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Second company in two days ready to buy Boeing 787

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For the second time this week a Boeing customer has demonstrated confidence in the North Charleston 787 program.

After announcing on Tuesday the sale of five 787-9s, Boeing today signed a memorandum of understanding with Azerbaijan Airlines for four additional 787-8s. The Azerbaijan flag-carrier currently operates two 787-8s, and with today's announcement intends to grow its Dreamliner fleet to 10 by 2030, enabling it to open new routes across Central Asia, according to a Boeing news release.

"Azerbaijan Airlines was the first airline in the Caspian and Central Asia region to operate the 787-8 Dreamliner and we currently have two 787-8s in service,” Jahangir Asgarov, president of Azerbaijan Airlines, said in the news release. “This MoU is the evidence of joint efforts to scale up the mutually beneficial partnership between Azerbaijan Airlines and Boeing. Over the years, our 787 airplanes have provided impeccable performance, and the addition of more long-haul airplanes will further expand the geography of Azerbaijan Airlines' route network."

Boeing says the 787-8 reduces fuel use and emissions by 20-25% compared to the airplanes it replaces, and the jetliner's range can reach up to 8, 400 miles in a typical two-class configuration. Built with lightweight composite materials and powered by advanced engines, the 787 family has an airport-noise footprint that is 60% smaller than the previous generation of airplanes. The company says that efficiency has enabled carriers around the world to open more than 300 new routes.

"Today's agreement extends our long-term partnership with Azerbaijan Airlines as they renew their fleet to capitalize on the growing long-term travel demand that we are seeing globally," Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in the release. "The global in-service 787 fleet has been the most-utilized widebody during the market downturn and we are confident in the proven performance capabilities of this airplane."

Deliveries for the 787 Dreamliner program have been halted for months while the company and the Federal Aviation Administration  look into production quality issues regarding tiny gaps found between the sections of the fuselage, about the width of a human hair. The gaps were not a safety of flight issue for the in-service fleet, Boeing said, but the company has been working since to address the problem. Boeing has declined to speculate on when deliveries will resume.

Reach Ross Norton at 864-720-1222.

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