Dreamliner

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner has taken to the skies for the first time, beginning a comprehensive flight-test program leading to certification and delivery in mid-2014.

With its new Boeing livery, the newest member of the 787 family completed a 5-hour, 16-minute flight, taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington at 11:02 a.m. local time and landing at 4:18 p.m. at Seattle’s Boeing Field.

Boeing 787-9 first flight

Boeing 787-9 first flight

“Today’s first flight marks a significant milestone for our team, including our partners,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Conner. “We are tremendously proud to have our customers fly the 787-9 and look forward to delivery of the first airplane..”

During today’s flight, 787-9 Senior Project Pilot Mike Bryan and 787 Chief Pilot Randy Neville departed to the north, reaching an altitude of 20,400 feet (6,218 meters) and an airspeed of 250 knots, or about 288 miles (463 kilometers) per hour, customary for a first flight. While Capts. Bryan and Neville tested the airplane’s systems and structures, onboard equipment transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team on the ground in Seattle.

“We accomplished a lot in this flight, and it went really well,” said Bryan. “The 787-9 is a great jet and we wanted to just keep on flying.”

Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, the first 787-9 will be joined in flight test by two additional airplanes, one of which will feature General Electric GEnx engines. Those airplanes are in the final stages of assembly in Boeing’s Everett factory. Over the coming months, the fleet will be subjected to a variety of tests and conditions to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the airplane’s design.

The 787-9 will complement and extend the 787 family, offering airlines the ability to grow routes first opened with the 787-8. With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 meters) over the 787-8, the 787-9 will carry 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers), and, Boeing claims, with the same environmental performance.

“We call that a no-squawk flight,” Capt. Mike Bryan, senior project pilot for the 787-9, said after landing, referring to minor problems that often crop up on new planes.

“We have nothing to work that’s new and we’re ready for another flight, as quick as we can go,” Bryan said. He later said the next test flight was likely to occur on Thursday.

Bryan and co-test pilot Randy Neville, chief 787 test pilot, said they worked through numerous tests during the flight, including checking a stick shaker test for stalls, an alert system that warns of potentially perilously low speed.

“The airplane just did exactly as we expected,” Neville said. “There were no surprises.”

Boeing has unfilled orders for 936 Dreamliners, worth about $217 billion at list prices, or nearly eight years worth of production at its target construction rate of 10 per month, which it aims to hit by year’s end.

About 41 percent of the orders, or 388 planes, are for the 787-9. Boeing began selling an even longer version of the jet, the 787-10, in June, for which it has garnered 50 orders so far. The rest of the orders are for the 787-8.

The jet flew at a speed of up to 366 knots (421 mph) and altitude of 20,000 feet (6,096 meters), according to flight tracking website Flightaware.com. The trip took it over Puget Sound and then over the eastern part of Washington state.

British Airways this week announced that it will be commencing services to Austin, Texas in 2014.

The airline will commence flights in early March 2014, initially 5 times a week, before going daily from 5th May.

Austin will be British Airways 3rd destination in Texas, alongside Houston & Dallas, and 21st destination overall in the US, by far the airline’s most important market.

Although far smaller than both Houston & Dallas, Austin is home to a number of leading US tech companies such as ebay, Dell, Google & IBM. British Airways will also be the only airline to offer direct flights between Austin & Europe and, with its extensive route network out of Heathrow, will be able to benefit from extensive feeder traffic for passengers looking to fly to Austin, as well as numerous onward connections for anyone from Austin looking to travel onwards from London.

Even so, what has made this new route possible (and the airport authorities in Austin have made it clear that no financial inducements were offered to British Airways) is the arrival of the 787 Dreamliner. Prior to the arrival of the 787, which made its maiden British Airways flight to Toronto last weekend, British Airways had 3 long-haul aircraft in its fleet. The 767-300 is an ageing aircraft with poor fuel efficiency while both the 777 and 747 are simply too large for such a relatively ‘thin’ route.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

The new 787-8 series, which will be configured in a 3 cabin layout without a First Class, is up to 20% more fuel efficient than the 767 as well as offering a far more pleasant inflight experience. Although fares on the Austin – Heathrow route are likely to be higher than from either Dallas or Houston, the airline is clearly confident that the convenience of direct flights, and the appeal of the new 787, will create enough demand to justify the new route.

Commenting on the news, Sean Doyle, the airline’s executive VP for the Americas stated: “We are very excited to be bringing British Airways to Austin. This new route presents an important opportunity for business growth across the Atlantic, particularly in the thriving technology sector. We know that London is among the top destinations for international travel from Austin and equally, Austin is home to some of the most important global cultural events. We are looking forward to providing a convenient and high-quality service to new and existing customers.”

 

 

As we enter a new month, British Airways enters a new era with its first scheduled 787 Dreamliner flight.

british airways 787The flight, from Heathrow to Toronto, departs on Sunday 1st September and is the first scheduled service for the new 787 Dreamliner of which British Airways has orders for 42.

Following on from Toronto, on 1st October British Airways will commence a daily 787 service between Heathrow and Newark, increasing to double daily from 27th October. These first two 787 destinations are currently included in the UK British Airways sale which ends at midnight on 24th September.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

With an ageing fleet of 747′s and 767s, British Airways is embarking on a massive fleet renewal programme that, in addition to the 42 787 Dreamliners on order, includes 12 Airbus A380S, 18 Airbus A350s and 6 further Boeing 777-300s.

It is the Dreamliner however that is set to really dominate the British Airways fleet in years to come. Not only will the new aircraft offer far improved fuel efficiency and passenger comfort on existing routes, the same efficiency and far greater reach of the aircraft will allow British Airways to serve new routes that simply aren’t feasible at present. All that stands in the way of British Airways launching services to new destinations such as Portland, Lima and Saigon is the lack of slots at Heathrow.

The countdown has begun for British Airways first scheduled 787 flight.

The inaugural flight, BA 093, departs Heathrow for Toronto on 1st September and, as part of the airline’s marketing effort, British Airways invited Lisa Snowdon, DJ, model and ex contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, to test out the aircraft for herself.

As befits a celebrity of her standing, Ms Snowdon doesn’t seem to have bothered testing out the World Traveller cabin although she does look very comfortable in her Club World Seat.

lisasnowden

Commenting on the occasion, Ms Snowdon stated: ”As a breakfast DJ, I know the importance of a good night’s sleep – so when British Airways invited me to ‘road test’ its new Dreamliner aircraft, I couldn’t resist. Any aircraft that promises reduced jetlag, less dehydration and a smoother journey is a winner, especially as you arrive feeling refreshed and ready for action. I was really impressed with how spacious and airy it felt, with mood lighting and super comfortable seating to snuggle up in.”

British Airways has a total of 42 Dreamliners on order, split between all 3 models, the 8, 9 & 10 series. Initial orders are all for the 8 series, the smallest version, which will be used to replace British Airways ageing fleet of 767s on flights across the Atlantic to the US & Canada. So far British Airways has only announced the first 2 destinations for its new 787: starting on 1st September with Toronto and following up later the same month with Newark.

As well as being up to 20% more fuel efficient than the 767, the 787 Dreamliner should also offer a far more comfortable in-flight experience for passengers. The aircraft itself boast larger windows and over-head lockers, as well as superior atmospheric conditions which should mean that passengers arrive at their destination fresher and less drowsy. In addition, British Airways is fitting all 787 Dreamliners with its most up to date seating and inflight entertainment in all 3 cabins – World Traveller, World Traveller Plus and Club World.

 

 

 

British Airways will today welcome its first passengers onboard the new 787 Dreamliner.

The invited members of the press and frequent flyers will board the 787 in Edinburgh as it operates a short flight to the north of Scotland and back.

Commenting on the flight, Simon Scholey, who will be at the controls of the aircraft, stated: “Serving the people of Scotland is enormously important for British Airways so it seemed right that the first-ever customer flight will take place here. We’re very much looking forward to showcasing it to the people both on board and on the ground.”

En-route to Edinburgh, the 787 will also make a stop-over at Newcastle airport. Commenting on this, Richard Tams, Head of UK Sales & Marketing stated: “We’re very excited to have flown our new Boeing 787 Dreamliner into Newcastle International Airport, which hundreds of thousands of our customers use every year to transfer onto international flights at Heathrow. Our customers in the north of England are hugely important to us, and we wanted them to be among the first to see the new aircraft and to learn about all the benefits it brings”.

British Airways offer frequent flights from both Newcastle & Edinburgh to London Heathrow so the airline will be keen to maximise this marketing opportunity.

The airline have a total of 42 787s on order, with the first scheduled service to Toronto set to commence in September of this year, followed shortly after by flights to Newark.

 

 

 

 

 

With British Airways having just taken delivery of its first 787 Dreamliner, we take a moment to look at the cabin layout.

Thus far, only the smallest model in the 787 range, the 8 series, is in operation; that means that exact like-for-like comparisons are possible between the various airlines.

British Airways has 8 of the 787-8 series on order and all 8 will be configured with a 3 cabin layout consisting of 154 seats in World Traveller, 25 in World Traveller Plus and 35 in Club World.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

 

The 787-8 series has a cabin interior width that is some 38cms wider than the Airbus A330 but 41cms narrower than the 777-200. In World Traveller, British Airways has opted for a 3-3-3 configuration, the same as for its fleet of 777s (and therefore affording less individual space). Only a handful of airlines have opted for the more spacious 2-4-2 configuration, including the 2 largest operators of the aircraft, ANA & JAL. The majority of airlines, including Ethiopian Airlines, United, LAN, LOT, Qatar Airways and Air India have followed British Airways with a 3-3-3 cabin. The only other UK airline to currently operate the 787, Thomson, also operate a 3-3-3 cabin but with 2 inches more legroom than British Airways!

Although there will be those who expected British Airways to opt for the more generous 2-4-2 configuration, to be fair to the airline it should also be pointed out that their 3-3-3 configuration on the 777, even the largest 300 series, is more generous than many airlines, Emirates included, who have opted for a 3-4-3 cabin.

In front of World Traveller, British Airways have a small World Traveller Plus cabin consisting of just 3 rows. Unlike World Traveller however, where the seating configuration is the same as the 777 series, passengers flying World Traveller Plus on the 787-8 will enjoy a bit more elbow-room with the 2-3-2 configuration contrasting with the 2-4-2 layout found on the 777.

At the very front, and taking up a fair share of the aircraft, is Club World. Here too the airline have diverged from the norm with a slightly strange seating configuation of 2-3-2, 1 seat less than the 2-4-2 found on both the 777 & 747. Losing 1 seat does provide a bit more cabin space although the passenger in the middle of the row of 3 might feel slightly odd. It also contrasts with a number of British Airways competitors who have opted for an even more spacious 2-2-2 cabin in business class.

Of course there is more to passenger comfort than just the seating configuration and one thing that all passengers on British Airways new 787 will appreciate is the  airline’s latest seating and in-flight entertainment in World Traveller & World Traveller Plus.

 

 

British Airways today welcomed the first of its 42 Boeing 787 Dreamliners to its home base at Heathrow.

K65936The 787-8 series aircraft departed Paine Field in USA last night and arrived at Heathrow this morning where it was met, amongst others, by Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways parent company IAG. Commenting on the new arrival Mr Walsh stated: “The 787 is a tremendous, innovative aircraft which sets new standards for environmental performance and operating efficiency and I’m sure British Airways’ customers will love it. The 787 will become a mainstay of the British Airways fleet over the next few years.”

As we reported yesterday, the first two destinations to receive the new aircraft will be Toronto (from 1st September) and Newark (from 1st October). Flights onboard the new aircraft are now on general sale to both destinations.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

British Airways has a total of 8 787-8 series aircraft on order, all of which will be configured in a 3 class cabin. The new aircraft is set to replace the airline’s ageing fleet of 767s, a mainstay of flights to the east coast of the USA and Canada.

With British Airways taking initial delivery of its 787 Dreamliners in the next few days, it appears that Newark &  Toronto will be the first destinations to benefit.

To promote the new aircraft, passengers who book the introductory 787 fares on ba.com between 27th & 30th June will be entered into a free draw – the lucky winner earning 78,787 Avios points!

British Airways new 787-8 series aircraft have been fitted in a 3 cabin configuration split between World Traveller, World Traveller Plus & Club World, with a total seating capacity of 214 passengers.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

New seating in British Airways New World Traveller cabinPassengers in World Traveller and World Traveller Plus will enjoy the airline’s brand new seating and improved in-flight entertainment featuring larger screens and a much greater selection of on-demand audio and visual programmes. Passengers in Club World will benefit from the most up to date Club World product with the only recognisable difference being the 3 seats in the middle as  opposed to the usual 4.

British Airways has ordered 42 Dreamliners in total, split between all 3 models – the 787-8, 787-9 & 787-10 – with at least 24 of the first 2 models set to be delivered to the airline before the end of 2017. Initially, the 787 will be used to replace the airline’s ageing fleet of 767s on existing routes (mainly medium haul routes) although, in the future, they may well be used to open up new destinations in Asia and South America.

On 4th July, British Airways will also take delivery of the first of its 12 A380s on order; this will make the airline the first in Europe (and second in the world) to operate both the 787 and A380.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boeing officially launched their new 787-10 series today with orders for 102 aircraft, including 12 from British Airways.

The orders for the new, stretched version of the Dreamliner, worth nearly $30 billion at list prices, came from Air Lease (30), GE Capital Services (10), Singapore Airlines (30), United (20) and British Airways (12). British Airways had already confirmed an option for a further 18 Dreamliners earlier this year so it is now apparent that 12 of those are for the 10 series; what is not clear is how the remaining 6 will be split between the 8 & 9 series.


The 10 series isn’t expected to be ready until 2018 so Boeing were busy showing off the existing 8 series in Paris with an Air India plane, showing of its paces. It does have a certain grace we must say.

 

The Paris Air Show starts tomorrow and Boeing seems set to steal some of the focus away from the new Airbus A350 by confirming that it will proceed with the Dreamliner 787-10 series.

The 787-10 is set to be the largest aircraft in the 787 range (the 787-8 series is already in operation and will be followed shortly by the larger 787-9 series) with seating for up to 323 passengers. It is thought that Boeing had been waiting for enough blue-chip customers to place ‘orders’ for the aircraft before finally giving the project the green light.

Singapore Airlines has said that it will take 30 of the new aircraft while United & British Airways are also thought to be keen. The UK flag carrier already has firms orders for the 787-8 (which arrives this month) and 787-9, but earlier this month confirmed an option for a further 18 Dreamliners. The fact that the airline failed to specify which model the order was for, as well as stating that the aircraft were intended to replace its ageing fleet of 747s, points to at least part of this order (and the rumour is for 10 aircraft) being for the 787-10.

British Airways 787 Dreamliner

 


 

The new Airbus A350 has made its maiden flight from Toulouse this morning.

The A350 is Airbus’ first, ‘new era’ aircraft, built from composite materials (both the fuselage and wing structures are primarily made of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer) to significantly reduce weight and, as a result, fuel consumption. Airbus claims that the aircraft is 25% more fuel efficient than previous, similar competitor models although they are probably  referring to the Boeing 767.


There are two variations of the A350, the A350-9 series (the version that flew today) and the slightly larger A350-10 series which isn’t expected to be operational until 2016. The new aircraft will hold between 250-350 passengers and the launch customer is Qatar Airways which has orders and options for some 80 aircraft across the range. All Airbus A350s will be powered by Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines.

The A350 was conceived as competition to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner which, despite its much publicised problems (3 years of delays followed by a 3 month grounding this year due to problems with its new batteries) has proven hugely popular with airlines around the world. Over 800 Dreamliners have already been ordered and Airbus was in danger of losing out in the wide bodied, twin-engine market if it did nothing.

British Airways has placed orders for 18 of the larger, Airbus A350-10 series which is scheduled to be delivered to the airline between 2017 & 2021, largely to replace its ageing fleet of 50 plus 747s.

British Airways A350 on order for 2017

Within the next few weeks, Manston Airport in South East Kent will play host to two of the world’s most advanced passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

British Airways takes delivery of its first 2 Dreamliners on consecutive days at the  end of June, followed by the first of its A380s at the start of July. Before either aircraft can go into full operational service however, the airline needs to go through a rigorous process of staff training and familiarisation.

ManstonHeathrow is already full, and Gatwick would present difficulties, while Manston, an ex RAF base, has one of the longest runways in the UK and plenty of space for the airline to operate. Commenting on their choice of airport, Dave Thomas, head of flight training at British Airways had this to say: “Manston offers ideal facilities for our programme. We are looking forward to working with the staff who have been very helpful throughout the preparation period.”

A clearly delighted Charles Buchanan, chief executive of the airport, echoed these sentiments:  “We are thrilled that the UK’s leading airline chose Manston as the place to carry out its entry into service programme. Essentially, this means that training for both the pilots and cabin crew will be taking place over three weeks with the aircraft departing from here once or twice a day and also staying overnight.”


Anyone who has ever been to Manston will know that viewing aircraft there is pretty straightforward and we can therefore reasonably expect the arrival of these two groundbreaking aircraft to attract more people to the airport than currently use it for passenger services – currently limited to a double daily KLM service to Amsterdam.

British Airways has 12 A380s on order as well as 42 787s. The first scheduled A380 service commences on 15th October between Heathrow & Los Angeles, followed on 15th November by flights between Heathrow & Hong Kong. So far British Airways have made no announcement as to where the first 787s will fly although the expectation is that it will be somewhere in the US.

British Airways A380 Flying Above Clouds

 


 

British Airways today announced that it would take delivery of its first two 787 Dreamliners on 26th & 27th June, with the first A380 set to arrive on 4th July.

British Airways 787 Dreamliner

Commenting on the announcement, Keith Williams, CEO of British Airways had this to say:

“The delivery of these exciting aircraft opens a new chapter in British Airways’ history. We are proud to be leading the way in Europe in operating both these aircraft types. Over the next 12 months, we will take delivery of new long-haul aircraft at an average rate of one every two weeks. These deliveries form the centrepiece of the £5bn investment British Airways is making in new aircraft, smarter cabins, superb lounges and new technologies to make travel more comfortable in the air and on the ground. Both aircraft types make major environmental advances and will contribute toward our ambitious targets for noise and carbon reduction. Following their arrival, both aircraft types will begin a complex ‘entry into service’ programme, which will see pilot and cabin crew training taking place at Manston Airport in Kent, customer service trials at Heathrow and short-haul flying for both aircraft, including flights within the UK”.


British Airways has ordered some 42 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 12 Airbus A380s and 18 A350s. The second of the A380s is set to be delivered in September and, although the airline has already announced that they will be used for flights to Los Angeles (from 15th October) & Hong Kong (from 15th November), as yet there has been no such announcement as to where the new 787s will fly to and / or when tickets will be available for sale. As per our previous article however, we expect the new aircraft to replace some of the airline’s oldest 767 on routes to the east coast of the USA and Canada.

British Airways first A380 on tarmac

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the first of its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners set to be delivered shortly, British Airways is expected to announce the first route to be served some time in June.

British Airways 787 DreamlinerDespite considerable speculation on potential new routes, British Airways themselves have already advised that initial 787 deliveries are set to be used on existing routes, replacing some of the airline’s ageing fleet of 767s. British Airways have a total of 21 767s in operation, 7 of which are used on domestic and European routes and 14 on long-haul flights. Of those 14 aircraft used on long-haul flights, the 7 youngest (and we do use the term ‘youngest’ very loosely) are being given a semi-makeover in order to squeeze a few more years out of them. That leaves 7 long-haul 767s which need replacing – soon.

British Airways has a total of 42 787s on order. Initial orders / deliveries will be for the smallest model, the 787-8, with 4 set to be delivered in 2013 and a further 3 or 4 next year. Whether the much publicised problems the 787 has faced will lead to delays in this schedule is yet to be seen.

The seating layout on a British Airways 787

Even the 787-8 series, which British Airways has already advised will hold 214 passengers in a 3 cabin layout (see plan), is larger than the airline’s 767 which holds just 189 passengers, again in a 3 cabin layout. It would therefore seem logical that the new 787 will be introduced on routes where load factors are at their highest. That said, impressions also count so the airline may wish to launch the 787 with a bang and select a destination that gives it the maximum publicity.


At the moment, British Airways operates long-haul 767s to Africa, Saudi Arabia (Jeddah & Riyadh), the east coast of America (Newark, Baltimore, Washington & Philadelphia) & Canada (Calagary, Monteal & Toronto). We do not feel that Africa or Saudi Arabia will see the 787 until next year and therefore feel that it’s between the US & Canada for the first flight. As the US is so important to British Airways, our prediction is that the first destination to receive the 787 will be either Washington or Newark. Only time will tell.

British Airways Club World Seat

 


British Airways A350 on order for 2017

Following weeks of speculation, British Airways parent company IAG yesterday announced that it had placed an order for 18 of Airbus’ new wide-bodied A350-1000, with an option for a further 18 at a later date.

In the past, British Airways was one of Boeing’s most loyal customers and, even today, is the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747 with some 52 of the aircraft in its fleet. However, many of these 747s are approaching the end of their operational service (as are many of the airline’s Boeing 767s) so British Airways has been actively pursuing new aircraft orders as it looks to renew its ageing fleet. The first big, new orders were actually placed back in 2007 – an order for 12 of the giant new Airbus A380 plus 24 of Boeing’s ground-breaking new 787 Dreamliner. Delays in the development of both aircraft mean that deliveries have been pushed back by several years – British Airways takes delivery of its first A380 this July while its first 787, further delayed by the aircraft’s grounding this January, is now expected to be delivered sometime in the autumn.

a380 frontAt the start of April, rumours began to surface that British Airways was close to a major deal with Airbus for the A350. It came as something of a surprise then when, within days, the airline confirmed an order for a further 18 Boeing 787s (actually the confirmation of an earlier option). Today’s announcement of the order for the A350-1000 means that British Airways now has orders for 72 new long-haul aircraft – split between 30 for Airbus and 42 for Boeing – for delivery between now and 2023.

One order which hasn’t been split is that for the engines to power these new aircraft, all of which will use Rolls Royce Trent series engines. The order for the A350 alone is said to be worth over £1 billion to the Derby based company.

Willie WalshCommenting on the order, IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh had this to say: ”The A350-1000 will bring many benefits to our fleet. Its size and range will be an excellent fit for our existing network and, with lower unit costs, there is an opportunity to operate a new range of destinations profitably. This will not only bring greater flexibility to our network but also more choice for our customers. Both aircraft will provide further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits with fuel cost per seat improvements of more than 20 per cent. This order will also secure jobs in Britain and Spain. The A350′s wings are made in Britain while its horizontal tail plane, horizontal tail plane boxes and lower wing covers are made in Spain. Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines are assembled in Britain”.

British Airways 787 DreamlinerAfter US aircraft regulators approved its new battery design last week, Boeing has begun the process of replacing the batteries on the near 50 strong grounded 787 Dreamliner fleet. Although British Airways does not yet have any 787s in its fleet, it does have a total of 40 on order with the first aircraft set to be delivered some time later this year. No date has yet been given for the delivery of its first 787, nor has there been any announcement as to where and when the first operational flights will operate, although we expect flights to commence in late autumn across the Atlantic, replacing some of the airline’s oldest 767 aircraft.

Despite this lack of information from British Airways, the airline have at least confirmed the seating layout for the first version of the Dreamliner, the 787-8 series (see below), while photos have also recently become available online showing the first aircraft receiving its paint job.

The 787 has been grounded since January after problems occurred on a number of different aircraft. These problems were linked to the aircraft’s use of ground breaking lithium-ion batteries which are lighter, more powerful and quicker to re-charge than existing aircraft batteries. It is thought that the grounding of the entire 787 fleet has already cost Boeing some $600 million as well as denting confidence in the aircraft.

Despite these problems, there have been few if any cancellations of aircraft orders from airlines while British Airways actually confirmed an option for an additional 18 of the aircraft very recently.

787 Layout

 

 

 

British Airways 787 Dreamliner

Following on from our last 2 articles about potential orders for the Airbus A350 and the seating layout on the 787 Dreamliner, British Airways parent company IAG this morning issued the following statement.

 

** International Airlines Group (IAG) has reached agreement with Boeing for new longhaul aircraft for the group’s fleet. IAG plans to convert 18 existing Boeing 787s options into firm orders for British Airways. They will be used to replace some of the airline’s Boeing 747-400 aircraft between 2017 and 2021.

For Iberia, IAG has reached agreement with Boeing to secure commercial terms and delivery slots that could lead to an order for Boeing 787s. Firm orders will only be made when Iberia has restructured and reduced its cost base and is in a position grow profitably.

British Airways’ 787s will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. The engine order includes a comprehensive maintenance package with total care agreement.

Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “British Airways has 24 Boeing 787s on order already and we plan to boost this by a further 18 aircraft by exercising our options.  ”The aircraft offers a step change in fuel burn efficiency versus our existing aircraft with improvements in fuel cost per seat of more than 20 per cent. New technology engines and improved aerodynamics will lower fuel burn leading to reduced carbon and NOx emissions. ”The creation of IAG has resulted in greater buying power for both airlines through joint procurement and we have been able to obtain delivery slots for Iberia as part of British Airways’ order”.

British Airways has 118 wide-bodied longhaul aircraft in its fleet with 42 aircraft (12 A380s, 24 B787s, six B777-300ERs) already ordered **

What can we say? Well, British Airways hasn’t indicated in this statement which model of 787 the order is for or split between. Even if it was for the largest 1000 series, that would hardly constitute a like-for-like replacement of the 747 which seats at least 100 passengers more; and assuming that British Airways plans to retain First Class on the majority of its Heathrow fleet, it is hard to see the airline squeezing First, Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller into even the 787-1000 model.

Even with a total of 42 787′s on order, the fact remains that British Airways still needs to replace its fleet of 52 ageing 747′s; with only 12 A380s ordered so far, the new 787′s largely replacing the 767 &  777-200 and the airline’s route expansion plans to take into consideration, we still expect a significant new order of large aircraft to follow…….don’t be surprised if the A350 is still very much part of British Airways plans.

Airbus A350

Airbus A350

 

 

 

787 Layout

Later this year, British Airways should become the world’s first airline to operate both the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner but, with the ongoing problems and delays being faced by the 787, so far we only know where the airline’s initial destinations for the A380 are.

British Airways has 24 787′s on order, split between the initial 8 series and the later, and larger, 9 series. The seat plan detailed here is for the 8 series and, as anyone who knows the airline can well see, there are some interesting issues regards the seat plan. The first such issue is that the Club World Cabin is split 2-3-2 as opposed to the 2-4-2 found downstairs on the 747 and on both models of the 777, the 200 & 300. This alternative seat plan will also be found on the upper deck of the new British Airways A380.

The same applies in World Traveller Plus. In both the 747 and 777 the layout is 2-4-2 while for the new 787 it is just 2-3-2. So far so good for those who can afford to sit up front or in the middle.

750x422-a380-world-travellerThe news isn’t so great for passengers at the back. Although the 747 has a 3-4-3 layout, both versions of the 777 have the same 3-3-3 layout…..and they are both wider than the 787. While the airline might claim that the design of the 787 allows for more cabin space, the seats themselves will be exactly the same as both the 787 and 777-300 are to be fitted with British Airways’ new World Traveller cabin.

To be fair to the airline though, they are now in a minority of airlines to feature a 3-3-3 layout on the 777. Many airlines, including Air France & Emirates, already squeeze an extra seat in with a 3-4-3 layout. Perhaps we simply expect too much from British Airways?

British Airways 787 Dreamliner

airbus a350

According to reports coming from the Wall St Journal, British Airways is close to placing a significant order for the new Airbus A350. If true, it will be a major coup for the European manufacturer and a source of great disappointment, and perhaps a little worry, for Boeing.

Although British Airways has ordered 12 Airbus A380, the airline has traditionally been seen as a key customer of Boeing. British Airways is still the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 747, with over 50 in its fleet, as well as 46 777-200′s, 6 777-300′s and 21 767-300′s.

British Airways 787 Dreamliner

British Airways 787 Dreamliner

Many of these aircraft are getting on in age however and British Airways is in the process of a major fleet renewal program. Aside from its 12 Airbus A380′s on order, British Airways has so far taken delivery of 6 Boeing 777-300′s and placed an order for 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, split between the 8 & 9 series models. Most industry observers therefore expected any new British Airways to be for further 787′s and / or 777-300′s, or perhaps even as a launch customer for the new 777-x although this last model hasn’t even been formally offered by Boeing yet and wouldn’t be available until 2019 or 2020 at the earliest; the past delays and current problems with the 787 may have made British Airways more than just a bit nervous.

If British Airways is to order to the Airbus A350 it is likely to focus on the 1000 series, the largest of the 3 models. The A350 is of a similar size to the Boeing 777-300 and will be viewed as a natural successor to the 747 on routes where the A380 is too large; the A350-1000 and 777-300 don’t have the same passenger capacity as the 747 but are far more fuel efficient. The 24 Boeing 787′s that British Airways has ordered will replace the older 767′s and 777-200′s in its fleet which probably leaves space for an order of around 30 further aircraft, possibly split between the 787, A350 and even, still, the new 777-x.

British Airways A380

Within the last 24hrs, Boeing have announced that they expect their 787 Dreamliner to return to the skies ‘within weeks’ - even though they still can’t say for sure what caused recent problems with batteries overheating.

A lovely BA plane in flight

British Airways Dreamliner

The 787 is ground-breaking in many way ways, not least for its use of lithium-ion batteries which are much lighter and more efficient than anything else currently in use.  Michael Sinnett, Boeing’s chief project engineer for the 787 claims that the company has come up with a solution to prevent any future over-heating of the battery as well as ensure that, even if it did, the problem was safely contained. He was speaking in Japan where around half of the current operational 787s are based, with both All Nippon & JAL; in addition, around 25% of the aircraft is also made in Japan, including the batteries.

The 787 has been grounded around the world since January and Boeing, together with its many existing and future operators of the aircraft, such as British Airways, have been desperate to find a fix to the problem. For All Nippon, easily the current largest operator of the aircraft, it has meant significant losses, while for future customers, such as TUI, it has led to a degree of embarrassment as well as a scramble to scrub down older 767s.

However confident Boeing are about their fixes, and no matter how keen British Airways and other airlines are to get the aircraft back in the air, nothing will happen until the American FAA renews the 787′s air worthiness certificate, something they won’t do until every single box has been ticked.

British Airways has orders for 24 Dreamliners, split between 8 of the 787-8 model and 16 of the slightly larger 787-9 model.  Deliveries of the 787-8 model are set to begin this year and, almost certainly, will be used to replace the airline’s oldest 767 aircraft on flights to the east coast of the USA. However, it is the later arrival of the 787-9 model (no date yet announced) that is far more exciting for the airline; with its new slots at Heathrow, British Airways will be looking to tap into growing long-haul destinations that can’t yet support the larger 777 or 747 and which would not have been financially viable with the gas guzzling 767. Such destinations might include Santiago de Chile & Bogota in South America, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta in South East Asia together with numerous secondary cities in mainland China.

787 Layout

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Airways 787 Dreamliner

With the grounding of the world’s entire fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a very large section of the airline industry will now be increasingly worried as to just how quickly Boeing can identify and then fix the problem. British Airways have 24 Dreamliners on order, split between the existing 800 series and the future, larger 900, with deliveries meant to have begun in the summer of 2013. With its increased range and and far greater fuel efficiency, British Airways had planned to use the aircraft to replace some of its older 767s although it now seems almost certain that there will be delays to its introduction. Although the airline hasn’t yet said where the new aircraft will fly to, it would seem that the eastern coast of the US would be an obvious initial destination. Thus far, all British Airways have said is that they retain full confidence in the aircraft and have no plans to delay or cancel any of their orders.


It could be far worse of course. At least, unlike other airlines (most notably JAL & All Nippon in Japan), British Airways don’t currently have any Dreamliners in service and aren’t therefore having to dust down older, retired aircraft and press them back into service. With only a few of the aircraft set for delivery this year, and spare aircraft in their fleet, British Airways won’t be too troubled by delays of a few months although, if only from a public perception point of view, they won’t want these problems to drag on for too long. The last aircraft to be grounded was the DC-10 and it could be argued that its reputation was never the same again.

Nor is British Airways even the first UK airline to be introducing the Dreamliner. That accolade goes to TUI who had been promoting the introduction of the aircraft into their fleet with a glossy tv campaign. The first flights on the new aircraft were due to operate to Cancun in May so no doubt management and excited passengers will be watching the news closely.