787 price push reveals changing message

Washington DC
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This story is sourced from Flight International
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The push to regain pricing power on the baseline 787-8, which aims to cut its fuel burn by 20% compared with today's 767, is evident in the aircraft's changing list price, which debuted in August 2005 on Boeing's website for $125-135 million. Boeing says that price was in reference to catalogue pricing messaged in the early launch days of the programme in comparison with the 767-300ER.

The price today, again boosted on 14 December, places the 787-8 average catalogue price tag at $185.2 million, more than 40% higher than first envisaged. That increase is compared to an average 19-22% jump in the price of the 777 and 767 over the same period, respectively.

Additionally, the price of the larger 787-9 first appeared in May 2006 when Boeing displayed a $178.5-188 million and has risen today to average of $219.1 million.

"The difference in price increase is to adjust the pricing relationship between the 787-8 and 787-9 to better reflect their relative size and capability. The increase is also a reflection of value the 787-8 will provide to customers," says Boeing.

The sales success Boeing enjoyed on the 787 may be a doubled-edged sword said Albaugh: "The fact that we're virtually sold out to the end of the decade - we can't supply this airplane to some of our premium customers, and quite frankly I'd like to sell these airplanes for what they're worth."

The schedule for the 787-9 remains in great doubt, and programme sources suggest the new plan will have a bigger impact on the -9 than it does on the -8.

Additionally, Boeing confirms that it is looking again "at the possibility" of the 787-10, a further stretch of the 787-9, to comfortably accommodate around 315 seats in three classes.

The 787-8 and -9 product development planners aim for those aircraft to be dominant on long and thin Pacific routes, while the 787-10 would be intended for the thicker routes. The aircraft, as conceived today, would be a simple fuselage stretch of the -9 while offering a 6,500nm (12,000km) range, nullifying the performance of the Airbus A330-300.

The goal, says those same sources, is to offer a higher priced 787, while adding a comparatively low-cost investment that grows the backlog with prices based on the revised -9 industrial cost assumptions.

With enormous costs sunk into the programme to rehabilitate its supply chain, as well as to rework, repair, reinforce and mature parts of the aircraft's design, Boeing hopes to use the 787-9 as a "do-over", says a company source, first getting manufacturing oversight of the design and global supply chain, incorporating the lessons accumulated with the early manufacturing tranche of 787-8s.

The stretched 787-9 is an opportunity to apply the hard-earned technical lessons learned on the 787-8. The aircraft reflects Boeing's ambition to incorporate widespread design changes to lighten and optimise the airframe and further refine the aircraft's systems.