Boeing seeks to cut production costs of 787-8 to boost sales

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 2, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing is considering production changes to the slow-selling 787-8 to lower costs and boost sales.

The effort comes at a time when global passenger traffic is at record lows and recovery of international traffic is forecast to take four or five years.

Boeing photo.

As airline traffic recovers, carriers appear to be favoring smaller aircraft in restarting suspended routes.

In recent years, Boeing discouraged sales of the 787-8 because it is a low margin airplane with high production costs. This is a legacy of the program and development difficulties from 2004-2011, when it finally entered service.

The 787-9 and 787-10 are high margin aircraft Boeing counted on to reduce the billions of dollars in deferred production and tooling costs. At one time, this exceeded $32bn.

The early program difficulties resulted in the production and parts of the -8 to be substantially different than the -9/10, which have 95% commonality. The -8 was only 30% common.

Changing the tail

In 2018, Boeing changed the -8’s tail to be virtually identical to the -9/10. The change boosted commonality to about 40%, LNA was told at the time.

Boeing this week declined to discuss the changes under consideration to the -8. But LNA’s Bjorn Fehrm, an aerospace engineer, pointed to areas that seem probable.

The key is to get as many parts of the 787-8 to be common with the 787-9 and -10 as possible. During 2019 only six 787-8s were built against 122 787-9/-10. The economics of building six parts per year versus 122 makes the 787-8 a low margin product.

Now that the priorities of the airlines, post-COVID, will move to smaller models, Boeing looks to revise the build standard of the 787-8 to share as many parts as possible with the larger models. A lot can be shared as the fundamental difference between the models is the length of a few fuselage sections.

Why hasn’t this been done already? With a production of a 787-8 every two months, the investment of revising the thousands of documents and procedures to bring the 787-8 up to the -9/-10 build standard wasn’t a wise investment. The post-COVID market changes this.

As outlined in a previous Heard On The Ramp story, several second-hand 787-8s are coming on the market as a result of COVID-19 induced bankruptcies and fleet restructurings. Whether airlines are willing to take those aircraft when traffic recovers will be an indication of interest in the smallest Dreamliner variant.

LNA understands that some enhancements to passenger experience are also being considered.

Not an NMA substitute

The changes under consideration are not intended to be a substitute for the now-suspended New Midmarket Airplane, or NMA, LNA learned.

From time to time, some suggested that Boeing should use the 787-8, or resurrect the 787-3—a cropped wing version of the 787-8—to fill the middle of the market for which the NMA was conceived.

LNA is told this is not the case. The changes aren’t intended to create a “787-8 NMA” and there won’t be a resurrection of the 787-3, which had a different wing. The 787-3 was ordered by launch customer ANA, but Boeing dropped it as the cropped wing proved inefficient following further studies.

LNA’s technical analysis also demonstrates the 787-8 makes a poor middle of the market airplane.

The 787-8 is a nine abreast dual aisle with a 56m long fuselage and 60m wingspan. Its empty weight is 120t and the maximum take-off weight is 228t. In US domestic two class seating, it carries 305 passengers—far more than the smaller NMA-6 at 225 passengers or even the larger NMA-7 at 265 passengers.

The NMA-7 is a seven abreast Y dual aisle airplane. It’s shorter, has a smaller wingspan and significantly lighter. The 788 is over 50% heavier as it’s over 50% more aircraft. As a Middle-Of-the Market competitor to the Airbus A321XLR, the 787-8 consumes substantially more fuel on a per seat mile basis.

Bjorn Fehrm and Vincent Valery contributed to this article.

121 Comments on “Boeing seeks to cut production costs of 787-8 to boost sales

  1. If Boeing decides to reduce the MTOW of the 787-8 to NMA-6 range and then design its structures much cheaper and simpler with fewer layers of Carbon fiber propreg in the same mould forms so it loses up to 10t empty mass to make a 300seat MoM Aircraft.
    The Engines would then be derated to 50k with increase of Life on-wing.
    Still you need paying customers but if Udvar Hazy likes it and can have some input to make it attractive to his cusotmers it can fill Everett again.

    • Pretty much like racing an 18 wheel Tractor at the Indy 500.

      You are going to come in dead last about 5 hours behind the finishers.

        • The lightning issue was a dispute between statistical analyses. Boeing used a reduction in the lightning classification of aircraft strike zones, based on accumulated flight experience, to reduce the protection in a small area of the wing, over the engines.

          This reclassification was based on experience that although lightning could be swept over that area, the risk of direct strike was low. Strikes tend to occur at the extremities of the aircraft, which are well protected and act as lightning rods.

          The embedded copper mesh was removed in that area, making it similar to the rest of the wing. Without the embedded mesh, the mesh-insulating spacers on fasteners were also not required.

          Some engineers in the FAA objected, saying their models still showed a statistical risk of fuel tank ignition from lightning, even after the reclassification. Boeing disagreed, as their models showed there was enough protection provided by the composite material and other tank lightning protection measures, including tank inerting.

          So Dickson ordered a study to reconcile the two models. That was in December and we have not heard anything, so my guess would be it’s been internally resolved. There has not been a fine assessed to Boeing for not notifying the FAA of their action, or an order for them to install the mesh & spacers. Those could be still forthcoming but it becomes less likely with time.

          Dickson testified to Congress that he believes there is not an unsafe condition, and has not backed away from those statements. So that is what I go by, until there is more information.

          My take on the conflict is that FAA engineers became upset when Boeing used the argument that they had already made the changes. Their upset was valid, it should be based on the science, not on convenience. So they pushed back on that, but ultimately the science is what must resolve the issue.

          Also I think they see that Dickson is not bullied by Boeing or Congress, he tries to resolve things with methodology. So there is less fear within FAA that they won’t be heard or will be overruled. That’s as it should be.

          • Dont’t understand how 787 Lightning protection have to do with reduced number of CFRP layers for a much lower MTOW 787?
            USAF most likely have testing facities for this and can zap testpieces mounted on boxes replicating conditions in a 787 fuel tank pretty well and you increase the strength of the Lightning until it says boom and compare to certification requirements. Carbon fiber is not that great of a conductor so you will get burn marks and need a pile of testpanels for you trails.

          • Sorry if the lightning issue hijacked your topic. It was important to respond to the implication that was made.

            As far as the response to your CFRP idea, that seemed opinion-based as well. I don’t know how feasible or practical the idea might be. Do you know of an example where an existing airframe was structurally modified in that way to lower weight?

            As far as testing, lightning is a random event for which the behavior varies highly with local conditions. You can’t test for all the eventualities.. So statistical methods are used, that consider the multiple layers of protection, as well as the failure of one or more layers.

            This is also why the FAA specified the MAX wiring change as a non-compliance issue, rather than an unsafe condition (a similar difference in statistical methodology). If they do rule on the 787 lightning issue, we might see something along those lines.

          • @Rob, today with 3D formed Tools and ATL Machines placing CFRP tapes onto the tool you can decide how many layers you need to place in the tool to get the correct strength before it is bagged and sent to the autoclave. Normallay you “tape” symmetrically around the middle layer to minimize distortion at cooling after baking. So if you have less loads you could reduce the number of layers you build the structure from with consideration of baked in titanium fasterners requirements (that should Contact the titanium mesh-net in layer 2 from the outside to conduct electricity along the wing). Regarding electrical arc “Blitz” into Composite wings with Ti fasteners (that often get zapped) and on into the baked in metal mesh it is hard to calculate how much of the energy hitting the Ti rivet goes into the carbon and how strong arc you get into the Nitogen gas purged fuel tank with JET A fumes. If you cannot test and cannot prove otherwise you need the metal mesh. Sill I think testing is doable to satisfy the FAA.

          • Rob,

            I get that, but also I see why the FAA engineers were upset. It looks like BA decided that their research showed it was safe to remove the protection, and they went ahead without regulatory approval (easier to get forgiveness than permission).

            This speaks to the relationship between BA, and the FAA. The FAA is supposed to regulate, but it appears that BA don’t seem to respect that. The proper path should have been to prove to the FAA that it was safe, for the FAA to agree, and then to allow the changes.

            If the case was strong enough, there should have been no problem. I understand underfunding of the FAA, and BA may not have felt that they would have an expedited decision but I don’t agree with any airframer deciding that they don’t need regulatory approval, and building airplanes with un-regulated changes.

            Is there anything else that BA have changed, and not run past the FAA I wonder ?

            In this case, I really hope that BA research is correct, we’re talking about peoples lives, I don’t want to wake up to a headline that a 787 has crashed due to a lightning strike that would have been prevented under the regulated scheme.

            BA just can’t afford any more mistakes. I wish they’d just get back to making quality airplanes.

          • Also for the record, Boeing did not reclassify the engine panel lightning zone to a lower value. SAE did that after conducting an independent study. Boeing responded to that change by making the engine panel the same as the rest of the wing, since they now are in the same zone.

          • Rob:

            As usual, you ignore the fact that Boeing took an action that was illegal.

            No pandering is going to change that, there is a process, Boeing is fully aware of it and no difference than committing a bank robbery.

            Its felony plane and simple.

            Also nothing new. Fully in keeping with MAX, the Space thingy, FOD in KC46 and MAX fuel tanks.

          • TW, as usual these are your personal beliefs, based on your negative opinion of Boeing, but there is no evidence to support them. No statement by the FAA to this effect. No criminal action or violation identified. But there is sworn testimony from the FAA director to Congress, to the contrary.

            I have no doubt that in your mind, your beliefs are sufficient to make these kinds of claims. But in the real world, they are not justification.

            If the FAA announces that they have concluded this after investigation, with evidence, I will believe it and support their decision. But right now, I see no evidence of it.

          • @Rob

            I see that you don’t hear yourself by your bias. I totally agree with @TransWorld – it was a crime – far more obvious & far more serious then dieselgate of VW. Boeing has strong back in US politics, so no criminal charges, for now. Same as no criminal charges for MAX. Will see after new elections, I hope for a change in this matter.

          • Pablo, the issue is that you and TW are not judge, jury, and executioner. The legal process looks at the available evidence. I am not biased about that evidence, or it being brought to bear against Boeing. But in the absence of evidence, or even a formal allegation, Boeing should not be condemned.

            If you and TW have evidence that would support your personal allegations, you should by all means make it available to the FAA. But if it’s only your opinion, then you should let the process play out before forming your conclusion.

          • “”Pablo, the issue is that you and TW are not judge, jury, and executioner””

            We all judge … We won’t fly MAX

            and I won’t fly 787 too, it’s a self-certified Frankenstein.

            I would fly 767, 717 and 777, but not 10-abreast.
            I spend so much time here, I would happily pay more to support Airbus airlines, or Embraer.
            Imagine you fly MAX and they start the yo-yo, or one pilot walks to the lavatory and the other is alone with the trim wheel, as TW said, not on a rotten fish barge …

          • Judging for yourself and forming your own opinion is fine. I would encourage you to not fly if you don’t feel it’s safe.

            The issue arises when you make the representation to others of your opinion as fact, when the facts are actually otherwise. The MAX will be certified as safe, and that will be done by establishing a factual basis for safety.

            You can personally dissent if you choose, but that will not alter the facts. You can choose not to accept the facts or the established basis of safety. You do no harm to others with those choices.

            But it becomes a different story when you discredit the facts, or the established basis of reasoning, or the people or agencies involved, without factual evidence of your own. Then you are harming others.

          • “”The MAX will be certified as safe, and that will be done by establishing a factual basis for safety””

            Some facts:
            After JT610, Boeing provided a stupid bulletin. FAA copied it 99.9% without looking deeper. If copying is all what is needed the koma FAA is not needed.
            Around December 2018, FAA calculated 15 more crashes but the MAX was too safe to be grounded, must be koma.
            April 2019, Muilenburg said “We Own Safety”, I wonder what he meant because we all know now it could not be the MAX.
            February 2020, Calhoun’s soldiers pressured, harassed and threatened ODA engineers again, seems nothing has changed.
            July 2020, FAA base their evaluation on simulator data which was provided by Calhoun’s soldiers who faked the Ethiopian sim before. Why even do fight testing when it can be done with a faked sim.
            Maybe that’s why FAA checked the trim wheel on the ground … why … the maximum allowed forces should not be higher than 10 pounds and Boeing is asking both pilots to turn the wheel.
            Today there are still hundreds of MAX jedi mind tricked self-certifications which were never checked because FAA is still in koma only want to check parts which have to do with the crashes, waiting for another crash to be forced to check other self-certifications.
            It’s a criminal corrupt system

          • As I pointed out, these are your opinions. which you present as facts. You can believe what you wish, as others here also do, but the certification will move forward on the facts, not on opinion.

            However I will drop this now, as Scott has been clear that he doesn’t want us fighting here.

        • JakDak, I agree and as you well know, have made that same point about Boeing many times here. The forgiveness vs permission issue has been a pattern and a recurring problem, and Boeing has been fined for it before.

          If Boeing acted here without needed FAA permission, they will be fined again. That has not happened as of yet, which I believe may imply that it was within Boeing’s purview to make those design changes, but FAA initially objected when notified.

          That would be consistent with Dickson’s stance on this issue before Congress. He stated that after reviewing Boeing’s appeal, the changes were approved by FAA senior managers who are qualified safety experts, and the FAA position is that there is not an unsafe condition, or a violation by Boeing who properly notified FAA.

          But some engineers at FAA dissented and wrote a letter to Congress, accusing the managers of bowing to Boeing pressure. That triggered a joint review of wing changes since original certification, by Boeing and FAA.

          We will see what ultimately comes of this. At present there is no accusation or implication of wrongdoing from the FAA.

          • Rob, I agree, we’ll have to keep an eye out to see if the joint review is ever published.

            What is a problem, is that a business may well feel that even if they are caught, and fined, the amount of money they save by making a change far outweighs the fine.

            This happens all over the world in many varied businesses, fines imposed by regulators just aren’t a deterrent.

            If you have a regulatory process at all, it should regulate effectively, if it doesn’t in a safety critical industry, that’s a big problem.

            In a way, the lack of an effective deterrent enables a culture of getting away with whatever a business can.

            If in the aerospace sector, a manufacturer circumvents a regulatory body with a change to a safety critical component, apart from a fine, a ban, or grounding of that component would be a far bigger deterrent.

            I understand that there may be issues with regulatory bodies, but they are there for a reason, they need to be impartial, non political, and efficient, but they need to regulate, they need “Teeth”.

            I do wonder if Airbus had done something similar, would EASA have caught it, and just how much latitude does EASA allow airframers ?

          • A last thought about lightning, and regulators:

            Regulators need to keep up with the latest developments, back in 2014 a 787-8 was struck by lightning just out of LHR on it’s way to IAH taking out 3 of the PDUs. The aircraft returned safely to LHR.

            What came out of this was that lightning tests at that time didn’t specify testing for rapid transient radiated electric fields.

            I wonder if this element has now been added to testing ?

            I wonder how many of the regulations related to lightning have been modified to take the construction of Carbon Fibre aircraft such as the 787, and A350 into account.

            Information for anyone interested:

          • JakDak, on the 787-8 lightning strike event, the NTSB found that when subjected to a mil-spec event with a rapid transient electric field strength of 1MV/microsecond, the display units detected the induced voltage spike as a power supply fault, and shut down. That is an enormously large transient, but it did no permanent damage. It was addressed by a power reset.

            The certification requirements for commercial aircraft do not require them to meet the mil-spec. The aircraft was found to be fully compliant and the lightning protection systems all functioned as expected. The FAA could adopt the mil-spec if it chooses. That is recommended in the article.

            As a result of this event, the display management software was changed to automatically perform a power reset after a power supply fault is detected. Also a checklist was created for display blanking so pilots could also do a manual reset, and all operators were notified.

            Lastly with regard to the comment as to whether EASA would have caught the Boeing changes, Boeing reported their changes, were not caught. That is part of the misinformation surrounding the event. Note that in this case there is not even an allegation of wrongdoing from FAA.

            When there is a constant implication that Boeing has done something wrong, that reverberates around the press until it finally fades away from lack of evidence, but the damage by that time is done.

            People have implied, here and elsewhere, that the MAX is inherently unstable in flight. That has been thoroughly debunked, but if you read the comments for the proposed RTS AD, that claim is still being made by many angry people.

            If the allegation was true, their anger would be justified. But given the option of learning about the truth or holding on to their anger, they choose the anger.

            The FAA will ignore those comments as non-substantive, but when they do, the claim will be similar to yours here, the FAA is ineffective, lacks teeth and can’t/won’t do their job. That too will be unfounded, but again it won’t matter.

            I suspect that same sequence will be followed for the lightning issue. It will fade away without evidence, but the impression will linger that Boeing pulled something and got away with it because the FAA allowed it.

            This points up the need to base things on evidence. If wrongdoing is found, it should be pursued and consequences brought to bear. But the wrongdoing should not be assumed without evidence. There is a reason the justice system presumes innocence.

          • Rob,

            A few things;

            When I ask if EASA would have caught a similar issue with Airbus, I wasn’t implying that the airframers had done anything wrong, I meant would EASA have identified (caught) the issue, and does EASA look at these kind of issues in a pro-active way, rather than waiting for an airframer to notify them of changes. I.e. I think the FAA, and perhaps EASA may not have the resources (budget, staff etc.) to be as up to date with developments in the aerospace field as the airframers.

            Patrick Ky’s statement “This would not happen in our system,” he insisted. “Everything which is safety-critical, everything which is innovative … has to be seen by us and not delegated.” interests me.

            Would EASA keep up with developments in lightning zone designation, would they be unsurprised if Airbus were to notify them that they wanted to change lightning protection on the A350 ?

            Would or have Airbus ever changed something based on research without at least notifying EASA before building aircraft with changes incorporated ?

            Regarding the 787-8 lightning strike event, what I was asking was have the regulators modified their regulations as a result of events such as the 787-8 lightning strike. True when they tested a mil-spec event, they got a result similar to the actual event.

            I wasn’t suggesting that BA had done anything wrong, the link makes it clear that the aircraft was fully compliant. But a real event happened, the aircraft was able to return to LHR safely, and as you say changes were made to mitigate a repeat event.

            The point was more about current regulations, have we learnt from that event, has the A350 been tested in a similar way to see if any of their procedures need to be amended. Are new carbon fibre aircraft being tested in the same way as older aluminium aircraft, or have the tests, and regulations changed to keep up with the shift to carbon fibre?

            I too have looked at some of the comments on the proposed RTS AD, most of those I read were laughable, and they will be rightly disregarded. I only saw one comment that looked like it might be worth time looking at.

            The reason that I say regulators ‘lack teeth’ is because of the perception by the businesses being regulated, that they can pretty much dictate what they do as the fines are not a deterrence.

            This was not aimed at the FAA, this is a general statement, “This happens all over the world in many varied businesses, fines imposed by regulators just aren’t a deterrent.”

            Regulators are often seen as an obstacle to a business, and regulatory fines/penalties are sometimes assigned a value in the business case.

            To me that’s an issue with the regulator, if they are required, they need to be relevant, and they need to not be circumvented, hence the need for an effective set of ‘teeth’.

            I’m only concerned with safety, and I consider politics, and nationalistic issues detrimental to safety in some cases.

            I’ve said before, I’d like to see a completely independent multinational agency responsible for aircraft regulation, and certification. I don’t see the sense in the FAA certifying an aircraft, then Canada, Europe, Brazil, and China all re-certifying the same aircraft. Each of these with slightly different regulations or standards.

            I’d like the budget from all of these current agencies pooled, and the best people from each agency recruited to the one body. I’d like one standard for certification of aircraft. I’d like the new agency to be able to keep up with all of the latest research, and I’d like it to regulate effectively.

            It will never happen, due to politics, and nationalism.

          • “”I too have looked at some of the comments on the proposed RTS AD, most of those I read were laughable, and they will be rightly disregarded. I only saw one comment that looked like it might be worth time looking at.””

            I only read some comments too, less than 20, many are indeed wasted time, but many are about the manual trim wheel which I think is valid.

            The whole system is a joke too. There are options to choose the order, if you choose “newer – older” you get a random date order.

            It’s wasted time to post comments because FAA didn’t check all Boeing self-certifications till now when Boeing’s MO was still to pressure, harass and THREATEN certifying engineers in late Bebruary 2020.
            If FAA assume that Boeing self-certifications were made without threatening certifying engineers then they are a joke.
            Why post a comment if FAA won’t care.
            FAA calculated 15 more crashes and did nothing too.

            There is a reason for MCAS. If FAA can’t find the reason with flight testing without MCAS then FAA is useless.
            Transport Canada did flight testing too and we hear nothing.
            Who expect EASA want to find something this week.
            There was already a deal made between them and Transport Canada and EASA are only flying, not testing, to keep other regulators at bay.

            Boeing test pilots must be super humans to find reasons that MCAS is needed and regulator pilots can’t find them.

          • JakDak, thanks for the clarification. I agree with most of your points.

            Patrick Ky’s statement was based on the assumption that FAA didn’t look carefully at MCAS. But we know now that wasn’t the case. In fact the version of MCAS they looked at was handled correctly, but alterations were made during flight testing that were not communicated properly, either within FAA or Boeing. That is no less of a problem, but it is a different problem. Perhaps it would not have occurred at EASA or Airbus.

            As far as manufacturer relationship to regulator, I think that is a matter of culture. If Boeing sees the FAA as a partner in safety, they can work together without being adversarial. If the FAA is viewed as inferior or as an impediment, then there is a problem.

            I think at Boeing, there was (and remains) stratification of views on this, which again is a culture problem. There were elements of perception that Boeing knew better, and could do better, than FAA, even with safety. In that there was a loss of perception that the FAA contributes simply by the act of observing from a different perspective.

            I saw this in my own career, with OSHA as the regulator. The companies who thought they knew better and defied or worked around OSHA, ended up worse off than those who accepted OSHA as a benefit. Compliance produced improved work environments, happier workers, and far fewer injuries.

            On the mil-specs, it helps to understand that some of that is meant to add resistance to EMP. That’s why the transients are so much greater than commercial airline standards. It’s possible for lightning to generate an EMP-like transient, and obviously something like that happened in the 787 incident.

            As to whether that means we should implement the mil-spec as a new standard, I don’t know. I think the behavior of lightning with composite aircraft is well understood, so it depends on where you choose to draw the line. Notably, the displays were affected most because of their open surface area. Other fully-shielded equipment was not impacted.

        • Thanks. Not new, of concern for fatigue life I presume (not knowing much about FRP construction), in addition to not meeting the no-damage requirement of limit loading.

          Bashers of Boeing and Charleston will be flapping about this case.

  2. Hello Scott

    The 787-8 is a 227t bird (maxed out)
    The 787-9 / -10 are 250+ t birds

    The wing box section is, if i recall the famous airbus leak on the 787, a totally different one
    I guess the same for the wings

    Can the 787-8 be redevelopped as a shrink of the 787-9 ?

    Best regards

    • The Wingbox section was fixed (mandatory, no way around it) before the -9 joined the family. Early frames got the titan crutches around the “sideofbodyjoin” later ones had an integral fix.
      But the -9 presents the Mk2 version with a very wide range of fixes ( design basics but also manufacturability.)
      Result is a major lack of commonality between the -8 and -9/-10.

    • @Crise:

      Can the 787-8 be redevelopped as a shrink of the 787-9 ?

      Yes, it can. The 737-7 was redeveloped as a shrink of the 737-8 before production began in part for the same production reasons.

        • Yes, making it shorter is a cheap and fast development and offers commonality which cut costs even more, but it won’t be much cheaper than the 787-9, it makes the whole family cheaper.

          It has disadvantages too, higher OEW, higher MTOW which is mostly not needed and because of that powerful engines are needed too. Sure engines can be degraded but that helps only little bit.

          This is what the A330-800 is.
          Kuweit will use it with 226 seats which will increase the range even more to 8500nm.
          If you want range it’s perfect.

          I would like to see which planes are used by airlines for long trips.
          If many seats are unsold they would better use an A330-800. Good for airlines which use hubs like Emirates.

          • The increasing 787-8 commonality was news back in 2018

            Even the reasons back then have been recycled for now –
            “Does the investment mean Boeing is breathing new life into the 787-8, supporting sales of this model that had all but been abandoned?
            It would seem so.”

            Im reading between the lines and assuming even more commonality back in 2018 was put on the backburner to support the launch of the 797….
            as they say deja vue all over again.

          • You are right. If smaller planes are needed and if range is needed, the A330-800 will come on top of most of the widebodies. The A330 is also a more established and reliable platform compared to the 787.

          • More thrust is attractive for runway performance including second segment climb which is often limiting on twins.

            Lower MTOW may help lengthen fatigue life, I have no idea what the 787’s is but know that Boeing assured me the 767 was sufficient for PW’s needs.

            (When it was planned to deploy it on the Calgary-Edmonton shuttle, though also on long flights. In the 70s PW’s 737 fleet average was 30 minutes leg length, besides the shuttle which was about that IIRC there were the milk runs, one went from Vancouver BC through central BC to NE BC then to Edmonton Industrial and sometimes a hop to Edmonton International. Plus Vancouver-Victoria sometimes. I used to kid pilots that they could shut engines off on a ballistic trajectory.)

            Aloha’s average was 20 minutes IIRC, island hopping, I don’t recall what Southwest’s was.

            Fatigue did occur, inspections were ongoing but Aloha had a problem, but it looked to me as though corrosion was the final straw for old 737s, judging by the appearance of the fuselage of one of PW’s first 737s sitting near the river waiting to be barged to the Nanaimo-Comox area to be sunk for divers to play with.

  3. This is really going to be amusing (and concurrently terrifying): the 787 already has multiple quality issues…and now Boeing wants to cut production costs on the 787-8? That doesn’t bode well!
    Were there any other recent programs in which Boeing tried to keep costs down? Oh yeah…now I remember… the MAX!

    • Getting away from the “two families one product” thing is a Good Thing(TM). it should improve on cost with no impact on quality. ( in theory )
      Expect some overachieving paper shuffler to botch that :-))
      All the KISS product upgrades Boeing initiated seem to have developed some cancerous growth.

      • Bryce:

        You don’t get it.

        We are not talking cheap, its commonality. In fact probably increase the quality as they are not one offs for the current -8.

        • Transworld:

          Actually, I do get it.
          We’re not talking commonality for the same of commonality…we’re talking commonality for the sake of cost reduction: it couldn’t be clearer for you, because Scott has put it right there in the opening sentence for you:
          “Boeing is considering production changes to the slow-selling 787-8 to lower costs and boost sales”.

          So, it’s a good old-fashioned cost-cutting drive…and we all know Boeing’s miserable record in that regard.

          • No disagreement on what Boeing might do.

            I do like to be clear on actual vs possible.

            In this case I don’t see it as cost cutting as actually more efficient that saves money.

            I have full faith that money goes into Calhoun’s hands and not back into Boeing.

            Move to Charleston would seem to make sense unless you know the history.

            In this case, it puts costs into Everett so its not a true comparison.

            Also clearly Boeing is hell bent on moving out of Washington State so its in line with them doing that.

            While I doubt Boeing will ever do another aircraft, if they do it will be somewhere other than Washington State and cost the taxpayers of the lucky state a lot of money.

            For Boeing its not what we can do for our country, but what we can rip out of the country.

            Next up is how badly they hose up the T-7

          • Fallout ( positive, negative ) from a decision is not limited to the scope of “why it was done”.

            i.e. even if the reason is cost cutting reducing the parts universe is/can be a good thing(TM).

            Though I do concede that this kind of fallout has a large bulge on the negative “unintended consequences” side of things. And Boeing has a thing for wading into it.

  4. The move to redesign 787-8 for commonality makes sense for the reasons Scott gave. This will be a good thing for Boeing and allows for a larger margin for the expected market shift toward the smaller version.

    The discussion of an NMA substitute is neither here nor there, since Boeing has never put that idea or reasoning forward. There is no NMA at present, beyond the concepts being considered. Boeing is fixed on the aircraft they have until they decide to move forward on the new reality of the market, whatever that comes out to be. There will need to be some business recovery and steadying of the market before that happens.

    • Great point. As the Danish saying goes, making predictions is hard, especially about the future, and the shape of the travel market in 10 years seems particularly unknowable right now.

      So not a good time to place major bets.

      • Actually its the best time to place major bets

        Desault is continuing its new Biz Jet and a new one.

        Paraphrasing, we need to have product after the recovery and the future needs product as well. So they are putting lots of money into research.

        Boeing management is the loot and pillage model, I don’t ever expect to see a new aircraft out of the current organization.

        • The business case for Dassault is very different than Boeing. The 6X model is a derivative of the 5X and has been in development for many years, now is nearly complete. It would be foolish to abandon that investment now. Just as Boeing will not abandon the 777X.

          The required investment for a commercial airliner, in both time and funding, is much larger. Also the business jet market has been suppressed by COVID, but is expected to recover much faster than commercial air travel. It doesn’t face the same perception of mass travel risk.

          Boeing is being prudent by waiting for the market to settle and maximizing their existing fleet. That fleet is certainly not optimal for the current conditions, but you make the best of what you have. That is what they’re doing here.

          • Rob:


            For Boeing its Never The Time. Before we had to buy back shares and pay dividends (even with a huge loss we will borrow 13 billion for dividend not a dime to product)

            Desault is working on a 7X, no just the delayed 5/6X.

            As noted, Boeing has turned into just another sheep in the heard of corporate sheep . Just Bahhhhhinbg to the same old tune.

            I will take a Guard Dog like Desault any day of the week.

          • Dassault 7X and derivative 8X are already in service. The facts of my statement stand. You offer no opposing facts or arguments so I presume this is your opinion again.

  5. Any news with those handful of 787 grounded by Boeing for manufacturing defects.

  6. True. Although sometimes I do wonder how efficient will a GTF powered 787 be. Most of the GTF problems are resolved and Pratt probably has more knowledge and new tech to squeeze more out of it.

    • You might see the RR Ultrafan on the 787-10 first before Boeing lets another big P&W Engine to be installed on their aircrafts again.
      RR is a bit uneven performance, sometimes they hit jackpot like the T-XWB other times they keep struggling like RB-211H for the 767.
      PWA is more even with massive problems during the first +2-3 years before SB 72-450 is issued and it works as advertised.

      • claes:

        Keep in mind the XWB also has a basis in the Trent 1000/Ten/7000. It took 5 years for the bigger issues past the blade erosion to show up.

        The 900+ has major issues.

        In the meantime P&W knows its GTF issues, has fixed or is fixing them, has learned. They are cranking out successful F-35 engines.

        GE had issues on the 777X, took a year to fix a fiddly linkage problem?

        Clearly P&W is more vested and capable than RR and is as good or better than GE.

        • It varies over time who of the big 3 Engine makers having the most troubles and how quickly they solve them.
          PWA is used to getting into deep troubles at service introductions and most of the time crawl up to acceptable performance, the TF-30 is a question mark. The F-135 Engine also had its issues but most of them were solved on the F-119 I suspect. RR is uneven and also work to resolve issues but sometimes copy old PWA design misstakes 10 years later. GE is harder to classify as the CFM56/CF34/F-110 series been so reliable and successful but they have CF6 and GE90 issues.
          GEAE having a “MBA as boss” can cause major culture clashes.

  7. Airlines should sell used 787-8 because values of 5 year olds seem high and then decide how to replace it.

    How high is the fuel consumption per seat mile for the 787-8?

  8. If the (much cheaper) A330-800 hasn’t sold very well, what makes Boeing think that the B787-8 is suddenly going to have a change of fortune?

    • Boeing has taken wins against the A330NEO.

      Given both B and A have made stupid predictions.

      In this case Airbus assumed Boeing would not cut margins and they did. Big surprise. The more you make the more overall your costs go down.

      That in turn belies the nonsense of all ready paid for tooling (if that was true the 767 would still be in high production.)

      It means you can’t assess on just one aspect, its a system as a whole that counts.

      • Let’s say it this way: Boeing has taken huge action against the A330neo, offering potential A330neo customers extremly low B787 prices.

        The B789 is a little better (than a A339), but the difference is said to be below 4% at best in CASM.
        Technically, the A330neo should sell better.

        But Boeing is dumping it out.

        The B789 is a great airplane, suitable for many airlines, and it will always have better economics than the -8.
        So if you redesign the -8 as a shrink, you won’t gain anything but having an airplane that is the unwanted ugly little sister of the top model. I don’t think there’s much Boeing can do.

        I also want to point out, fleet plans are made 20+ years, just because a crisis is demanding smaller WBs doesn’t mean it will be in the next years.

  9. An effort to standardize the 787 seems a reasonable plan. As Scott mention the -8 has a troubled development background, translating in limited economies of scale, special requirements and MRO procedures and restricted capabilities.

    Market requirements changed, the -8 based more on the -9 would be a capable aircraft. Maybe even a bit over capable (for e.g. NMA). It would gain a few tons OEW, but it would be able to do a lot of cargo long haul, next to 250 passengers. And that’s worth something too post Covid-19. It’s what made the A332 successful 20 yrs ago (and triggered the 787..)

    • I never did get it. Commonality move would have benefited the whole program with reduced costs all along.

      As Leon noted, just make a shorter -9.

      Weird stuff Maynard

      Too busy raking in the bucks and designing (gives a bad name to design) bad software ala MAX and the Space thingy.

  10. Transfering FAL to Charleston seems much easier way to save money
    Overhead costs are very high per unit produced
    this statment from Boeing is just a soft way to explain why one FAL is enough

    for once Boeing management looks wise :=))

    • We obviously are talking about two different aspects.

      Ergo, miss the first part, get lost in the second.

      You can do both by the way.

  11. 30-40% commonality? for a new designed modern aircraft in the same family? Very, very bad, and points out how inadequate a design process of 787 was. It’s a time for Boeing to change it rapidly. Now family is -9 & -10 but not -8, now -8 is a cuckoo.

    In addition, 787 quality issues doesn’t seem to have an end.

    • Pablo:

      Actually given it was a totally new tech, I have no issues with them having learned , figured it out and adjusted. Of course that was the old Boeing.

      What stuns me is per what Leon said and I thought some time back, make it shorter -9 and you are common.

      Stunning it was not done sooner. I can only assume the poor management just cold not muster the brain power to do so as they were focused on their Golden shares.

      • Believe Boeing was (or might still be) under contract with certain Italian parts maker (and possibly others) for the 8 that they could not easily get rid off, hence stuck with it for a while. If that had run its course, then they could make a new shorter 9.

        • Oscar:

          Does not matter. Those same Italian parts makers changed for the -9.

          No reason you could not have done the same for the -8.

          Granted I have to be missing something, but as Leon noted, at worst you wind up with a bit heavier bird but better costs throughout the program.

          Boeing clearly not has only a thin Management bench but in many places no bench or competency and at best might (maybe) do one program right and the rest run off the rails.

          Maybe the talent is with the T-7 right now. We can hope there is some talent. Maybe SAAB is doing all the work if we are lucky.

  12. Bummer we can’t hear more about what “enhancements to [the] passenger experience are under consideration”?!?!

    …it’s almost like the kind of tease that hurts so bad! 🤣

    “FOR REALS”?!?! Someone at Boeing is finally hearing the pleas of flyers who hate & loathe being trapped in waaaayy too small & narrow seats for 5-18 hours long flights!?!?!

    Has that fiery Biblical dungeon finally frozen over?

    Or am I hallucinating?

    Because FOR SURE if ever there was a plane in *DESPERATE NEED* of improving PaxEx for the vast majority of flyers who find themselves shoehorned into horrible, teeny, tiny, waaaaayyy too small & narrow 17” wide seats, densely packed 9-abreast 31” pitch rows, it’s the 787 ‘Nightmareliner’.

    And that’s before any discussion of aisles so ridiculously narrow that no matter how much I tried to avoid kicking others’ outstretched feet, shins or calves; crashing into hands & arms dangling over armrests; or smacking into an occasional shoulder, even a few heads (yes, even heads!) that were leaning into the aisle – and from BOTH sides of the aisle, at that – despite making every effort, even after pivoting & shimmying sideways on my first pair of 11 hour 787 sold out red-eyes LHR-JNB-LHR, it was still IMPOSSIBLE to traverse those hideous & preposterously narrow aisles that became a treacherous obstacle course shortly after dinner trays were cleared until the cabin lights came on for pre-arrival breakfast without either tripping over and/or waking others after kicking them or bumping into them on those times when I got up to stretch my legs (as 1 should always do every so often on long haul flights to reduce risk of DVT) or of course, for calls of nature to the loo.

    After that pair of dangerous & unpleasant experiences aboard 787-9s where the flight attendants used flashlights to better negotiate the onboard obstacle course cluttered by limbs, torsos & heads clogging the aisles, I took my cue from them and now tuck a small flashlight into my carry on bag, too!

    Alas, even with the small flashlight, when I next took even longer (15-16 hours) flights aboard the 787s equally horrible evil sibling, aka a pair of 10-abreast, 3-4-3 “densified” 777s JFK-TPE-JFK, while the number of limbs kicked or crashed into were fewer than (literally) feeling my way thru darkened cabins was on the JNB 787s, and no heads were smacked into (or elbowed) with a flashlight illuminating the way up/down those super skinny aisles, the fact remains that even with the benefit of illumination, and even after making every effort to avoid any contact with other pax by moving along as carefully and deliberately as possible by turning/pivoting sideways & shimmying to make myself as “thin”/“flat” as possible, it still was impossible to avoid kicking or crashing into the many outstretched/dangling feet, legs, hands, arms & an occasional torso that was listing/leaning into the aisle on those flights, too.

    And at 5’8” W33-34 L32 Levi’s jean size, the aisles shouldn’t require turning sideways/pivoting & shimmying to move about the cabin while inflight.

    It just shouldn’t.

    Or at least it didn’t until the last few years – and did/do NOT aboard the many Airbus A330s & A340s widebodies I ALWAYS choose to fly whenever there’s an opportunity to completely avoid Boeing’s hideous & awful “densified” 9-abreast 787s or it’s equally horrible 10-abreast 777s.

    So, as noted above, **FOR SURE** any REAL enhancement to the ECONOMY/MAIN CABIN passenger experience for Boeing’s hideous “densified” widebody 787s (and 777s – don’t forget how awesome those planes are at 9-abreast vs how **FLAT OUT AWFUL** they become at 10-abreast!) if Boeing is being serious about this, will be welcome news!!!

    Too bad we’re stuck sitting on pins & needles wondering if the era of those horrible & borderline sadistic torture tubes is finally nearing its long overdue end…or of this is just a fake out & tease?!?! 😉🤣

    Guess we’ll just have to wait & see…

    • @Howard: Let’s remember, it’s the airlines that jammed nine abreast in the 787 coach. Boeing designed the cabin for eight abreast.

      • Yes, airlines decide, but B makes it easy by applying crossection width of 8,5 or 9,5 abreast. It’s very appealing to accounting part of airlines brain, and paxex suffers much – standard A220 has better seats then B787.

          • B787 in 8 abreast shall have better width then 18-19″ of A220 and better pitch then 31″, isn’t it?

            Problem is that B787 is 8,5 abreast… so in the eyes of an airline is just like 9.

          • Pablo:

            I get the issue but the question really is should Boeing design an aircraft narrow enough you can’t put in another seat?

            Or is it an airline issue that they do?

            Boeing business (well it used to be – now its to jack up execs salary) was to sell aircraft, What airlines did with the interior was up to them.

            I would have thought most airlines would go with the 8 not 9, boy was I wrong, good news is I no longer travel international and I don’t expect to ever again.

            I never thought I would see airline travel as a race to the bottom but there it is.

            I can see Boeing designing the 787 with 9 as some were going to use 9 all along (Ethiopian).

            Coin flip, I don’t blame Boeing nearly as much as the airlines.

            Just cause the Ducati can do 140 does not mean you should do 140.

          • The 767 had a good cabin width, but then a virus spread, Boeingitis …

          • @TransWorld

            Not at all – I think I wrote it somewhere here – from selling point of view 8,5 abreast of 787 is quite brilliant, well… as far as people with a time would like still to fly 787 in 9 abreast.

      • Scott, one could also argue that, at 8-abreast, the seat mile costs would be (very) uncompetitive…thereby effectively “forcing” airlines to go for 9-abreast.
        In the case of the A350, VERY few specimens are configured with 10-abreast seating…and they all belong to budget carriers. So, for the A350, the seat mile costs for 9-abreast are evidently attractive enough.

      • Hi @Scott,

        So, if seat widths & 9-abreast 787s remains unchanged, how exactly is the 787 passenger experience going to be “enhanced” since Premium Eco & biz class cabins are NOT where the aircraft falls short, whereas the economy/Main Cabin – especially navigating those exceptionally narrow, body parts, cluttered aisles (as noted in original comments above) does fall desperately short!

        Also, while neither particularly tall nor “fluffy,” either something is “wrong” with me, or perhaps, maybe others are not exactly being completely honest, because on those occasions when avoiding aircraft that have 17-17.2” wide economy/Main Cabin seats isn’t possible, and I find myself aboard a CRJ or Boeing 737s/757s instead of 18” wide seats on most Airbus models, I know there’s a meaningful difference in comfort, with the CRJs being especially undesirable, and the Boeing narrowbodies tolerable only if in an aisle seat.

        For example, late October last year, because it offered the best departure & arrival times, but was aboard one of Delta’s wonky configured 757s where Comfort+ was split in 2 sections fore & aft door L2, with the lavatory adjacent/fore to door R2 (immediately behind the D/E/F seat triple; across the aisle from the A/B/C triple; with the weird, floating D/E duo/pair near door R2 – aka its “75D” configuration), I selected seat 16A by the window for what was supposed to be 4.5 hours flight from Mexico City to JFK that ended up being closer to 6.5 hours stuck in that 17.2” wide window seat between the thunderstorm just after boarding & a cold front with high winds at JFK that resulted in an “old school” holding pattern circling repeatedly just off the coast of Atlantic City, NJ for about 75 mins before finally being cleared to land.

        And while the 34” Comfort+ row pitch for my 5’8” height was more than adequate for that flight, what was problematic was the fact that except when I made a deliberate effort to lean against the left sidewall so the person in middle “B” seat had sufficient personal space, we otherwise were literally pressing bare flesh (both of us wearing short sleeved shirts) against each other since the width of my upper arms (>19”) exceeds the width of the seat, and as such, I was “spilling over” into the personal space of the petite female next to me.

        We briefly discussed our “flesh pressing” & laughed it off – but we both agreed the seats were too narrow to begin width despite both of us being moderately sized compared to others around us or on past flights – where we also agreed that after 3-3.5 it increasingly became unpleasant being confined to such small & narrow seats.

        Frankly, neither of us were lacking in terms of hygiene; we got along nicely as row mates who acknowledged & were aware of each others’ boundaries and personal space; and most importantly, neither of us are creepy or had an “ick” factor.

        But, during our handful of brief conversations about that flight, or when we compared notes about airlines, inflight experiences & aircraft flown between Mexico City & NYC, we both agreed overall that being stuck aboard 737s AeroMexico & United use, or the 757s Delta uses on the route even in the extra legroom rows is undesirable given the duration of the flights (especially to MEX which is nearly as long as a domestic US transcon).

        Needless to say, we both agreed that the best flight on that route is AeroMexico’s widebody 787 – if in Class Premier that is!

        Point is, though, there is a meaningful qualitative difference between the narrower seats aboard Boeing’s 737s/757s vs Airbus’s aircraft with 18” seat widths.

        There just is.

        And frankly, once the flight duration exceeds 3.5, maybe 4 (maximum) hours, 17-17.2” wide seats are far too narrow for most adults – even relative small fry’s like me or the petite female next to me for nearly 6.5 hours aboard Delta’s “75D”.

        It just is.

        And when we’re being honest, I’m confident most will agree.

        Especially women, who I imagine might not always find themselves with a neighbor they can “laugh off” what otherwise would’ve been nearly constant physical contact for ~6.5 hours with a total stranger if that person was unwilling to “lean to the left” (as I did) so their arms, shoulders or elbows weren’t pressed against each other virtually uninterrupted for what turned out to be a much longer flight than either of us expected.

        So, if we’re talking about aircraft models that are specifically designed for long- & ultra long-haul segments, where sleeping is also part of the equation, fact is, 17-17.2” wide seats “densely packed” in any cabin (extra legroom or standard pitch rows), be it single or twin aisle, really are too small & narrow for those very long missions.

        Again, they just are.

        And again, when we’re being honest, I’m confident most others know that, too.

        So, if the 9-abreast 3-3-3 Y cabin featuring the super narrow seats & aisles isn’t part of Boeing’s discussion regarding a possible future 787 passenger experience “enhancement” then IMHO there’s not much of an enhancement in the offing.

        Of course, it would hardly be shocking if Boeing “enhanced” the window dimming (or just added old school, pull down window shades) and then went agog gushing in its press releases about how incredible & amazing their “new & improved” 787s are! 🙄🤣

        Oh, one last thing! Since there was no rebuttal regarding the onboard obstacle course that are the limbs, torsos or even heads cluttering 9-abreast 787 (& 10-abreast 777) aisles discussed earlier, I’ll assume the situation as described “is what it is” – an incredibly unpleasant, & possibly even dangerous (especially to those with reduced mobility) element that also is NOT part of Boeing’s discussion for future 787 passenger experience “enhancing”.

        Just sayin’ 😉

        • The seats are airline’s stuff.
          Boeing is responsible for not enough cabin width.

          But if you check Boeing’s MAX airport planning data, Boeing is using other window seats with cutted corners, moving the seat into the windows.
          Pax could try to get some money back because window seats are not full seats.

          • Seats are airline ‘s stuff, true, but also true that Boeing makes aircraft in 8,5 abreast like 787 and in 9,5 abreast like 777, so Boeing is “a complice” – makes it possible with ease. That’s Boeing commercial strategy and airlines are buying it. Commercially – brilliant, PaxEx – ufff, no comments…

        • With Covid, other flus, and other health benefits, I think there should be a requirement for 19″ wide seats, (21″ center to center of armrest), 34″ pitch, and 20″ clear aisles. Throw out the old seats and raise the prices for air travel.

      • Airlines were forced.

        8 across on the 787 dimishes its advantage over the A330.
        A330 NEO works in 8 across.
        the 787 not so much.

    • Good luck, don’t hold your breath (carry you own oxygen?)

      I think Cebu has an A340 that carries 415 pax if that helps?

      Me, I am glad my big travel days are done. It used to be interesting.

        • No disagreement, but Ethiopian also wanted denser seating. they are in important Boeing customer.

          The reasoning was that their population was skinnier and they were planning on flying to China (also skinnier)

          9 seats just spread (pardon a bad pun) like wildfire.

  13. 787 was design from the beginning to be both 8 and 9 abreast. The schematic from the earliest days of the Dreamliner always was a 8 and 9 seats. At 8 seats the cabin width is too generous and no airline was going to utilize it like that except the Japanese. ANA quickly realized that.

    • Decent wide armrests, seat bottoms and an aisle where crews and passengers can move with bumping others never struck me as too generous. It used be the standard on the 767 and 777. And still is on the A320, A330 and A350. Paying passengers haven’t become narrower I assume.

      • There are many reviews of 787 economy class long-haul flights on YouTube and elsewhere. Most good and some bad. As Scott said there is variability between airlines, and I suspect also between the personalities of reviewers.

        I’m 6’4″ and 190 lbs. I have no problem with the 787 seat width or comfort, for me knee-room is always the issue but I’m more or less used to it. I get an exit row when possible, and was moved there (empty seat) by attendants on the one occasion I asked (12 hour flight).

        Attitude has a lot to do with it as well. As one reviewer wrote, you put up with some inconveniences and have to share your personal space with others, more so than most other venues, but for $300 with food and drinks, you step out on the other side of the world. That’s still remarkable when you stop to think about it.

        It also may be that occasional travelers (like me) are more in enjoyment mode, whereas that’s worn off for frequent travelers.

        • Try flying an airline that has both 787s and A350s, with a change of aircraft at a transit hub, e.g. Qatar Airways. You then get a very nice comparison of the difference in comfort level.
          Also: try sitting in a window seat on a 787 next time…and, if you have the opportunity, try and pick a window seat where the inter-window beam coincides with shoulder position. You’ll be leaning several inches into the space of the middle passenger just to try and get semi-comfortable.

          A 9-abreast 787 is a disaster where comfort is concerned…unless you’re very small, or very drunk.

        • I think OE and airlines in question have been trying to turn this into a perceptions, attitude, subjective thing. It all really depends so what can I/we do..

          But Rob, as you know, this is about inches & revenue. Stuff in more. If you move from 9 to 10 abreast, no free ride. The armrests are narrowed, aisles narrowed as well as the seat cushions. Put 9 blokes in a line, then add a 10th one, without the outer ones moving. No psychology escapes here.

          If you go slim seats & don’t increase bin volume, toilets, same story. If you are the airline / manufacturer or blinded supporter, no way you’ll ever admit though, if there is no solution.

          Delta, Singapore and Korean resisted the “stuff them – deny” trend. Flew them a lot in recent years..

          • I don’t disagree, I just pointed out that the majority of passengers accept it, are ok with it, make the best of it, and still enjoy the experience of flying. Likely in order to get the benefit of lower cost, which the airlines recognize as well.

            If passengers are not happy, they can pay more and fly in a higher class. The moaning about an inch of seat width seems a bit silly to me. The descriptions of torturous conditions even more so. But maybe because I’m large and am accustomed to not fitting & banging into things. Also don’t fly that often.

            I’ve sat beside parents with toddlers where they are spilling over on both sides of their seats. You could ask them why they didn’t buy a second ticket and bring a car seat. But you deal with it, they have a right to fly too. In most cases they apologize and you have a laugh together. It’s not the end of the world, or an episode of “Survivor: 787”.

          • Rob:

            Making an unfounded assumption in enjoying or tolerating.

            Having spend a night in a raging storm on a rotten wooden fish barge, I can be quite clear on the differences.

            Granted I obvious survived vs being dead. Ergo I tolerated it. I have other words for it that are not allowed to print.

            I do agree if you do it more than once then its on you.

            note: I never spent another night on a rotten fish barge.

          • Not assumption, conclusion based not just on my own experience, but on positive reviews posted on YouTube and elsewhere. Many passenger videos taken during long-haul flights, that don’t show widespread suffering, torture or carnage among passengers. No doubt some will always feel they had a bad experience, or feel the need to criticize. But as is typical, that is not the majority view.

          • “” Likely in order to get the benefit of lower cost””

            That’s not how business works. Especially how beancounters think about it.
            Pricing is all about what can be reached on the market.

          • Leon, people shop at Walmart for a reason, because they want to hold costs down. People shop online for low-cost airfare for the same reason. Businesses respond to that, so that is how business works.

            People then blame the business for the negative impacts, but the solution is simple, don’t shop there. If there was low demand for economy class but high demand for premium classes, the airlines would adjust accordingly. But that is not the case.

          • Airfares are not cheaper because of narrow seats.
            It’s just Boeings MO to design narrow cabins.

          • Boeing designs cabin widths by what they believe will be acceptable to the market. A too-narrow cabin would not find market acceptance.

            As Scott said, you can’t blame the manufacturer for seating arrangements the airlines see as profitable.

            When seating density goes down, airline prices go up. So consumers can choose the limits indirectly by their purchase. If consumers demanded the 8-abreast seating in economy, airlines could certainly accommodate that, but at higher ticket cost.

            As I mentioned, based on consumer reviews, there is general acceptance of 9-abreast seating on the 787.

          • Rob:

            U tube is not a analytical tool.

            If you want to site something scientific do so, but don’t try to parley anecdotal into reality.

            The issue is that many of us fly because we need to. I am all for legislation in width and foot area.

            We pay for the system, we get to set the standards if we can get our legislatures to do their job via being owned by the corporate masters.

          • TW, your implication is that the numerous reviews online are anecdotal, but opinions expressed here are not. I suspect the views offered by consumers more closely match market research conducted by airlines, than the largely negative views expressed here.

            If you can get legislation to regulate airline seat arrangements, more power to you. The argument here is not against more room, I’m sure all consumers would accept that willingly. Rather the argument is that there is tolerance of most consumers for less room, if it lowers prices.

          • Why should tickets on 9-abreast 787 be cheaper than on 8-abreast A330neo.
            A330-800 cabin is 2.5m longer than 787-8, that are 3 rows or 24 seats. 787-8 would need to have 24 rows 9-abreast to compete against it which would be 216 seats.
            United is only using 194 seats for eco and eco-plus, American 186 for main and main-extra.
            How can tickets be cheaper with 22 and 30 less seats. Impossible.

            If narrow seats were cheaper the A220 would not have a chance on the market.

          • A220 has wider seats, not narrower, by eliminating one seat across and extending the fuselage to preserve number of seats.

            As far as comparing different aircraft, you get different results depending on how the cabin is divided up and the number of seats in each class. But in general, having more passengers in a given space increases revenue for a given flight and a given class. That’s why load factor is important to airlines, for each class.

            In theory you could have an aircraft that is entirely configured for first class, but the ticket price would be very high. Similarly you could have an entire configuration for economy, which would produce much lower ticket prices.

            These are marketing decisions that airlines make, based on customer demand. They are not forced into it by manufacturer, whose customers are airlines, not passengers. They propose designs and see how much interest there is. No interest, the design is not built. High interest, it’s built in large numbers.

          • The marketing decision United and American made were obviously very poor.

            The space of 787-8 and A330-800 is not very different (rough 168,5 to 169,5 sq m) that’s why they are comparable.

  14. “Boeing dropped it as the cropped wing proved inefficient following further studies.” . . . uh yeah, that is not exactly how it went down.

      • Scott

        Boeing realized there were zero sales outside of Japan and cut a deal to allow them to shift to the -8 for concessions.

        If you look at Japan and 787 (ANA and JAL) there is the dense inter island group and the international group with much less density.

        It was all about out of control program costs.

        • Well what “vanished” the -3 and a larger wing for the -9,-10 was time and money ( lack of ).
          The 787 project had already been bent into a distasteful pretzel at the time.
          Boeing is excelling in the invention of brilliant explanations for decisions that were forced on them for other reasons ( usually some foul up or other).

    • It really wouldn’t help commonality if the 787-8 was to have a different wing to the -9, and -10.

      Boeing are trying to increase commonality, not decrease it.

      Of course if they did a shrink of the -9, it would need further certification, if the rules have been tightened up a little due to the 737-MAX disasters, and the FAA is paying a bit more attention, this makes the business case harder to close.

      Current 787-8 orders around 422 with only 48 not having been delivered yet. Is there much point in trying to do a shrinked -9 as the -8 ?

      Simple solution build the last 48 as efficiently as you can, and don’t take any more orders for the -8.

      • “Simple solution build the last 48 as efficiently as you can, and don’t take any more orders for the -8.”

        …and watch Airbus sell relatively cheap A330-800s in that segment, if demand for that category of aircraft somehow picks up post-CoViD…which Boeing evidently think is going to happen, because why otherwise would they make such an effort to make the 787-8 more attractively priced?

        On that note: I suspect that the post-CoViD airline world may indeed be more interested in both of the A330 -800/-900: for a very reasonable price, you get a capable, comfortable and fuel-efficient aircraft.

      • Yes, if you can make a 787-9 for the same price and an 787-8 what is the Point? Customers will pay more for a 787-9 unless 787-8 does something different at lower operational cost.
        The only chance is to readically reduce massa and cost on the 787-8 buyond what can be installed into a 787-9. Cost is both purchase cost and operational cost. It is easier to reduce operational cost by reducing MTOW and Engine thrust and allowing Engines, APU’s and landing gears that are close to limits on a 787-9/-10 have a few years of easier Life derated/less stressed on a 787-8Re. All parts made with concessions that cannot have a full Life on the 787-9/-10 will get onto the 787-8Re. There are lots of opportunities if the fit is the same for one way interchangeablility to the 787-8Re.

        • Not so easy to reduce OEW and that might not be cheap.
          OEW / MTOW is
          52.63% on the 787-8 (119950kg / 227930kg),
          52.59% on the A330-800 (132t / 251t).
          It seems suddenly the metal A330 became light against the carbon 787-8 and the cabin of the A330-800 is 2.5m longer (3 rows).

          Good if Boeing could reduce OEW and keep engineers busy but the most pressure they have might be costs.

          • All these are good ideas and they were all explored for the -8 between 2008-2014, neither would come home at a reasonable cost (just as Leon said, reducing OEW vis-a-vis reducing MTOW is not cheap and easy for a CFRP airplane). This was the reason that the -8 was eventually abandoned (by pricing it unrealistically). I think their best bet (and still a long shot at that) might be a new or derivative engine, specifically designed for the -8 at reduced TO thrust margin, engine weight, cost, and improved fuel efficiency. Given that a new engine program may cost $3-6 Billion, a new engine may not be a worthwhile effort for the next 5 years if it can’t also benefit other models of the 787 (i.e. the engine companies would be reluctant to take it on if the sales prospects aren’t large). That leaves the option of a “super-PIP”, a more extensive than usual, yet, minor derivative of the current engines, specifically targetted at a future “-8L” model at a reduced cost. Not sure if there are many low hanging fruits that the engine manufacturers can grab to make that happen, without major changes to the fan, fan case, or certain sections of the engine core – basically, nothing short of a major change.
            The NMA family, in many ways, was going to be the plane to answer the airlines’ demand for a cheaper -8 by being a “-8 lite” or smaller at lower OEW. The market was proven to be too small for a new airplane and development costs were sky-high. Even shortly before the MAX debacle or the pandemic, eventual cancellation of the NMA was anticipated. Sometimes, it makes sense to count the losses, declare huge write-offs, and move on so that better work can follow, instead of sending good money after bad.

          • I wonder how much would it cost GE to re-adapt the smaller GEnX-2B67 to the B787-8? And how much would it cost airbus to put the GEnX-2B67 on the A330-800?
            Both these proposal are making use of existing products to mix and match them. On paper it should not cost them too much.

  15. The Airbus internal briefing ?

    It covered major issues at the time…remember this .
    “A shortage of fasteners has been a highly publicised 787 challenge, yet Airbus delves deeper, blaming a late redesign of a sleeved fastener for lightning strike protection that primarily affected Mitsubishi’s wing production. As a result, Alcoa, Boeing’s fastener supplier was unable to meet demand in time.
    Airbus says that at the time the redesign was completed, production lead-time was around 60 weeks, leading to “limited availability of tailored-length fasteners”.

    The 787-3 wing design isnt mentioned but the model was designed to be a lower MTOW for high density japanese internal service , thus the same fuselage length as the 787-8.
    For other regional range flights you would ideally need a shorter fuselage as well.

    • 787-3 was done as sold at the time to fit 767 gates.

      What I don’t quite get is:

      Airplanes are a lot more expensive than concrete.
      Fixing gates is overall cheaper than compromised airplane designs.

    • For other regional range flights, Boeing would have to bring the empty weight from 120t to 80t. That would mean a new aircraft. I think Boeing took the right decision to not spend the money there.

    • This internal brief describes firm configuration from September 2005 with 95.5t OEW for 248 pax and 7650-8000nm. Such a plane would be really good. Which airline wouldn’t want such a plane.
      The brief is from October 2008 and Airbus believed that OEW reached 105t at that time. Still good for airlines, but it got much worse, killing the CFRP advantage.

      That things change during development is pretty normal, but the brief shows the culture, choosing suppliers which are not capable for the task.

  16. Everybody: tone down the personal stuff or I will close comments.


    • Let’s get personal for a minute.

      Many of us here are not only passionate aviation enthusiasts, but also get their (family) incomes from the industry. Many jobs have been cut in recent months, weeks.

      In the US the MAX production stop was bad enough for its a big supply chain, Covid-19 pushed many employment contracts over the edge. Recovery is slow and we seem to be are heading for a downturn.

      I wish all who’s contracts have been ended or are under pressure a great Labor Day week-end. Burry all BLM, Trump, Covid-19, financial troubles for a few days, Enjoy, celebrate good times with your close ones. W’ll get through this eventually, promised!

  17. HMm I would view the problem from a different angle.
    For having a lot of exclusive parts the 788 offers not enough advantages.
    For example, they could design not only a cropped wing, but a really smaller, lighter, completely new Code D wing, together with a new lighter wing box.
    Then the 788 would substantially lighter and would be closer to MoM. Still there would be a lot of space in the cabin – an even shorter 787-7 would then also be suitable.

    Investing now a lot of money to bring the commonality closer to the heavier 789/787-10, costs a lot of money, but doesn’t make the aircraft better. Together with the case of the cancelled 797, tit might be the better idea to re-design the 788 into sth lighter/smaller.

    • Its all a trade off. I don’t see the commonality as being that major a cost.

      Yes it weight more than you like.

      But it carries fewer pax and less fuel needed as well as less MTOW etc.

      Its not a offer for all airlines, just some.

      You can take that argument about max numbers offsets the larger aircraft but only if you fill it.

      There is a reason Horizon fly Embraer around PNW. There are not enough passengers for a 737.

      If you don’t fill the -9, then a -8 is a good idea option that is flexible.

      The premise here is the -8 will be in more demand.

      Long term you could look at a 767 replacement type (wing, lighter etc) – of course that assumes Boeing even can have any vision past share buy backs and dividends.

  18. You are right. If smaller planes are needed and if range is needed, the A330-800 will come on top of most of the widebodies. The A330 is also a more established and reliable platform compared to the 787.

  19. Thanks Leeham.

    I continue to vote for a 767-100, or at least a re-engined -200.

    Good nose, much support for it, ….

    Weight a question depending on range wanted, the -200 has a large wing to support long-distances and the never-needed trijet version, though the first builds did not have the max gross weight for really long range.

    (Out of the box early deliveries matched 707s IIRC.)

    Depends on strategy – interim versus quite long term, which depends in part on capital available.

    PS: Of course Boeing had a narrow body with good nose but it and SWA thought short-term so improved the 737 – the 757, flight deck common with 767.

    • “”I continue to vote for a 767-100, or at least a re-engined -200.””

      A 767 is not a bad idea. 767-200 would have 11-12% more space without aisles than the A321. Fuel per seat would be worse because of 60% more OEW.
      That would look better on a 767-300 and it would be in the middle in space between A321 and 787-8, something a A322 would never reach.
      767-100 wouldn’t be good.
      Can’t be so expensive to re-engine a 767-300.

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