787-3 appears to be extinct
Boeing said last week that it is assessing the “market viability” of the short-range 787-3 after All Nippon Airways — the only airline with an order on the books for the plane — decided to swap out its order for 28 Dash Threes with standard-model 787-8s.
“Simply put, getting aircraft into their hands for earlier delivery was a better solution for them,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes VP of marketing Randy Tinseth wrote in his blog on Friday. “As a result there are no longer any orders in the backlog.”
The issue? The long delays in getting the first 787-8s off the ground — caused by Boeing’s unwise global outsourcing strategy — have indefinitely delayed development of the Dash Three. Unwilling to wait around till someday — as in 2012 or later — to get their jets, ANA executives opted to get in line for more 787-8s.
It appears very unlikely that the Dash Three will ever take flight. Boeing only landed two orders for the jet , both from Japanese airlines (both ANA and Japan Airlines) that wanted high-capacity, quick-turnaround planes to shuttle between domestic airports in Japan.
The Dash Three was tailored to fit that mission. With up to 330 seats, shorter wings and a lower maximum take-off weight, it was ideally suited for the Japanese domestic market, but few others.
The 787-3 could, however, end up being one of the most-important airplanes never built. It was a key to launching the 787 program; without it, ANA and JAL weren’t all that interested the Dreamliner, Boeing executives said at the time. The Japanese airlines were the two biggest buyers in the first year of the 787 program, placing orders for 80 of the first 110 planes sold — and of those, 43 were for Dash Threes.
But no other orders followed, which led Boeing to put the variant on the backburner. With ANA and JAL switching to 787-8s, it’s likely never to get off it. However, Boeing says it could always revive the concept, should airlines become interested.
In the long run, scuttling the 787-3 could be a good thing, writes Saj Ahmad at Fleet Buzz Editorial. “With inevitable costs associated with R&D on the 787-9 (and) a new final assembly line in North Charleston, anything that cuts capital expenditure will be a welcome move.”
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