Monday, July 13, 2015

The 787-300 Lost But Not Forgotten

The 787-300 was lost in the file Cabinet back in 2010. It was proposed with a 3500 NM range. It could be the consummate High-Density inter-destination single-aisle masher. Boeing didn't want single-aisle encroachment on its lucrative 737 production and sales. It has just now rolled forward on the 737-9 Max. Boeing’s cry, “Keep that 787-300 in the box a little while longer!”

Depiction of a 787-300 Wikipedia Artist Impression

The 737-787 gap still exists as the 757 dies a very slow death. Even though Airbus came out with the A-321 NEO, that would be no match for a 787-300*. Let's look at the 787-300 promise before all that Boeing has accomplished with its 787-8.

*A 757 redesigned duo aisle replacement using lessons learned from the 787 program.

Winging It discussed it before during March 2015. However, more moss has grown since that brief mention on the 787-3. The 757 refuses to go away respectably since it is well loved by the owners flying the craft. Boeing could resurrect the 787-300 with all the lessons, advances and technology gained from doing the 8 through 10 series. 

In 2010 Boeing had a tremendous difficulty in making the 787-8 whole. It had supplier issues, including its "build" teething woes, and then the battery exploded. They were in no shape to do a follow-on 787-3 at that time when it hadn't even yet figured out how to do the 787-9 with a plausible degree of certainty. Boeing canceled the 787-3 project quickly until it could get its arms around the 787-8 for its initial delivery into the marketplace. Boeing chooses wisely to back off on the 787-3 concept until it finished its higher priority projects of completing the 787- corps of family progression.

Now has become the time for taking on its only 787 step-child, the 787-3 bridge model, while filling the retired 757 gap. I know the 757/787 remains on some CAD drawing boards. It is time to incorporate its stable supply chain, improved battery system, and all the refinements of success that it can be imbued towards a  787-3/757 type. A conceptualized 757 would be a low-risk venture rather than an extremely high-risk experiment Boeing had encountered and resulted in the 2010 announcement of program closure.  The do-over 787-3 isn't a moonshot as 787 has already successfully landed and has returned from the moon. It doesn't have to carry 330 passengers as Japan preferred. It can go further like a 757 does currently. It’s the ultimate bridge to Boeing's  "Dreams". Boeing has successfully constructed all the parts necessary for this aircraft, it didn't even deliver since 2010. 

All technical risks are retired since the 787-3 inception. It has become a matter of developmental execution. They can draw from sunk cost from developing both the 787-8 and 787-9 efforts. It won't have a huge sunk cost specific to the former 787-3, as it would have had if it proceeded in 2010. Since then, plant and facility have been constructed in Charleston, SC capable of opening up more production.

In fact, Boeing can now stand back and look at the market where it can custom fit the 787-3 into the 757 gap perfectly from all its market data. The 787-3 could be a 250 seat continental jumper. It could pair New York and Paris, or LA to New York without formulating severe weight constraints within its potential and basic load considerations. Boeing can add value to its already sunk costs in place from the original 787 program.

WIKIPEDIA SUMMARY information on the 787-3:
The 787-3 was targeted for high-density flights; it was designed as a 290-seat (two-class) short-range version with a fully loaded range of 2,500 to 3,050 nautical miles (4,650 to 5,650 km). Using the same basic fuselage as the 787-8, the wing was derived from the 787-8, with blended winglets replacing raked wingtips. The change decreased the wingspan by roughly 25 feet (7.6 m), allowing the -3 to fit more domestic gates, particularly in Japan. This model would have been limited in range by a reduced MTOW of 364,000 lb (165,000 kg).[248][note 1]
The variant was designed to operate on Boeing 757-300/767-200-sized regional routes from airports with restricted gate spacing.[249] Boeing projected the future of aviation as between very large, but close cities, of five million or more people; city populations may stabilize around the capacity level of the 787-3.[250][251]
Two Japanese airlines ordered 45 Boeing 787-3s; however, production problems on the base 787-8 model led Boeing, in April 2008, to postpone the introduction of the -3 until after the 787-9's introduction, but without a firm delivery date.[68] By January 2010, all 787-3 orders had been converted to the 787-8.[252] The 787-3 experienced a lack of interest by potential customers because it was designed specifically for the Japanese market.[253][254]Boeing canceled the 787-3 in December 2010 because it was no longer financially viable.[25

Boeing should come back in true workman manner.

  • Define the Market reality:
  • Refine the Model concept for the fit
  • Sign the initial customers
  • Design the new version as "Fill the Gap and beyond model".
All these activities could be ongoing at this time. What Boeing has learned about the 787-8 and 787-9 will influence the 787-3 design. All the unknowns existing in 2010 are now retired as former risks. The 787-3 is no longer the moonshot sent from Japan as it once was. It has a broader footprint in appeal as customers are conflicted on purchasing the 737-9 versus the A-321. The 737-9 Max is a perfect single-aisle tweener on many routes but lacks the full chops for going transcontinental as the 787 could do. 

Boeing executives may come back thinking a 787-8 erosion would come from the 787-3 at one end and with the other end, the 787-9. It only has to look at a load continuity of airline importance. Some 787-8 only hold 186 passengers. Some hold 334 passengers. The 787-9 will hold a minimal 221 passengers for BA. Seat overlap is an airline preference for its business use. The real dynamic for the airline is found in its ultimate purposeful use. Not in its ability to exceed its nominal design. A true gap filler will not adhere to a Japan-only design constraint but will reconfigure its 787-3 in a statistical means for airports, passengers, and destinations, found within the current proverbial "Gap" in the world. 

Japan had its shot with its custom built 787-3, and the concept was not ready until after the 787-8 was validated.  The risk of implementing a 787-3 on an unproven concept was just too high in 2010. Spreading out Boeing’s resources on four 787 model programs at the time would have sunk Boeing’s resources. It would have delayed a critical 777X program it was considering in 2010. It would be a show slowing for the 787-9, pushing it towards 2020 if it had endeavored forward with the marginally ordered 787-3. It became a roadblock for Boeing’s future. As it now becomes an anchor holding back progress towards Boeing’s family of aircraft completeness.

Boeing needs to make a drastic change by configuring it with a middle of the pack width sized body between the 757 and the 787 size, with up to seven across seating, and ultimate seating configurations of around the 200-250 range.

A redesign would give the 787-3 more range miles than first offered. Also, could incorporate its recent less drag advances, and refine more its critical wing dimensions for the sake of existing airports gates as first intended when the 737-3 was first proposed. The 787-3 goes all-in to the 757 gap as a duo aisle.