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The Boeing 787-10 vs the Airbus A350-900

What comparisons may be drawn between these similar-sized aircraft?

Airbus’ A350 program was started before Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, however the A350-900 would go into service before the 787-10. Despite having very similar dimensions, these two widebodies have slightly distinct mission profiles as a result of their performance requirements. Let’s contrast the two airplanes today that come from competing manufactures.

a timeline of events

The Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-900 are comparable in terms of capacity, however the Airbus A350-900 is significantly superior. It’s vital to understand the two aircraft’s differing release dates because the A350-900 was released years before the 787-10, even though their performance characteristics may have some bearing on this.

The following chronology won’t be extensive and won’t cover every significant turning point for both programs, but let’s take a look at the major dates to understand how the aircraft relate to one another. In January 2003, Boeing made a formal announcement about a new aircraft project. The program was initially known as the Boeing 7E7.

All Nippon Airlines (ANA) of Japan serves as the program’s initial customer. The 787 program debuts in April 2004.

Launched in July 2005, the A350 program will first produce a version based on the A330.

July 2006: Airbus reveals a redesigned A350 design, this time offering a clean-sheet with a bigger fuselage made of composite materials after returning to the drawing board in response to feedback from significant customers (hence the XWB designation for extra-wide body).

September 2011: Three years after the intended entrance into service date, the first 787, a 787-8, is delivered to ANA.

Boeing announces the debut of the 787-10 in June 2013. Although it is a stretched 787-9, the aircraft has the same MTOW and fuel capacity.

Qatar Airlines begins using the A350-900 in January 2015.

Singapore Airlines receives the first 787-10 in March 2018.

The carbon-composite A350, which was released some years after the first Dreamliner enters service, was a response to the 787, as can be seen from this condensed timeline. However the A350 program began about seven years after the 787-10 did as well.

In fact, three years after the A350-900 started doing business, the extended Dreamliner went into service. This is perhaps one element that, when we look at sales, explains the variation in order numbers. contrasting technical details

Now that their sizes and capabilities have been established, let’s compare our two featured aircraft.

A350-900 Airbus

A350-900 Airbus

787-10 Boeing

787-10 Boeing

66.80 meters in total (219 ft 2 in)

68 m (224 ft) (224 ft)

Cabin Width: 5.61 meters (18.5 ft)

5.5 m (18 ft) (18 ft)

64.75 m in length (212 ft 5 in)

60 m (197 ft) (197 ft)

RR Trent XWB-84 engine, thrust (84,000 lbf)

Trent 1000 with GEnx-1B (76,100) (53,000–78,000 lbf)

Weight Limit for Takeoff (MTOW)

263,0 tons

264.4 tons

192 tonnes 181 tonnes is the maximum zero-fuel weight.

Maximum passenger capacity is 440 people.

36 LD of available cargo

three jars

Fourty LD3 containers

8,300 nm in size (15,372 km)

6,330 nm (11,730 km) (11,730 km)

166 488 liters of fuel capacity (43,981 US gal)

1,263,72 liters (36,384 US gal)

The two airplanes are comparable in size to one another, as can be seen from the facts above. While having similar maximum passenger capacities, the Dreamliner is a tiny bit longer than the A350. Overall, the A350 performs worse than lighter aircraft since it has larger fuel capacity and more potent engines.

Because to the larger fuel capacity, the aircraft can travel 2000 more nautical miles than its Boeing counterpart. On the other hand, the 787-10’s lighter weight and smaller fuel capacity should enable it to burn fuel more effectively, however exact manufacturer-published data on this parameter is not available.

Although though the aircraft’s range will be limited, the lowered MTOW should result in lower airport fees and operational costs. The aircraft can also fit an additional four LD3 containers, which should be helpful for cargo operations, thanks to its somewhat longer fuselage and smaller bulk compartment. evaluating the performance of orders and sales

We can see that Boeing has received orders for 215 787-10s as of January 2023 using public sales data from both manufacturers. The two companies with the highest orders to date are Singapore Airlines, which placed two separate orders for 27 and 15, respectively, in 2013 and 2017, and Etihad, which placed a single order for 30 in 2013.

Even though United Airlines is reported as having placed 26 orders totaling four orders with Boeing, the carrier recently committed to 100 Dreamliners (with options for another 100). Variants are not stated in the airline’s order. As a result, the airline may decide to grow its 787-10 fleet in the future.

According to order data that is current as of December 31st 2022, Airbus has received orders for an astonishing 750 airframes. With 65 orders for the version, Singapore Airlines appears to be the major buyer. Other big customers include Lufthansa (45), Qatar Airlines, and Emirates, who have committed to a sizeable number of them (50). (34).

Even while United Airlines is still listed as having an order for 45 A350s, this order has been on hold for the better part of a decade, and many people are doubtful that the airline would actually fulfill its commitment.

The large order from Air India is the most recent event that will marginally alter these numbers. Yet, the carrier will only fly six A350-900s and twenty 787-9s when our two types are compared. Including this most recent information will undoubtedly increase Airbus’s lead, but only somewhat given how big of a lead it already enjoys.

The traveling experience

As we’ve mentioned in past pieces, it can be difficult to compare passenger comfort because so much of the experience is up to the airline. The operator, not the builder of the airframe, chooses the seat configuration, seat comfort, and in-flight entertainment.

Yet, there are a few generic factors that apply to these two aircraft that we might consider. Furthermore to be highlighted is the fact that a lot of these arguments will also hold true for the overall argument between the A350 and 787.

disparities in windows

When it comes to the standards set by the aircraft manufacturer for the passenger experience, the windows on the Boeing 787 represent a noticeable difference. These “dimmable windows” are among the largest in the sky and measure around 27 x 47 cm (10.63 inches x 18.5 inches). They can be lit brightly or darkly.

The benefit for passengers is that, despite the sun’s intense glare, they can still enjoyably gaze out the window. The fact that cabin crew may remotely operate them and even lock them from passenger changes is a drawback for passengers—at least those who are seated near a window.

Because some passengers prefer traditional window coverings, this feature isn’t necessarily better than the A350. The A350’s windows (and their plastic shades) are smaller than the Dreamliner’s windows, measuring 24.1 x 34.3 cm (9.5 inches x 13.5 inches).

Seat configuration and cabin width

Although Boeing has little control over how airlines arrange the passenger cabins on their aircraft, airlines are ultimately limited by the cabin’s breadth in terms of the number of seats per row. Although it doesn’t come up as much when talking about premium cabins, it can be a problem in those with economy class seating.

Practically every airline installs its seats in a 3-3-3 configuration for economy class on 787-10s. This often results in a seat width of between 17 and 17.5 inches, according to data from SeatGuru. On the A350-900, the seating arrangement for economy class is frequently 3-3-3.

Nonetheless, most carriers are described as having 18 inch-wide seats because the cabin is a little broader. A tenth seat has (sadly) been squeezed into each row by several carriers thanks to the slightly bigger cabin.

In this instance, the seat will be a super-comfy 16–16.5 inches wide. Two airlines that use this design are French Bee and Air Caraibes (see photo below). extending oneself

Regarding the 787-10, range appears to be the primary topic of conversation. The -10’s fuel capacity is the same as that of the 787-9, although it cannot travel as far as its shorter Dreamliner siblings.

Some have referred to the plane as “more of a regional aircraft than its predecessors” as a result, as Brian Sumers of Skift stated in 2018. Sumers opened his post by expressing his opinions on the capabilities (or lack thereof) of the 787-10.

“Previous Boeing 787 Dreamliners transformed aviation and made it possible for airlines to launch glamorous new long-haul routes. Although it’s unlikely, the 787-10 is still a powerful airplane.”

Sumers is absolutely correct when she says that the 787-10 won’t revolutionize ultra-long-haul flying, especially when compared to the -8 and -9 Dreamliner models. The -10 will, however, be a cost-effective aircraft with the potential to transform unprofitable routes into ones that are more lucrative, as is also mentioned.

By doing so, the aircraft may go far enough that it doesn’t significantly restrict the services that most airlines can provide. In fact, below are a few of the existing 787-10 itineraries planned by airlines:

British Airways offers service to places like Denver, Doha, Seattle, and Washington Dulles from its hub at London Heathrow.

Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Shanghai are among the Asia Pacific cities served by All Nippon Airlines’ 787-10 from Tokyo.

From Abu Dhabi, Etihad offers service to far-off locations like Jakarta, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, and Seoul.

United Airlines connects New York to Tel Aviv and Los Angeles to Tokyo on some of its lengthier 787-10 itineraries.

Dutch airline KLM operates 787-10 flights to destinations including Atlanta, Cancun, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Panama City from its base at Amsterdam Schiphol.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that Vietnam Airlines deploys its 787-10s primarily on internal routes with a duration of no more than a few hours, which is on the completely opposite end of this range dispute.

The carrier’s 787-10s appear to be most frequently used on the extremely congested Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh route, which is less than two hours long. Therefore you can see that the longest 787 variant can operate on some quite long journeys. The maximum range from London Heathrow is depicted differently in the figure above.

In spite of the fact that the A350’s maximum range is 2000 nm longer than the 787-10’s reported maximum range, it can be claimed that the latter will still be able to fly most of the same routes as its Airbus opponent at a cheaper operational cost because of the latter’s smaller MTOW.

contemporary and recent concerns

Examining the problems that each aircraft has or is now experiencing can help to make the comparison as thorough as feasible.

Both aircraft are currently in a relatively safe position, especially since that Airbus has finally resolved its disagreement with Qatar Airways. The heated battle about surface degradation with Qatar Airways has been the proverbial “monkey on the back” of the A350 for the past two years.

At a UK court, the European aircraft manufacturer had to defend itself, stating that its A350s are safe to fly despite surface deterioration and subsequent exposure to the aircraft’s lightning protection system. Boeing’s 787 isn’t exempt from paint problems either. Without an airline suing the corporation, they have, undoubtedly, been lower profile.

The bigger problem with the 787 has been delivery issues, which were finally resolved in August 2022 after nearly two years of delivery halts by the US aircraft manufacturer. This delivery halt was brought on by quality-control problems and manufacturing faults that the FAA had raised.

As a result, multiple 787-10 operators as well as various airlines had to wait a long time to receive their new Dreamliners. Of course, Boeing has been putting a lot of effort into eliminating its backlog and appears to be back on its feet in terms of Dreamliner production. Conclusion: Same sizes, various benefits

When comparing these two aircraft, it seems that the A350-900 is a more capable machine, especially when it comes to extended flights. The A350 has larger fuel tanks than other vehicles do in order to attain this range, which increases operating weight.

Yet, despite having lower fuel tanks and being lighter than the A350-900, the 787-10 can still travel great distances while carrying a comparable number of people (and slightly more cargo). With a potential extended range or “high gross weight” option, Boeing is reportedly tackling the 787-10’s range issue. Yet, nothing was formally on offer as of the publishing date of this article.

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