Emirates In Discussions With Boeing Over 787-10’s Purchase

Emirates seem to have cancelled their order for 50 Boeing 787-10 aircraft. Made at the Dubai Airshow in 2017, the order was said to be worth more than $15bn. However, with no mention of the Dreamliners in their end of year reports, and no sign of them on Boeing’s books, it looks like the purchase was never meant to be.

Have Emirates cancelled their order for the 787-10? Photo: Emirates

Rumors have been circulating for a few months that Emirates would cancel their 787-10 order, and now it seems it might have, very quietly, happened.

An Emirates Spokesperson said to Simple Flying:

In November 2017, Emirates announced a memorandum of understanding for the purchase of 40 Boeing 787s which at this time has not been converted into a firm contract.  However, we can confirm that discussions on the 787 are ongoing. 

As part of the group’s financial year results, Emirates recapped their fleet of future aircraft. There was no mention within it of any Boeing 787 aircraft, suggesting that the original order has been removed.

Boeing actually never added the order to their books, which was strange. Now, it seems that the 40 airplane order we were all so excited to hear about was nothing more than hot air.

The Emirates Boeing order

Back in 2017, the aviation world could barely contain its excitement when Emirates placed an order at the Dubai Airshow. This order was for no less than 50 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, worth $15.1bn. The order, at the time, took Emirates commitments with Boeing to a total of 204 aircraft.

Although the order turned out later to be non-contractual, CEO and Chairman of Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was positive about the move. At the time of the order, he said,

“Emirates’ orders today will be delivered from 2022, taking the airline well into the 2030s. Some of these will be replacements so that we maintain a young and efficient fleet, and others will power our future network growth. We see the 787 as a great complement to our 777 and A380 fleet, providing us with more flexibility to serve a range of destinations as we develop our global route network.”

However, since then Emirates have been going through some big changes in terms of fleet. They, notably, cancelled their order for A380 aircraft, switching them over to A350s instead, spelling the end of the A380 project.

Emirates A350 and A330
Emirates are relying on the A350 and the A330 for the future. Photo: Emirates

Weeks later, the airline placed a huge Airbus order for A350s and A330s, both new types of aircraft to the fleet. Previously it had only ever operated the A380 and the B777, so this was big news and a big change for Emirates.

Why did Emirates change their mind on the 787-10?

With both Emirates and Boeing remaining tight lipped on whether the order has actually been cancelled, all we can do at this stage is speculate.

When they placed the order for the 787, they hadn’t yet found the love for the A350 and A330 types. Between the two of them, they pretty much do the job of a 787, with a range  of route distances and passenger capacities catered for.

Then there’s the 777X, which Emirates has placed the largest single order for aircraft by cost for: 150 aircraft at a cost of $76bn. As long ago as February, Bloomberg were speculating that Emirates would cancel their 787 order in favor of more of the 777X jets.

Would the 787-10 have coped in Dubai? Photo: Wikimedia

According to a report by Leeham News, there may also have been an issue that rendered the 787-10 unsuitable for Emirates operations. Being a relatively high capacity but pretty short range plane, it was likely to be used more on short to mid-range, high traffic routes than to really leave the region at any distance.

The hot environment of Dubai could have proved problematic for the small engines of the 787. Because of the weight of the plane, more throttle push was added in development to ensure adequate takeoff performance. However, this means that they run hotter, and could make a hot takeoff an issue.

The reporter says that, should takeoff performance not be good enough, then the engines would require extensive and costly modifications.

Whatever the reason, it does appear that the Emirates Dreamliner order has quietly slipped off Boeing’s books. I’m sure we’ll hear more in the coming weeks and will of course keep you posted.