The Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner is the newest and longest member of the 787 family. The aircraft took its first flight on March 31st, 2017, with its first delivery taking place in March 2018 with launch customer Singapore Airlines. But with just 202 orders, the stretched Dreamliner variant comprises just under 11% of total 787 orders. Why isn’t the 787-10 as popular as its shorter siblings?
The order books
Looking at Boeing’s order book, we can see that a total of 1,882 Dreamliners have been ordered by airlines, governments, and private customers, around the world. Here’s how the three models compare in terms of orders logged:
- 787-8: 661 (35.1%)
- 787-9: 1,009 (53.6%)
- 787-10: 202 (10.7%)
As you can see, the demand for the 787-10 is greatly eclipsed by the -8 and -9.
Indeed, there are several reasons for this. Let’s look at them now.
“As a stretch of the 787-9, the 787-10 leverages the family’s proven technology, long range and preferred passenger experience, with unprecedented efficiency: 10 percent better fuel and emissions than the best on offer by the competition and 25 percent better than the airplanes it will replace.” -Boeing website
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A shorter range
We’ve noted time and time again that the 787 was a game-changing aircraft that would unlock long-distance, low-demand routes. This was made possible by the Dreamliner’s revolutionary fuel efficiency due to the latest engines, a lighter carbon-composite fuselage, and raked wingtips.
However, as is quite common with aircraft stretches, there is a tradeoff when it comes to adding those additional fuselage sections to create greater capacity. This typically results in a loss of range (unless additional fuel tanks are added, in which case efficiency suffers).
Therefore, while the 787-10 can carry 330 in a two-class configuration, 40 more passengers than the 787-9, it comes at a cost to the aircraft’s range. Here’s how the Dreamliner variants compare with this metric:
- The 787-8 has a range of 8,460 miles
- The 787-9 can fly 8,785 miles
- But the 787-10 has the shortest range of the three with 7,400 miles
With this shorter range and larger capacity, the 787-10 moves into a more traditional category of long-haul aircraft, one that has already been filled by the 777. Indeed, carriers have chosen the Dreamliner for longer and skinnier routes, ones that don’t easily fill the cabins of bigger jets. The larger -10 is on the fringes of this concept.
It’s just newer
Perhaps the main reason but the 787-10’s lack of popularity is due to the simple fact that it is a newer aircraft. While the 787-8 took its first flight in 2009 and the -9 in 2013, the -10 didn’t take off until 2017. In fact, the -10 was only officially launched in 2013, at the Paris Air Show.
Meanwhile, the 787 program was announced back in 2003-2004, and orders for the -8 and -9 aircraft piled up in subsequent years. This means the -10 is as much as 10 years behind in terms of taking orders. In the meantime, many airlines have been comfortable making do with their 777-200ERs, a somewhat comparable aircraft in terms of range and capacity.
However, as older 777-200ERs continue to be retired, the 787-10 might just find itself as the perfect replacement, meaning that there’s still a chance that this variant could gain in its popularity.
Why do you think the 787-10 isn’t as popular as the shorter 787 variants? Let us know in the comments!