The Boeing 787’s introduction into aviation was met with excellent customer satisfaction.
However, while not directly intended to compete with the A350, it has seemingly been pitted against it in many cases.
Now, Boeing has been in a long-standing process to offer an improved 787 to combat the A350’s success in the market.
Boeing’s Journey To The 787
Initially announced in 2003 as the 7E7, the Dreamliner has been a mainstay in the industry for decades, bringing efficiency to long-haul travel.
The series was set to focus heavily on bringing efficiency to the aviation scene. Its first flight was six years after its introduction in 2009, with an eventual delivery in 2011.
As Boeing advanced with their 787, Airbus were hard at work, continuing with their A330neo and A350 series, the latter being quite the hit.
Using Both The 787 And A350
While most airlines have opted for the A350 or 787, some have acquired both, operating unique missions each.
An example of using the two series for different purposes can be with Australian flag carrier Qantas.
The flag carrier has orders for the A350-1000 as part of plans to offer 20+ hour flights. Meanwhile the 787s offer Qantas further long-haul possibilities and the ability to replace existing widebodies in their fleet.
For Qantas, these two aircraft types will complement each other for years. However, Boeing wants to ensure they can find ways to better compete in this sector.
A 787 High Gross Weight Variant?
Through an exclusive by Leeham News and Analysis or simply LNA, earlier this calendar year, we learned that Boeing was working on an HGW, high-gross weight version for the 787 series.
According to analysts, a variant that, if proceeded with would be hugely important for the long-term future of the 787.
The variant is a decision to increase the payload of the 787-10, with the idea to make the type more competitive alongside the A350-900 and take away potential future sales from the European aircraft manufacturer.
Air New Zealand’s Future Fleet Plans
According to most, Air New Zealand is leading in focus for this new high-gross weight version.
The airline announced during the pandemic the upcoming retirement of the Boeing 777 series. Albeit this will not be done immediately, it will be in the not-too-distant future.
It’s a decision that will also see the simplification of their long-haul fleet into just one sole series of aircraft, which will be the 787 Dreamliner. They believe this is the series to take them forward regarding all their long-haul operations.
If they were to acquire such a new 787 variant being worked on, they would see fewer limitations on their long-range services to North America. Thus harbouring benefits to the airline for the long term.
Air New Zealand has commitments for the 787-10 and has yet to take delivery of the first unit.
Interestingly, in 2019, Leeham News and Analysis reported that Air New Zealand committed to eight 787-10s. As part of the deal, Boeing and GE were committed to increasing the maximum takeoff weight.
This variant would be optimised for a host of other airlines, not just Air New Zealand. Boeing will look to study and gauge overall customer interest for an HGW variant.
Understanding a 787 HGW Better And Outlook
In some instances, the 787HGW would benefit if airlines were retiring their older aircraft with less capacity.
Some analysts even predict the 787HGW could act as a replacement for ageing 777 aircraft, too. Now, not specifically the 777-300ERs, but rather the 777-200 series. Ultimately, this is also a variant that is ageing significantly.
The re-approval of the 787 that occurred earlier this year further boosts the program.
Talk of a 787HGW has been ongoing for many years, dating back to before the global pandemic. While technical details for the project remain relatively slim, the company’s intent has seemingly been ever-present.