American Airlines to buy 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft

Thursday, October 16, 2008, 19:25 by Aviation Correspondent

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American Airlines, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, the United States, plans to buy as many as 100 new, long-range Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Boeing Dreamliner photo

Boeing Dreamliner photo

Interestingly, the proposed deal, worth over $16 billion at the Dreamliner’s listed price, comes at a time when American Airlines is cutting back its business to cope with the tough times the airline is going through.

American Airlines, Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines are the only United States-based airlines so far to have ordered the fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Boeing Dreamliner cockpit photo

Boeing Dreamliner cockpit photo

Boeing said it has 895 firm orders from 57 customers worldwide for the Dreamliner.

American Airlines, the largest United States-based airline and a wholly owned subsidiary of the AMR Corporation, operates scheduled flights throughout the United States, as well as flights to Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Japan, China, and India.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a mid-sized, wide-bodied, twin-engine aircraft currently under development by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The 787 family of aircraft can carry between 210 and 330 passengers depending on variant and seating configuration and fly non-stop on routes between 6,500 kilometres and 16,000 kilometres at speeds up to Mach 0.85.

The assembly of the Boeing 787 aircraft began in June 2006 and the final assembly started in May 2007. The first aircraft was rolled out in July 2007, and the first flight is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2008.

The first delivery (of the 787-8) will be to All Nippon Airways and is scheduled for the third quarter of 2009. In all, 24 more aircraft are planned for delivery by the end of 2009. The 787-9 stretched variant is due to enter service in 2012. The shorter range 787-3 will be the third variant to be developed.

Boeing claims that the 787 Dreamliner is highly fuel-efficient and offers lower cost of travel in terms of seat cost per mile as well as the ability to fly directly to smaller regional airports instead of to larger airports where passengers proceed to transfer flights to regional destinations.

In a press release, American Airlines said: “In all, 42 of the orders placed by the company are firm. The airline also has purchase rights for 58 planes, which means that American Airlines can lock in a delivery position for those jets at an agreed price.”

American Airlines, the press release added, had been holding talks with Boeing for many years now on a possible order for the 787 Dreamliner. “As a result, American Airlines will be able to get early delivery positions.”

According to aviation experts, most customers that place orders for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner today would have to wait until late in the next decade for an available production slot.

However, American Airlines claimed that it would take delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliners starting in 2012 and continuing until 2018. Any jets taken with the purchase rights could be scheduled for delivery from 2015 to 2020, the airline added.

The order place by American Airlines for 100 Dreamliners means a lot to Boeing at a time when Boeing has shut down its production of jetliners thanks to a 40-day strike. Even before the machinists of Boeing started the strike, the work on the 787 Dreamliners was at least 14 months behind schedule – with the first flight having been put off to the fourth quarter of 2008 from late August 2007 and the first deliveries postponed to the third quarter of 2009 from May 2008. Update: Boeing Dreamliner test flight by end Dec 2009.