The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a firm favorite with airlines and passengers alike. Announced more than 17 years ago, the type has been in service for a decade to date. But which airlines had the privilege of launching each of the three variants? Let’s take a look.
The 787-8 – Launched by ANA
As the first airline to ever order the Dreamliner, back in April 2004, All Nippon Airways (ANA) secured its spot as the launch customer of the type. The airline placed a firm order for 50 aircraft, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2008.
At the time of the order, ANA asked for 30 of the 787-3, a middle-of-the-market variant tailored to domestic services. It would have a dense passenger capacity of 290 – 300 seats, ideal for ANA’s high-demand domestic routes. Ultimately, Boeing never developed the type, and ANA switched its order to the same sized but lower capacity, 787-8.
2008 proved to be an ambitious timeline, and with various delays to the program, it was 2011 before ANA finally received its first Dreamliner. It was officially handed over at Everett on September 25th that year, flying to Tokyo Haneda on the 27th.
Following a few weeks of proving and familiarization, ANA flew the world’s first revenue Dreamliner service on October 26th, 2011. The tickets for the flight were sold via an online auction, with one bidder paying an eye-watering $34,000 for a seat on the short trip from Haneda to Hong Kong.
The 787-9 – Launched by Air New Zealand
Working from the base model of the 787-8, the -9 stretched the fuselage by 20 feet (6.1 meters) and added 54,500 pounds (24,700 kg) to the maximum takeoff weight. This gave it a passenger capacity of 280 in a three-class configuration, and a range of 7,635 nautical miles.
As with the original Dreamliner, the 787-9 also fell behind schedule. Whereas the original entry into service was slated for 2010, it was 2013 before the prototype took its maiden flight. Testing was rapid, and the type was ready to go to its launch customer by summer 2014.
Air New Zealand was that launch customer, taking delivery of the 787-9 in its eye-catching black livery on July 8th, 2014. A glamorous handover ceremony took place at Paine Field to celebrate the handover, and Air New Zealand flew the aircraft directly back to Auckland, with the trip taking 13 hours and 27 minutes.
Despite being the launch customer of the 787-9, Air New Zealand had its thunder stolen in terms of the first revenue service. A 787-9 delivered to ANA took its first commercial service on August 7th, 2014. Air New Zealand only began its commercial services on August 9th, from Auckland to Sydney.
The 787-10 – Launched by Singapore Airlines
With the success of the first two Dreamliners under its belt, Boeing turned its attention to a further stretch of the fuselage. The 787-10 had been actively demanded by airlines including Emirates and Qantas since 2015, but even before the product was officially launched, the launch customer secured their spot.
Singapore Airlines placed an order for 30 787-10s on May 30th, 2013, conditional on a formal launch of the type. The formal launch wasn’t long coming after, with Boeing officially unveiling the 787-10 at the Paris Air Show in June that year.
The Air Show was a bonanza of 787-10 orders, with 102 aircraft sold during the event. These included Air Lease Corp, United Airlines, British Airways and GE Capital. Singapore Airlines also firmed up its previous order, and hoped to become the launch customer in 2018.
In contrast to the other two Dreamliner variants, the 787-10 was bang on schedule. Singapore Airlines received its first -10 in March 2018, handed over at Boeing’s facility at North Charleston, in the company of around 3,000 people. The airline rolled out a new regional cabin product on the type, and it began revenue service in May following weeks of crew training and familiarization.
To date, SIA has received 50% of its original 787-10 order. It remains the biggest operator of the type, closely followed by United Airlines. As SIA has upped its initial order to 44, it will remain the largest operator of the 787-10 for now. Etihad Airways is set to become the second-largest operator, with an order in for 30, of which nine have so far been delivered.
Have you flown all the Dreamliner variants? Let us know which one is your favorite in the comments.