Posts tagged 787
A few years ago, Boeing and Airbus both revealed their plans for the future. Airbus was going to go with the massive A-380 jumbo jet, while Boeing would go with the smaller 787 Dreamliner.
The A-380 had challenges: most airports could not handle a plane of its size and weight; airports needed to modify runways and terminals for the plane. In the meantime, the 787 became one of the most popular commercial aircraft in history, with sales totaling more than $100 billion.
How did things work out for the world’s two largest aircraft manufacturers?
The 787 has faced major delays in its development and is more than two years behind schedule. Its first test flight, scheduled for June 30, has been indefinitely postponed. Last week Boeing announced that it would purchase Vought Aircraft Industries’ 787 operations in North Charleston, South Carolina for $580 million. The plant manufactures the 787 aft fuselage assembly. The purchase gives Boeing greater control over the 787 manufacturing process, while helping Vought, which was unable financially to handle the 787 program. Elmer Doty, president and CEO of Vought Aircraft Industries said “the financial demands of this program are clearly growing beyond what a company our size can support.”
In the meantime the A-380 has gone into service with several carriers around the world.
How large is the A-380? You’ll find the answer in the video below, which was shot outside Toronto Pearson International Airport. Excited aviation “geeks” stand in a gas station parking lot, watching as aircraft pass directly over them at low alititude before landing across the street.
Watch the whole video, but pay particular attention at the 4 minute mark when an Emirates A-380 lands. Simply put, the plane is HUGE!
I posted an article in November 2008 about American Airlines announcement that it would purchase 42 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with delivery to start in 2012. Now, we have no idea when, or if, that delivery will take place.
Although Boeing executives had announced that the first test flight of the 787 would take place before June 30, they had to retract that statement this week, announcing instead that the “first flight of the 787 Dreamliner will be postponed due to a need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft.”
When will that first flight take place? Bowing was vague in its reply, “First flight and first delivery will be rescheduled following the final determination of the required modification and testing plan. It will be several weeks before the new schedule is available.”
Boeing originally planned for the Dreamliner to have its first flight in 2007 and enter service in 2008. Now, we can only hope that that they will achieve first flight in 2009. A Dreamliner video on Boeing’s website still says the first flight will take place in May 2009. In the meantime, The A-380, the massive new aircraft from Boeing’s biggest competitor, Airbus, is already in service with several airlines around the world.
The 787 is the hottest selling commercial airliner ever, even though it has never flown. How amazing is that? Imagine Ford having the largest selling car before the first model of it ever left the factory; that is basically what happened with the 787. But now with the continuing delays in production, orders may fall. Qanatas has already announced that it is canceling an order for 15 787s, and postponing delivery of 15 more for four years.
For me, this is a sad day. The 787 was truly a next-generation aircraft, unlike anything now flying. It would be more fuel efficient, make less noise, and create less pollution than any commercial aircraft now flying. The cabin would be more comfortable than any current aircraft. The seats would be more comfortable, the overhead bins larger. It would be the first commercial aircraft to be substantially built from carbon fiber rather than aluminum.
Now, some wonder if Boeing bit off more than it could chew with such a radical new design. I hope not. The 787 is such an evolutionary aircraft that I hope Boeing can resolve these issues and put the first one in the air soon. I look forward to being a passenger on one, the sooner the better