Will High Oil Costs In The Coming Years Prove Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner Development Wise?

If you have not flown on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, you are missing out, it lives up to its name. If you are a business traveler and get the chance – take it. And always check you might find there is an airline flying that route that will seat you in one of these magnificent aircraft. Okay business traveler, let’s talk shall we?

You see, not all is going perfect in the airline industry, so there may be fewer 787 aircraft flying off the shelves for now, but those fuel prices are not coming down anytime soon. Now then, recently Qantas Airlines cancelled its orders for Boeing 787s which amounts to about $5 Billion in lost revenue (at the retail stated price, perhaps 30 to 40% more than actual?). This is unfortunate, and the blame is both with Boeing and Qantas; Boeing due to delays in development, testing, and those darn fuselage fasteners – Qantas due to misjudging its growth strategy with regards to global economics and its unwise purchases of the faulty A380s. Regardless of fault this is problematic for Boeing, as it isn’t the first cancellation of a 787 Dreamliners, just the largest one to date.

Those who have the airliner say it is far superior in every way, but very costly too, so the money saved in fuel, considering the higher-price tag becomes a business decision dilemma, however if oil barrel prices remain high, which there is a good chance they will, the program will be a great strategy putting Boeing far ahead of the competition. Boeing has placed order for 1000 of the new 787 aircraft (270 or so have been cancelled), and perhaps needs to sell and deliver about 1745 by estimates to make it a profitable plane. That shouldn’t be too awfully hard and Boeing analysts figure they will sell some 2700 at the turn of 2030.

The competing strategy by Airbus with the A350 seems to be flying nowhere fast, and already has severe challenges with development. The Boeing 787 is meeting or exceeding its 20% increase in fuel efficiency report those airlines which have them already in operations, and we shall see if the aircraft meets the goals of being 30-35% cheaper to maintain, but chances are it will. There are also costs associated with training maintenance personnel on a whole new aircraft, and although the major components are similar, it is a fully composite aircraft, so everything is new in that regard.

There was a decent article on all this in the Wall Street Journal on 8-24-2012 titled; “Boeing 787 Profit Plan Strained by Order Cuts,” by Jon Ostrower which reiterated some of what I have discussed above here and one shouldn’t be surprised with the cancellations or “order cuts” because we are in a global slowdown in all major markets – Japan, EU, China, US, and Australia is challenged to keep up while India, Russia, Brazil, have all gone flat, zero-GDP growth right now.

So, yes the Dreamliner is a cut above and a drastic improvement considering all the advances in jet airliners since the 1970s, but that technology costs money, and that development cost is steep, so that all has to be paid back. Either way, this is one beautiful aircraft and if you are a business traveler and if I were you I’d request it for your next business trip. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.