Boeing is “assessing the market viability of the 787-3” after the only remaining customer for the type, Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), converted its order for 28 of the planned high-density, short-range version of the 787 Dreamliner to an order for the same number of 787-8s. “Simply put, getting aircraft into their hands for earlier delivery was a better solution for them,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth wrote in his blog on January 8.
The glaring question about whether Boeing intends to pursue certification of the type must go unanswered for the time being, however, as the company refuses further comment on subject. But with no further orders on the books for the 787-3, it stands to reason that Boeing won’t commit a disproportionate level of resources to its development, given the apparent lack of interest for the model outside Japan.
In fact, ANA became the last customer for the model when, in 2008, Japan Air Lines scrapped its order for 13 of the -3s in favor of more -8s. JAL’s decision came soon after Boeing decided to move the -3’s introduction from its original time slot, immediately following the -8, to some point after the eventual introduction of the -9–the largest of the three Dreamliner variants. Then, as the program’s first flight suffered repeated delays, any hopes ANA might have harbored for a reasonably precise plan centering on the -3s appeared to wither with Boeing’s apparent inability to offer a definitive service-entry date.
Nevertheless, according to a Boeing spokesman, “Until the assessment is completed, people will still continue to do work associated with the 787-3.”
Ordered by JAL and ANA to serve regional routes that could also involve gate-spacing restrictions, the 787-3 would offer a range of between 2,500 and 3,050 nm while carrying between 290 and 330 passengers. Using the same airframe as the 787-8, the 787-3 would feature blended winglets in place of raked wingtips, cutting the wingspan by 27 feet.