2010 - A look ahead
The Boeing commercial airplanes division here in the Puget Sound is on
their annual two-week winter break that started on Christmas Eve and
will extend until Monday, 4 January 2010. During the time off, there
will be limited flight activity other than a few oddball deliveries and
a few 787 test flights. So I figure now is the best time to look ahead
at what 2010 will bring for the Boeing company.
Boeing Renton / Seattle (Boeing 737NG)
2010 will see the introduction of Boeing’s new “Sky Interior” on select
737NG’s, which will debut with Norwegian Air Shuttle, flyDubai, Lion
Air and Qantas, among others, starting in June. Goodrich’s carbon fiber
disk brakes for the 737NG, which reduce 318 kg (700 lbs) of weight,
will also debut on select 737NG’s, namely on all six of flyDubai’s
737-800’s they’ll take delivery of in 2010.
Even after nearly 250 deferrals in 2009, Boeing has been reluctant to
further reduce the production rate of the 737NG in 2010. Currently, 31
737NG’s roll out of the Renton factory a month. In comparison,
competitor Airbus rolls out 34 A32X aircraft a month our of their
Hamburg Finkenwerder factory.
The heavy hitters in 2010 for the 737NG line will be Ryanair taking the
top spot with 48 737-800’s with American Airlines close behind with 40
737-800’s to be delivered in the New Year. The Chinese airlines that
have dominated much of the 737NG production for the past two years will
slow down as the order backlog is completed. AirTran has ten remaining
737-700 slots, which have historically been sold upon delivery to Arik
Air. Arik became notorious in 2009 for long deferrals and cancellations
upon scheduled delivery of Boeing aircraft.
The 737-900ER will be introduced to at least three airlines in 2010,
with Azerbaijan Airlines, Korean Airlines and Travel Service. Lion Air,
the largest operator of the 739ER, will take 12 of the type in the New
As an aircraft spotter, the 737NG’s I’m personally looking forward to
are as follows: Aerolineas Argentinas with one 737-700; Atlant-Soyuz
with two 737-800’s; Air Austral with two 737-800’s; AeroMexico with ten
737-700’s; SKY Airlines with one 737-900ER; Qantas (JetConnect) with
three 737-800’s; and Ukraine International with two 737-800’s.
Boeing Everett (Boeing 747, 767, 777 & 787)
In response to the volatile wide body market, the production rate of
the 777 will fall from seven planes a month to five starting in June
2010. Due to the production cuts, Boeing Everett could see up to 1500
workers laid off as a result. In 2009, Boeing laid off 4500 workers
from it’s Everett plant, many of them being engineers that worked on
the 787, as part of a company wide effort to reduce costs.
The 777 line will see a few new operators in 2010 with Arik Air and
Ethiopian Airlines receiving 777-200LR’s and EgyptAir with 777-300ER’s.
British Airways and Air New Zealand will also take delivery of their
first 777-300ER’s in 2010. Qatar will receive their first 777 Freighter
this upcoming year as well.
The 767 line is still alive (sort of) with deliveries in 2010 slated
for ANA, DHL-UK, JAL, and LAN Chile. The production rate of the 767 is
still at one plane per month with a backlog of 63 planes left as of
January 2010. The United States Air Force's decision on whether to choose the Boeing KC-767 or Northrop Grumman/Airbus KC-45 to replace their aging fleet or KC-135's tankers will be announced in mid-2010. If Boeing wins the contract, this could keep the 767 line alive for many years to come.
Oh, I almost forgot, that new plastic plane – the, uh, 787 Dreamliner. Boeing’s target is to deliver 25 787’s starting in the third
quarter if all goes well during the very short time allocated for
flight testing. ANA will take delivery of the first 787, with JAL and
Ethiopian among the first airlines to fly the 787 in commercial
service. A fourth 747 Large Cargo Freigter (LCF) will be introduced in early 2010 to support the increasing demand for the 787. LCF #4 is currently in Taipei already fully assembled and painted in full colours with a tail number of N718BA.
The 747-8F will fly early this year, sometime in mid January according
to recent reports, with the first delivery scheduled for the third
quarter of 2010. Unlike recent flight test programs, Boeing will
conduct the initial flight testing out of Grant County International
Airport (MWH) and later at Palmdale Regional Airport (PDM), where 767
and 757 flight testing was done from in the early 1980’s. Information
on the 747-8 Intercontinental has been sketchy, however, from what I
gather the first flight is not due until early 2011 with deliveries
scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2011.