Japan Airlines has dropped its 787-3 order in favour of the longer-range 787-8, leaving just one customer for the short- to medium-haul type designed for Japanese airlines requiring a high-density configuration with a trimmed wingspan for use at space-constrained gates.

The backlog for the -3 now stands at 28, with remaining customer All Nippon Airways converting two -3s to -8s as well.

However, Boeing marketing vice-president Randy Tinseth says the airframer remains committed to building the 787-3.

And the Chicago Tribune has reported that United Airlines is considering replacing its 757, 767 and 777 fleets with 787s - including -3s to replace 96 757-200s used on routes of around 4,600km (2,500nm).

ANA 787

 © Boeing

Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia says Boeing can feasibly market such an aircraft, although the technical execution is "highly uncertain" as the basic 787 airframe optimised long-range performance, not short-haul routes.

Boeing initially planned for the 787-3 to be the first variant after the -8, but postponed development to refocus resources on resolving design and production issues with the -8 and moving forward with the -9.

Tinseth adds that another possible replacement for the 757 could be a "light twin-aisle" aircraft built into an offering that could cover the upper part of the 737 replacement market.

He believes there is demand for an aircraft seating around 200 people with a 7,400km range, but says it is not clear whether such an aircraft can be produced economically.

Source: Flight International