Backed by five launch customers from across Europe, Asia and North America committing to 102 aircraft, Boeing pressed the “Go” button for its long-anticipated 787-10 development on June 17. United Airlines, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, GE Capital Aviation Services (Gecas) and Air Lease stepped up to support the stretched, longer-range Dreamliner, and they appear to have been influential in shaping the design and performance goals.
Appearing at a Paris Air Show press conference with Boeing CEO Jim McNerney and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner, Air Lease CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy praised the airframer’s efforts to get the balance right between maximum takeoff weight and range, now projected at 553,000 pounds and 7,000 nm, respectively.
“Our concern was that if the maximum takeoff weight was the same as [that of] the -9, the range would have been a little bit restricted,” Hazy told reporters. “We’ve been able to work out an arrangement where the [engine] thrust will be increased, and Boeing is coming out with some changes to the airplane that will strengthen the structure in some key areas. As a result, the takeoff weight for our airplanes will be a little higher than for the -9.”
Despite the distractions of the well documented 787 service-entry headaches, Boeing has been refining plans for the -10 for at least the past two years. The stretch will be achieved with a pair of fuselage plugs–one toward the front of the fuselage and one near the rear–extending the 787-9’s fuselage by 18 feet, allowing for a 15-percent increase in passenger capacity, making room for 40 more passengers. According to Boeing, the standard 7,000-nm range of the -10 covers more than 90 percent of the world’s routes served by twin-aisle aircraft while seating between 300 and 330 passengers, depending on the cabin configuration selected. The U.S. airframer claims the -10 will achieve this with operational efficiencies of up to 25 to 30 percent better than current in-service competitors, albeit not achieving this edge over the rival A350 XWB, which made its first flight just days before Boeing’s latest program launch.
Boeing is targeting first delivery of the -10 for mid-2018, when United expects to receive the first of the 20 aircraft it has ordered. Air Lease is expected to sign a firm order for 30 in the next few weeks and will take its first delivery in mid-2019. Gecas has committed to 10 aircraft, British Airways 12 and Singapore Airlines 30.