25 June 2013

4 out of 5 787-10 Launch-Customers are also A350 XWB customers. None of the Persian Gulf carriers is part of the launch group.

As Airbus moves closer to introducing the A350, Boeing is further broadening its widebody offering in the medium-large twin segment. The long-anticipated 787-10 launch comes on the heels of 102 orders from 5 customers. Scott Fancher, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president and general manager for airplane development, said at Paris Air Show that launch of the proposed 777X is also “rapidly approaching,” perhaps by year-end. The first 787-10, the largest of the three 787 versions, is to be delivered in 2018.

Among the customers launching the program are Air Lease Corp. (30 aircraft), Singapore Airlines (30), United Airlines (20), British Airways (12) and GE Capital Aviation Services –Gecas- (10). These are all new commitments, except 10 of the 20 United aircraft, rolled over from a previous 787 order and converted into the larger version.

The 787-10 is a 18-ft. stretch of the -9, allowing room for 40 more seats; Boeing says it will accommodate 300-330 passengers and have a range of 7,000 nm. Final assembly and flight tests are both to begin in 2017, with first delivery scheduled for 2018.

There have been concerns that, as a double-stretch of the original design, the -10's range might be insufficient for many carriers. And interestingly, none of the otherwise eagerly investing Persian Gulf carriers is part of the launch group—many of their routes are too long for the aircraft. But the increased range and slightly higher maximum takeoff weight of 553,000 lb. seem to have assuaged concerns. Reinforcements in the wing-to-body attachment area and on the landing gear were needed to accommodate the increased weight. Engine thrust will also be slightly higher than originally planned. “The range covers 97% of the widebody city pairs of the world,” Air Lease Corp. (ALC) Chairman/CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy points out. Its range will be 1,500 nm less than the -9's.

All of the 787-10 customers so far except Gecas have also ordered a version of the A350. United has 25 A350-900s on firm order; BA is taking 18 A350-1000s (plus options for 18 more); Singapore Airlines has firm orders for 40 A350-900s; and ALC has committed to taking 20 A350-900s and five -1000s. “That is a comment about the size of that market segment,” says Jeff Knittel, president of lessor CIT Transportation Finance. “The yields are still better and it is growing faster than short-haul.” Therefore “there is a demand for both aircraft.”

Based on the article “Boeing Launches 787-10 As A350 Enters Flight Tests” published in Aviation Week.

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