The third anniversary has just passed of Boeing’s launch of the third and largest variant of its revolutionary, fuel-efficient Dreamliner jet: the B787-10.
The other two Dreamliner types, the B787-8 and the longer B787-9, are now in wide use around the world. The B787-10 has yet to take to the skies.
Sales of the B787-10 have reportedly been extremely slow after the flurry of orders announced at the launch, when Boeing secured 102 orders from two leasing companies and three major global airlines.
The B787-10 will be the biggest aircraft in the B787 family, 68.3 metres long with seating for about 330 passengers. But it will also have the shortest range, about 6430 nautical miles (11,908 kilometres).
Major assembly of the first B787-10 began in Nagoya, Japan, in March this year, with Boeing partner Kawasaki Heavy Industries starting to install circular frames into the fuselage. The first planes are scheduled for delivery in 2018, first to Singapore Airlines and then to United Airlines.
According to an article in respected investment advice website The Motley Fool, Boeing has only 153 orders from nine customers for its largest Dreamliner variant – which is essentially a stretch version of the B787-9.
“Naturally, that has some pundits wondering whether the 787-10 is just a dud,” author Adam Levine-Weinberg states. For his reasoning, see the full article.
Levine-Weinberg continues to say that the sales history for stretched aircraft is “mixed at best” and the B777-300 – a simple stretch of the 777-200ER, sold only 60 aircraft until Boeing turned it into the very successful and popular B777-300ER with the addition of more powerful engines, giving greater range.
Conjecture in similar vein, but focussing on the Airbus A380, has appeared lately in the form of an article about the A380 by Jalal Haidar, aviation expert and director general of the World Aviation Forum (WAF) in Washington DC.
Haidar contends that commercially, the A380 is “terminally ill”. Unlike the B787-10, the A380 is in wide commercial use, including by Qantas, Emirates and many other airlines. The reason for its terminal illness, according to Haidar, is because its high operating and maintenance costs are “by far the highest in the industry”.
The A380 is also being used by some operators to dump capacity in certain markets, Haidar says.
“Capacity dumping in international air commerce has long lasting effects on other airlines, their performance, labour and upsets the basic fundamentals of competition air commerce.”
Airbus has become increasingly pessimistic, Haidar wrote, with the current level of annual A380 deliveries, that are “expected to remain near or below 20 aircraft until 2017 but could be less if more customers opt to cancel their existing orders”.
For Haidar’s full exposition of his argument, see: Airbus A380: The early death of an aircraft and an era
Written by Peter Needham