UK long-haul carrier Virgin Atlantic Airways is relaxed about delays to the Boeing 787 programme, insisting that if industry is too damning manufacturers may be discouraged from pushing technological boundaries.
Virgin has 15 Boeing 787-9s on order, along with eight options and purchase rights on a further 20. The aircraft were originally slated for delivery between 2011 and 2014, although Boeing has since revealed delays to the 787 programme.
Speaking to ATI on the sidelines of a media conference in New York, Virgin Atlantic Airways chief operating officer Lyell Strambi said: “We will have an indication from Boeing by the end of this month or early next month as to what the impact on the 787-9 will be. They have talked about delays to the 787-8 programme, but we’ll know officially shortly.”
Virgin Atlantic plans to use the type to introduce destinations such as Bangkok, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver. It says Perth and Hawaii are also being evaluated due to the type’s range.
The airline suggests that production glitches are inevitable when manufacturers are taking strides forward with new aircraft programmes such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380.
Strambi says: “I think out philosophical approach to this is take the time to get it right. Having the problems solved on the ground rather than in the air is a much better strategy.
“They are pushing the technology boundaries and therefore they are likely to have some problems and I don’t think they should be damned for doing that, because if we get into this world and play it safe then nobody tries and nobody takes technology risks.
“If it takes more time, it will take more time and that is it. Companies like Boeing and Airbus know this and will deliver the aircraft as quickly as they can. They have incentives to do so. I don’t think we need to put much more pressure on them, they get plenty of pressure from the airlines already.”
The UK carrier has 38 aircraft in its fleet: 19 Airbus A340-600s, six A340-300s and 13 Boeing 747-400s.
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news