It has taken nearly nine years, but Boeing is delivering its 1,000th 787 Dreamliner. The aircraft, going to Singapore Airlines, made its first flight on Friday. The production milestone is a bright spot for Boeing and the wider aviation industry.
A report in Aeronews has the aircraft, a Boeing 787-10 registered as 9V-SCP, making its maiden flight on Friday 3 April. The plane was looking resplendent in Singapore Airlines’ livery. The flight took place at Boeing’s production facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Singapore Airlines is placing a lot of faith in the Dreamliner
Singapore Airlines has 15 Boeing 787-10s in its fleet. 9V-SCP will be its 16th Dreamliner. All up, the airline is expecting 49 Dreamliners over the next few years. Singapore Airlines is placing a lot of faith in the aircraft type. When the airline received its first 787-10 back in March 2018, Singapore Airlines CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong said;
“The 787-10 is indeed a magnificent piece of engineering and truly a work of art. It will be an important element in our overall growth strategy, enabling us to expand our network and strengthen our operations.”
Boeing conceived the 787 earlier this century. The reasoning was straightforward; Boeing wanted to regain market share lost to Airbus. Using the older 777 as a yardstick, Boeing wanted a plane that was both less expensive to manufacture and operate.
Boeing also picked up on an emerging trend. They foresaw the demand for more point-to-point travel using midsize planes. What Boeing came up with was the Dreamliner. They opened their order book in 2004 and ANA signed up to become the launch customer.
787 Production broke with convention
Manufacturing the Dreamliner broke with convention. Traditionally, an aircraft would be built from the ground up in one place. In the Dreamliner’s case, Boeing used sub-contractors from around the world to build components and ship them to Boeing to be put together.
That saw Boeing introduce some innovative shipping solutions like the Dreamlifters. History would show that Boeing’s shift to outsourcing raised as many problems as it solved.
Over time, three variants of the 787 Dreamliner evolved, the 787-8, 787-9, and 787-10. The 787-10, the Singapore Airlines‘ model, was the last to be developed. It came about after Qantas and Emirates talked to Boeing about developing a stretched version of the 787-9.
Singapore Airlines became the launch customer for the 787-10 when it signed up to take 30 of them at the 2013 Paris Air Show. Qantas never ordered the model, preferring the 787-9 option. Emirates later placed an order but then canceled it in 2019.
787 sells well despite some problems
The 787 program has not been without its problems, but the plane has sold well. In a short number of years, the Dreamliner has become ubiquitous at many airports around the world. While the aircraft gets mixed reviews from passengers, airlines like it. The 787 Dreamliner is relatively inexpensive to operate, has a respectable range, and opens up access to a swathe of new airports and routes.
Besides the economics of the plane, the 787 provides operating airlines with some agility and flexibility. We are now seeing the aircraft flying a whole range of repatriation flights on some unusual routes. That’s not something so easily done with say, a 747-400.
It’s this kind of flexibility that makes the 787 Dreamliner attractive to airlines like Singapore Airlines. It also suggests that for all its publicized shortcomings, we can expect Boeing to keep manufacturing the aircraft for many years to come.