Boeing Launches 787-10 As A350 Enters Flight Tests

By Jens Flottau
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

Back at 10,000 ft., an approach was simulated in full landing configuration, including a flare. Chandler and Magrin also went through a go-around procedure and decelerated down to a stall warning. While the two had built in some margin on takeoff speed, they took out that margin on landing and used brakes, reversers and spoilers as in routine operations.

The A350 performed its second flight June 19 and cleared the full envelope on a mission that lasted more than 5 hr. The aircraft climbed to 42,000 ft. and reached Mach 0.89, its maximum cruise speed, as well as its maximum angle of attack in normal law. Airbus planned to fly the aircraft over the Paris air show on June 21.

The start of the A350 flight-test program was not the only morale-booster for Airbus. The manufacturer received 466 additional orders and commitments here, 241 of which were firm. That takes the total firm orders to 758 for the year, just short of its goal of exceeding 800 in 2013. Airbus says it has been leading Boeing in the passenger widebody market over the past five years with a combined 820 orders for the A330, A350 and A380, compared to 587 for the 747-8, 767, 777 and 787.

The A380 program received a boon at the air show as well, with a memorandum of understanding for 20 aircraft from Doric Lease Corp., which plans to take delivery of them in 2016-21. These are the first A380 orders this year and, once firmed up, the Doric deal will be the largest for the program since Emirates ordered 32 units in 2010. Nevertheless, Airbus Chief Operating Officer for Customers John Leahy is not raising the target for 2013 (25 aircraft), although he concedes he might “sell a few more.”

Indeed, like Airbus itself, Doric is only betting on airlines to order the jet in significant quantities sooner or later, and it is now offering new leasing access to the aircraft. It remains to be seen if actual operators will pick up that opportunity in sufficient numbers. Leahy notes that leasing A380s through Doric will “take a lot of the risk out of the decision to order the A380. We see this is as a breakthrough in marketing the aircraft.”

Doric CEO Mark Lapidus says that “the economics [of the A380] are unbeatable” and will be “very competitive” even after the new efficient twins such as the A350 or 777X become available. There will be 400 routes viable for aircraft seating 400 or more passengers by the year 2020, he argues, partly because of scheduling and airport constraints. “We are under-ordering if anything,” he says. “There is pent-up demand for this aircraft and we felt we needed to order now.”

As Airbus moves closer to introducing the A350, Boeing is further broadening its widebody offering in the medium-large twin segment. The long-anticipated 787-10 launch comes on the heels of 102 orders from five customers. Scott Fancher, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president and general manager for airplane development, says launch of the proposed 777X is also “rapidly approaching,” perhaps by year-end. The first 787-10, the largest of the three 787 versions, is to be delivered in 2018.

Among the customers launching the program are Air Lease Corp. (30 aircraft), Singapore Airlines (30), United Airlines (20), British Airways (12) and GE Capital Aviation Services (Gecas) (10). These are all new commitments, except 10 of the 20 United aircraft, rolled over from a previous 787 order and converted into the larger version.

The 787-10 is a 18-ft. stretch of the -9, allowing room for 40 more seats; Boeing says it will accommodate 300-330 passengers and have a range of 7,000 nm. Final assembly and flight tests are both to begin in 2017, with first delivery scheduled for 2018.

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