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Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Seen landing after it's display on day one of Farnborough 2014.
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Seen landing after it's display on day one of Farnborough 2014. Photo by Vedant.

Boeing showcases 787-9 at Farnborough to counter Airbus

US airframer Boeing showcased its new 787-9 Dreamliner as it began an aggressive counter to European rival Airbus ahead of the start of the Farnborough air show 2014. Readers will recall, Boeing delivered the first 787-9 to launch customer Air New Zealand less than a week ago.

READ ONLINE: Video of Boeing 787-9 practising flying demonstration for Farnborough air show

Presentation by Randy Tinseth Vice President Marketing, Boeing. Copyright Boeing.
Presentation by Randy Tinseth Vice President Marketing, Boeing. Copyright Boeing.

Detailing the progress of Boeing’s newest twin-jet wide-body offering, Randy Tinseth, Vice President marketing, said the new 787-9 was ETOPS certified at a whopping 330 minutes “right out of the gate”. This will enable airlines to fly more direct routes over the ocean as they need to be only within 6.5 flying hours of the nearest airport. Currently only the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 powered 787-9s are certified. Certification for the GEnx engine is in progress.

READ ONLINE: Photos inside the Boeing 787-9 in test configuration

Presentation by Randy Tinseth Vice President Marketing, Boeing. Copyright Boeing.
Presentation by Randy Tinseth Vice President Marketing, Boeing. Copyright Boeing.

The 787-9 is about 20 feet longer than the 787-8 and carry 280 passengers in a typical configuration compared to the 242 of the -8. Range of the -9 is also increased to 8,300nm compared to the 7,750nm of the shorter sibling. Boeing is positioning the -9 as a “growth vehicle” for airlines who are looking to replace their Airbus A330s/A340s and Boeing 777-200ERs.

Combating the A350 and A330neo

Highlighting the completeness of the twin-jet wide-body product offering of Boeing, Tinseth came out strongly against the proposed A330neo (new engine option) offering by rival Airbus. He said the launch of the new model meant that Airbus is tacitly admitting it has failed with the new A350-800. This is reflected by the lack of orders for the aircraft. Tinseth went on to say the A350-1000 is also a failure and this means Airbus has a “one-trick pony” referring to the sole model the A350-900 which is the highest ordered variant of the A350 family.

Boeing twin-jet wide-body range compared to Airbus. Presentation by Randy Tinseth Vice President Marketing, Boeing. Copyright Boeing.
Boeing twin-jet wide-body range compared to Airbus. Presentation by Randy Tinseth Vice President Marketing, Boeing. Copyright Boeing.

Dismissing the claimed fuel efficiency improvements by Airbus, Tinseth challenged the assembled media to ask Airbus, against which aircraft were they claiming their improved efficiencies against.

However, under the bravado, the A330neo clearly concerns Boeing. In the aviation industry any wide-body which sells more than 1,000 frames is considered a best seller, and very few aircraft can lay claim to this success. Boeing has two in this club, the 747 and the 777, and Airbus, the A330, which despite being discontinued almost a decade ago, still has an order backlog.

With an estimated development capital outlay of only $1 billion to $2 billion compared to the $5+ billion a new airframe requires, the A330neo will allow Airbus to close the performance gap with the 787 family at a substantially lower capital cost and in a much quicker time frame. This will translate in to much lower prices for a new A330neo compared to the 787, as well as better deliveries, all wrapped up in a proven airframe. In capital expensive markets like India, Airbus will be able to match up total life-cycle costs with the Dreamliner.

End of the 747-8?

Tinseth tacitly admitted the latest variant of the venerable Boeing 747 “jumbo-jet” the 747-8 is not meeting expectations. The company is only producing three airframes every two months and this too is a soft demand primarily driven by the dedicated freighter market, and given the poor economic conditions, this is also a weak demand.

With the upcoming 777-9X expected carry upwards of 400 passengers in a mixed configuration, can we expect the “queen of the skies” to be finally put out to pasture?

Share your thoughts via a comment.

READ ONLINE: Photos inside the Boeing 787-9 in test configuration

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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