American Airlines buys 787 Dreamliner

Posted on 15. Oct, 2008 by in Featured

American Airlines announced today that it would buy forty two Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft for eight billion dollars. The 787 represents a new technological milestone; the extensive use of light weight composite parts. As I have written previously by contrast the Airbus A-380 represents the end of a technological era, the aluminium period. Historically not a good place to be for marketability.

Boeing has three distinct models to serve the three distinct wide body airline markets. The 787-3 is perfectly suited for the lucrative transcontinental market in the USA (2,500 to 3050 nautical mile range). The 787-8 is designed for the USA to Europe market (7,650 to 8,200 nautical mile range) as well as for the South American routes AA flies. The final model the 787-9 is the long haul model capable of up to 8,500 mile range for long Indian and China routes. Boeing’s 787 can operate from current airports; using the same runways, taxi ways, gates and much of the same support gear as current models such as 757, 767, and the 777. Airbus Industries A-380 needs all of the above modified to operate.

Like the Lockheed Constellation (the last piston powered long range airliner) before it, the A-380 is the end of an era, a technological dinosaur. Very few markets will be able to operationally handle it; fewer will be able to operate it economically. I suspect also like the “Connie” its production will be a short run. I suspect it might not reach the breakeven point.

The Dreamliner on the other hand, capable of replacing current wide body aircraft with a twenty percent fuel savings, and customized to economically maximize the three most common market ranges will have a long run IMO.

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