On Sunday Boeing 787 – Dreamliner was launched amidst much fanfare by 15,000 primarily Boeing employees. Couple of things make the launch remarkable. First is 677 orders (at $200 million each)before being assembled ,excluding an order of 20 Qantas planes,placed over the weekend, as the Sydney Morning Herald,happily clarifies. Second, according to Reuters, 50% of the primary structure by weight is based on composite carbon material including titanium and aluminum. Instead of panels bolted together, the composite material barrels are fused together saving thousands of sheet metal bolts and fastners. But most importantly, being 20% lighter the fuel efficiency will be higher as will be the lesser pollution. Moreover, the air pressure and moisture will be more comfortable in the cabin leading to lesser aches and pains for long distance air travellers. As a Boeing marketing executive pointed out on TV, their expectation is that consumers will prefer the 787 and will force the airlines to adopt it. However, the delivery period for new orders is 8 years at this time.
Passenger aircraft are infrastructure products like power plants. Getting individual customers to demand an expensive business infrastructure product is every business marketer’s dream.Boeing has clearly won this round competing against the giant Airbus 380. One Boeing marketing person put it very well on TV saying that both can fly Kansas to Shanghai,non-stop. On the 787 you will be dining with 200 other passengers while on the Airbus 380 you’ll be dining with 600 others. Don’t you get the feeling that the Airbus might just "feel" more crowded?