situation" and it was premature to make any predictions on delays for the program.

Analysts say almost 40,000 planes will be in service by 2038, double the industry's current fleet. Still while flyers remain skittish - many say they'll avoid the airplane, at least short-term, after regulators clear it - most industry insiders say the airplane will be fine long-term. Boeing on Monday increased its 20-year industry demand forecast.

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