What odds can I get on Boeing’s 787 having racked up 1,000 sales before it first flies sometime in August or September? Now that’s long odds surely.
Today Boeing lists 584 firm orders for the 787 on its website, which rises to 636 if you include the 52 ordered by lessor ILFC at the recent Paris Air Show.
But how about 1,000 orders by the time it enters service with launch customer All Nippon Airways in May 2008?
Come on any takers? Yes plenty, but at incredibly short odds. In fact most self-respecting bookmakers would have done the decent thing and closed their books on the subject.
The story was rather different in April 2004 when Japan’s All Nippon Airways signed up for 50 7E7s (as Boeing’s mid-sized widebody was still known back then).
Even the most wildly optimistic Boeing zealot would have been hard pushed to imagine how successful the programme has become even before the aircraft takes to the air.
After ANA’s launch order, for a couple of months the sales only dribbled in. Air New Zealand popped in with a couple, then leisure carriers Blue Panorma and First Choice Airways, of Italy and the UK respectively, chipped in.
The floodgates well and truly opened in 2005. By year-end Boeing was salivating over 254 firm orders and already talking about whether it could make enough 787s to meet demand.
A year later and the figure had jumped again to 448 orders with another 194 added. Already this year Boeing has booked 188 orders.
So in sales terms this widebody looks more like a narrowbody. And while we’re talking about narrowbodies let’s open the books on how fast those much-anticipated 737 and Airbus A320 replacements will sell.
One word: fast.