Boeing Co.’s stretched version of the 787 Dreamliner, whose sales have slowed since its 2013 unveiling, is getting a boost as Taiwan’s EVA Airways Corp. adds the plane in a wide-body deal valued at more than $8 billion.
EVA plans to take 24 of the 787-10 models and two 777-300ERs, Boeing said Thursday in announcing the carrier’s intentions, which aren’t yet a firm purchase. The airline settled on the Dreamliner after considering a competing Airbus Group SE model, the A350.
The transaction underscores customers’ interest in the -10, the longest and newest of three Dreamliner models, after the lull that followed the initial flurry of orders. Only three fresh orders have come in since 2013. Boeing’s backlog of 146 jets for the -10 is only about 13 percent of the tally so far for the Dreamliner, the world’s first jetliner built chiefly of composite materials.
“There are people who had doubts,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with consultant Teal Group. “It’s good to have an endorsement.”
Boeing is counting on the -10 to help reach profitability on the 787 program, whose commercial debut in 2011 ran more than three years late. The 787-10 retails for $306.1 million before the discounts that are customary in the industry, and Boeing should benefit from more efficient factory processes honed with the earlier versions.
The EVA deal also helps ease concerns that the twin-aisle jet market is saturated with new aircraft, Aboulafia said by phone.
EVA, an offshoot of the Evergreen Line container-shipping company, announced five orders for 777 freighters at the Paris Air Show in June. The airline’s fleet now includes 21 777-300ERs, the world’s biggest twin-engine jet and a workhorse model on long-haul international routes.
Production and inventory costs for the 787, Boeing’s marquee jet, have ballooned to $27.7 billion as the planemaker speeds output to a record pace of 12 jets a month by 2016. Boeing has said it expects costs to level out with the rate increase and then fall sharply as factories shift to the higher margin -9 and -10 models from the first version, the -8.
The first delivery of the 787-10 is targeted for 2018, with Air Lease Corp., United Airlines, Singapore Airlines and British Airways among the initial customers. The plane is designed to carry 330 travelers in a typical two-class configuration, and fly as far as 6,430 nautical miles (11,900 kilometers).