* Boeing secures $100 bln boost for new 777X
* Airbus wins crucial A380 order from Emirates
* Gulf dominates buying, seeks bigger manufacturing role
By Tim Hepher
DUBAI, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Planemakers left Dubai with arecord $200 billion in deals after a desert rainstorm forcedorganisers to cancel the last day of its air show - an eventthat demonstrated their growing reliance on the Gulf to securesupport for big jets.
A flurry of dealmaking gave Boeing the momentum it needed tolaunch its latest aircraft, known as the 777X, with some 250orders worth $100 billion, as reported by Reuters last week.
Rival Airbus secured a much-needed boost for the A380superjumbo after Emirates ordered 50 more and brought its shareof orders for the world's largest airliner to almost half.
Fighters and jetliners fled the oncoming storm, whichflooded exhibition halls at Dubai's brand-new Al Maktoum airport. To reach it, delegates had driven through sand dunesearmarked for rapid development into an aviation metropolis.
"This is the land of possibilities," said aerospace analystRichard Aboulafia, drawing a contrast with disputes over thedevelopment of a new runway at London's Heathrow Airport.
"Everywhere else seems stagnant, relying on derivatives andcost-cutting measures," he added.
The payback highlighted at the Nov 17-21 air show is thatsome Gulf states such as Abu Dhabi expect industrial investmentsin their own aerospace industries, heating up competition withWestern suppliers while reducing the cost of new parts.
And Gulf airlines, which also increased orders for AirbusA350s, increased their leverage over planemakers as they seek toavoid past delays in developments of new jets. That could weighon a labour debate over where the new 777X should be built.
"I did speak to (Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO) Ray Connerand said 'in my humble opinion, please do not do to the (777)Xwhat you did to the 787'," said Emirates airline president TimClark, referring to delays in Boeing's outsourced Dreamliner.
"In my opinion it would be better produced in the U.S. inthe areas where you have a dynastic skillset."
Boeing secured the largest number of orders for a jet launchfrom Germany's Lufthansa and three Gulf airlines - Emirates,Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways - but quietly dropped plans toinclude a fifth airline from Asia, another fast-growing market.
Industry sources say it remains in talks with Hong Kong'sCathay Pacific, which could yet decide to order around20 of the 777X jets, designed to carry up to 400 people.
As they leave the Gulf to embark on a global chase for newdeals, Airbus will be trying to dent Boeing's claim that what isgood for Gulf carriers works equally well for other airlines.
"We are starting here but we see broad worldwide demand forthe 777," Boeing Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney said.
The plane's launch follows two years of discussions over howit should be optimised, with European buyers that fly shorterroutes in less extreme conditions pushing for a slightly leanerdesign without the extras needed for severe Gulf conditions.
Gulf airlines schedule some flights at night partly to avoidsummer daytime temperatures that limit performance, butincreasingly want flexibility to fly by day in all weathers.
DESIGNING THE BOX
The debate over where to put the baseline is comparable todeciding whether to tune a car for the thinner air of the Alpsor the valley, and affects how marketable a jet is globally.
At stake are deliveries for the 777X and its competitor, theA350-1000, that could stretch well towards mid-century.
"This is going to be a great machine and will do the job fora lot of carriers and there will eventually be 1,000-plus ordersat least, in my view," Clark said of the 777X.
Aircraft designs usually involve some form of compromise.Lufthansa, which was first to order the plane, said it was happywith the "box" of characteristics it had signed for.
Airbus won new orders for its 350-seat A350-1000 thatcompetes with the 777X and is due three years earlier in 2017.
Airbus has left the industry wondering about its intentionsafter suggesting it might add a bigger version of its A350-1000if the market votes en masse for 400-seat two-engined planes.
Sales chief John Leahy told Reuters it would in any casebuild the existing A350-1000 version as planned. Any changewould involve a new version but there were no such plans now.
Some analysts are nervous about a move that, even in itssimplest form of 2-3 extra seat rows, could cost $1 billion.
At this stage, most industry sources say Airbus is probablymore interested in signalling to airlines which have not yetmade their choice that the Boeing 777X will not go unopposed.
Both firms also sent clear signals that they would defendtheir positions in production of smaller jets like the Boeing737 and Airbus A320 that provide cash for other developments.
Airbus got a mostly cool reception after using the show toadvance a campaign for a seat width of 18 inches on long trips,something it says the 777X will lack. Boeing officials sayAirbus fails to meet this standard on some of its planes.
Airlines jealously guard control of their cabins whichaffect their brand, but the row is also about hard economics.
"It is completely an issue for airlines. We want to be ableto address our markets in the way we are best positioned in eachsegment," said senior Lufthansa executive Nico Buchholz.
"They should leave it to us," H.H. Sun, chairman of ChinaAirlines, told Reuters at an industry event in Hong Kong.
Armed with a tape measure, Reuters discovered that seatwidths in military aircraft displayed at the show were barelydifferent from the economy seats on a wide range of jetliners.
An Apache helicopter pilot seat and V-22 tilt-rotor Ospreytroop seat were 17-18 inches across. Unsurprisingly, the widestseat was on a luxury jet - a sofa measuring 82 inches wide.
- Airline Industry