The Boeing 787 Dreamliner may finally take to the skies again early next month after Boeing introduced an acceptable fix for the problem of burning batteries. Talk is that the problems which grounded the planes for four months may have dented the company’s reputation as well as profits; something we’ll find out for definite when Boeing releases their profit figures soon.
If Boeing’s reputation is sullied then what are the alternatives for airline purchasers?
The uninformed think that the direct competition for the 787 is the Airbus A380 but they are totally different aircraft for different jobs. The Dreamliner seats only a maximum of 290 passengers; enough certainly, but it’s dwarfed by the Airbus A380 which carries up to 900 passengers. The only way they can be compared is that they were developed by rival aircraft manufacturers at around the same time but whilst the Dreamliner relies on composite materials and innovative technology to reduce running costs, increase efficiency and save carbon emissions, the A380 achieves similar savings by carrying three times the passengers in the same plane.
The Airbus A380 gained popularity with airlines flying long haul on popular routes meaning they could cut back on flights and still transport the same number of passengers whilst the Dreamliner flies the gilt edged routes offering passengers a more comfortable flight experience but at very little extra cost. Many airlines have a mix of the two planes for the different purposes and in some ways the competitor of the 787 is more likely to be the A321 Airbus whilst the competitor of the A380 is still the 747.
The Boeing 747 is undoubtedly the world’s most recognisable jet liner and has seen various incarnations. The latest is the 747-8I which incorporates some of the fuel efficient technology of the Dreamliner and whilst being 30% quieter – a bonus for flights near cities, it also has a 13% lower cost per seat-mile meaning that it has a place in the calculations of airlines considering the cost impact of their planes. The plane can seat over 600 passengers and so comes close to competing with the A380 on load.
Next time you’re settled in your seat, flying to some exotic destination, take a look at the plane information card and see whether your airline is flying the latest in hi-tech aircraft.