Boeing has now delivered over 1,000 of its 787 Dreamliner. This meant the 787 beat its predecessor, the 777, to the milestone by seven years. Meanwhile, circumstances surrounding the occasion may have led the planemaker to let it pass by without particular fanfare.
Over 500 orders before first delivery
Boeing has been on quite the journey with its Dreamliner program since it launched in 2004 with a firm order of 50 from All Nippon Airways (ANA). After years of delays caused by issues in the supply chain, worker strikes, and onboard electrical fires, the 787 took its first flight in December 2009. Boeing then finally delivered the new aircraft to ANA in September 2011.
The 787 was the first plane to pass the 500 order mark before the first delivery, as Boeing had already received 677 pre-orders. In 2013, a full 50 of the model were then grounded after the battery of a Japan Airlines 787 caught fire on the runway. However, when it all works, it is an amazing aircraft and a favorite of both airlines and passengers.
By the end of April this year, Boeing had delivered 1,003 of its 787 Dreamliners. Out of these, 376 are of the smallest 787-8 variant, 566 are 787-9s, and 61 are the stretched 787-10. The 787-9 also makes up the bulk of Boeing’s Dreamliner backlog, representing two-thirds of the 486 unfilled orders.
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Asymmetric construction and delivery timelines
The actual 1,000th Dreamliner, a 787-10 meant for Singapore Airlines, rolled out of the manufacturer’s factory in Charleston, South Carolina, in April 2020. However, it is yet to leave the facilities and remains on the ground in the US, sporting a ‘1000th Dreamliner’ sticker.
The 1,000th Dreamliner delivery, according to data from Cirium, went instead to China Southern Airlines. B-20EH, a 787-9 on lease from ALC, arrived at the carrier’s hub at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport on April 22nd.
The discrepancy in milestone number produced and milestone number delivered is most likely one reason why Boeing has been rather quiet about the accomplishment. Furthermore, the manufacturing quality issues discovered late last year essentially halted what was already a slow delivery rate due to the ongoing crisis.
Deliveries stopped entirely for nearly five months while Boeing conducted inspections of all its undelivered Dreamliners. Had these problems pertaining to specified skin flatness tolerances not existed, Boeing would have completed the 1,000th delivery sooner. As such, it is perhaps understandable the planemaker did not specifically announce the occasion.
Beating the Triple Seven by seven years
Still, April’s milestone hand-over to China Southern made the 787 the fastest widebody to pass the 1,000th mark, only ten years after the first delivery to ANA. The title was previously held by its stablemate, the Boeing 777, which saw 1,000 deliveries in 2012 – 17 years after the first was delivered to United Airlines in 1995.
The 1,000th 777, a 777-300ER, went to Emirates, the type’s largest customer at the time. The occasion was marked by large celebrations at a special event with over 5,000 people
What is your experience with the Dreamliner? How many of the variants have you flown on? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.