An International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) order for 50 Boeing 787s, plus conversion of two previously unannounced options (booked earlier this year along with a 777-300ER, for which ILFC was the launch customer) has brought total announced orders for the new twin-aisle twinjet to 634 from 45 customers since its launch in April 2004.
The lessor, described by Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Scott Carson as “a friend of Boeing,” also has signed for 10 Boeing 737s and converted one option, the total business being valued at $8.8 billion at catalogue prices.
Steven Udvar-Hazy, chairman of ILFC, said the lessor was already engaged with “half a dozen” customers for the 787s. “We are experiencing strong leasing demand from all over the world for the 787,” he said. He expects the 787-10 and rival Airbus A350-1000 XWB to be the “largest and last” variants of their respective families.
The latest orders bring ILFC’s total acquisition of Boeing jetliners (including former McDonnell Douglas designs) over the past 30 years to 769 aircraft: 430 B737s, 82 B757s, 79 B777s, 74 B787s, 57 B767s, 21 B747s, four 727s and 16 MD-80s and six MD-11s.
Asked about his latest view of the Airbus A350 XWB, for which he had been launch customer for the original but now abandoned variant (of which he had become a public critic), Udvar-Hazy said he had been in extensive discussion with Airbus about the new model’s final configuration. He said Airbus appeared to be taking a multiple approach, having started with a mainly aluminum aircraft, then gone to one with aluminum and lithium alloys and subsequently to one with composite panels over an aluminum skeleton.
ILFC was now talking to Airbus about the use of composites fuselage frames, for which he said there was still sufficient lead-time over the prospective service-entry date.
Deliveries of previously ordered ILFC 787s will begin in 2010 and be delivered at a rate of about one a month, while the latest acquisitions will begin to enter service in June 2015 and continue for about two years. The latest purchase makes ILFC Boeing’s largest 787 customer with total orders for 74 airplanes, all 787-8s bar a lone -9 variant. The latest 777 is to be ILFC’s 79th example.
Continued strong airline interest in current 787 models is so robust that Boeing has postponed a service entry date for the larger -10 variant to around 2013.
Present plans foresee 787-8 deliveries beginning in May next year, followed by the smaller -3 model in mid-2010. The larger 787-9 should follow by the end of that year. Total order numbers for each variant are not fixed, since Boeing officials say that customer purchase agreements include liberal allowances for conversion to alternative models.