AMERICANS have never been renowned for understatement. More often than not when they have something worth shouting about they want the whole world to know. It was no different when it came to the razzmatazz official ''roll-out'' of the new Boeing 777 this weekend before a giant audience of 100,000 guests drawn from virtually every corner of the globe. There were so many employees, customers, suppliers, government and community leaders, and journalists invited to witness the unveiling of ''America's newest transportation miracle'', the ceremony had to be repeated 15 times. The first batch of 7,000 guests was ushered into Boeing's Everett plant in Seattle at 6 am and the ceremony was then ritually repeated every hour right through to 9 pm. This was by no means a big fuss about nothing. The roll-out marked the arrival of Boeing's first all-new commercial jetliner in a decade and probably its last this century, developed at a cost of more than US$4 billion. Among those flying the flag for Hong Kong were John Swire and Son group chairman Sir Adrian Swire and Cathay Pacific Airways director of engineering Roland Fairfield. Cathay was one of eight airlines that helped Boeing in the design and development of the world's largest wide-body commercial twin-jet. Also among the guests was Stewart John, who was a key Hong Kong adviser on the B777 programme before he retired as Cathay's engineering director and vice-chairman of Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Co last year. He is still a director of Rolls-Royce among other companies. The show also heralded what could turn out to be a turning point in Boeing's fortunes. The Seattle Times optimistically had a headline last week: ''A new aircraft for a renewed Boeing''. Boeing's aircraft production rates have been fast declining. The number of new aircraft delivered slipped from 441 in 1992 to 330 last year, and is expected to fall further to 260 this year. This has resulted in substantial job cuts. Boeing's workforce was cut by 17,000 to 125,000 last year and a further 7,000 people can expect to go this year. Boeing's employees old and new are pinning their hopes on the B777 to stop the rot. And for this they are looking to the east for sales. Boeing forecasted that between 1993 and the year 2010, Asian carriers will acquire some 3,000 aircraft from manufacturers valued at about $245 billion, with Japan and China featuring as the world's two largest markets outside the US. Asia-Pacific would account for more than 30 per cent of the total world market over the 16-year period, said Boeing. After the turn of the century, Asia-Pacific is expected to surpass the US as the world's largest commercial jet market, averaging about $16 billion worth of new aircraft in deliveries between 2000 and 2010, in today's dollar terms. Japan is likely to need more than 600 planes between now and 2010, worth $60 billion. While Boeing said China would require 800 aircraft of varied shares and sizes, valued at $40 billion. A fair portion of this can be expected to be spent on medium-sized 200 to 400 seater aircraft - a fast growing market segment Boeing has not until now really got to grips with. The A version of the new B777 can seat 305 to 440 passengers, depending on the chosen seating configuration. Back in 1986 and in response to Airbus Industries' decision to launch its new wide body family, the A-330 and A-340, Boeing decided to go out to the airlines to find out exactly what they wanted for their future fleet requirements. This was a complete change of strategy for Boeing which had previously always rather stubbornly insisted it knew best. It initially consulted eight airlines - Delta Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines in the US, British Airways in Europe, and Japan Airlines (JAL), Cathay Pacific and Qantas in the Asia-Pacific - to define the B777's configuration and purpose. Cathay Pacific's biggest contribution, suggested by Mr John, was to widen the body of the cabin to 5.86 metres to enable maximum seating configurations of 10 abreast as opposed to nine. About 40 per cent of a total of 147 firm orders and 108 options on the B777 have come from Asian carriers. All Nippon Airways got the ball rolling in 1990 by placing firm orders for 15 and options for 10 more. Thai Airways International followed ordering six of the jetliners in 1991 and another two in 1992. The same year, JAL confirmed 10 orders and 10 options, Cathay Pacific ordered 11 and placed options on 11, and China Southern Airlines announced firm orders for six. The latest two Asian airlines to bring a smile to the faces of Boeing workers were Japan Air System which ordered seven B777s in June last year and Korean Air Lines, which ordered eight in December and options for an additional eight. Beijing-based Air China tops Boeing's secret hit list of potential B777 customers in Asia. Air China, which already operates other Boeing models, is believed to be looking at buying the B777 to operate on the so-called ''golden triangle'' between Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Qantas is another likely buyer. The question is when rather than whether Qantas will place an order. It is the only one of the eight original advisers on the B777 programme yet to do so. Also high on the list is Singapore Airlines which recently invited Boeing to offer terms on B747s and B777s. Malaysian Airline System could also order B777s to replace its ageing A-310, on regional routes. Another possible candidate is Ansett of Australia which is looking to go international this year with flights to Japan, followed shortly afterwards with flights to Hong Kong. Garuda Indonesia, Air India and China Airlines are seen as other potential buyers. But, of course, Airbus and McDonnell Douglas would like us to think differently.