A bigger and improved Boeing 787 Dreamliner could be gracing the skies within the next 5 years.
Following a provisional approval from its board of directors in October 2012, Boeing has announced that formal discussions are underway with major airlines and leasing companies regarding its doubled-stretched 787-10X variant.
The 787-10X concept has been in the works for a while – Boeing has been considering a double stretched and heavier-weight variant of the 787, which would directly compete with Airbus A350-900. After extensive study, Boeing is now adding one more aircraft to its long to-do list. With the 787-10X moving from product development to firm launch, Boeing sales teams are currently presenting detailed marketing data about the aircraft.
Although Boeing is holding formal discussions with airlines, it will need a final approval from its board to proceed and launch the program at an undisclosed date. Boeing commented, “The timing of a decision to launch the program will depend on market response during the next phase of our discussions about the airplane.”
If a firm decision to launch is made later this year, the aircraft is expected to enter service around 2018-2019.
Early Launch Contenders
The 787-10X has generated keen interest from major airlines, with Singapore Airlines and British Airways (BA) being early launch contenders.
Singapore Airlines is reportedly negotiating with Boeing to be the 787-10X’s launch customer, and the airline may place orders before 2012 is out. Singapore Airlines wants the 787-10X to replace 19 Airbus A330-300s it has in its fleet, whose lease term will expire in 2015-2016.
The airline also considers the 787-10X ideal for its intra-Asia growth, and its plans to tap into the expanding premium air travel demand, particularly in key growth economies in the Asia Pacific region. As a launch customer, Singapore Airlines and its low-cost subsidiary, Scoot Airlines, hope to secure the aircraft on attractive terms.
Meanwhile, British Airways (BA) is reportedly in talks with Boeing for an order of 60 Boeing 787-10X Dreamliners for BA’s use. BA has 46 Boeing 777-200ERs in its fleet, and the airline will replace these with the 787-10Xs. The rest of the 787-10Xs will be used to expand the airline’s vast network in Asia.
Several Middle East carriers have expressed keen interest in ordering the 787-10X, which offers better fuel efficiency and good range, to replace 777-200ERs, A330-200s and -300s in their fleets, in one fell swoop.
Boeing commented that it has been “working closely with airline and leasing customers to define the key capabilities and features of the 787-10X, and we anticipate strong market demand for this third and largest member of the 787 family.”
A Bigger Version of the Dreamliner Family
The Dreamliner family consists of two main variants, namely the base model 787-8 and 787-9, an enlarged version of the 787-8 base model.
Another current variant in the Dreamliner family is 787-3, a short-range version that targets high-density flights.
The 787-10X offers more seating and cargo capacity, while sacrificing the long range of the earlier two primary models.
The 787-10X will supersede the 777-200ER in Boeing's current catalogue and will compete against upcoming Airbus A350 series: the A350-900 scheduled to enter service in 2014, A350-800 in 2016, and A350-1000 in 2017, A330-300, and A340-300/500.
The main features of the 787-10X are as follows:
- A seating capacity of 290 – 310. The aircraft is stretched by 18 ft. compared to the 206-ft.-long 787-9. This allows it to seat an additional 43 passengers
- A range of 6,700- to 6,750-nm
- Maximum takeoff weight of Approximately 551,750 lb
- Powered by a Rolls-Royce (R-R) Trent 1000 TEN (thrust efficiency new technology) engine or a 78,000-lb PIP II General Electric GEnx-1B engine
The New 777 Variants Creep Along
A stall or slowed pace on the new 777 Variants seems inevitable. The imminent launch of the 787-10X is considered to have caused delays and reduced interest in the new 777 variants, namely 777-8X and 777-9X, whose estimated entry to services is around 2019. In 2012, Boeing slowed 777X development, but the entry into service timeframe remains unchanged.
Designed to succeed the 777-200LR/300ER, the larger, re-winged and re-engined 777X variants pose some challenges in terms of technology, cost and marketing strategy. On the other hand, the double stretch 787-10X is relatively straightforward.
The development of the 777X was initially at the top of Boeing’s priority list, followed by the likely launch of the 787-10X. Given the fact that the competing upcoming Airbus A350 will be in the market at the end of this decade, Boeing has to assess the timing of the next 777 and its overall commercial strategy as an aircraft manufacturer.
The 787-10X will certainly influence Boeing’s decision about the 777X because the 787-10X can take up at least part of the market intended for the 777-8X, the smaller of the proposed 777X twins.
In addition, there are resources issues to consider. Boeing’s product-development to-do list is long – the company is currently working on KC-46A tanker, 787-9, and 737 MAX programs. Boeing is also working in ramping up its production lines at Renton and Everett facilities. In addition, Boeing is working on accelerating its 787-8 deliveries, with target of 35-42 aircraft by year-end.
If the 787-10X eats into the 777-8 and 777-X market, what are the implications on Being’s overall commercial strategy?
Boeing will have to review many factors in making its final decision on launching either / both programs. Boeing’s other existing projects and orders, the likely roll out and delivery times, as well as market trends at the time will certainly influence Boeing’s final decision on the new 777 variants.
If Boeing receives positive responses and early orders for the doubled-stretched 787-10X variant, this bird will soon be a new addition in Boeing’s catalogue.