787 Deliveries Resume
- Boeing resumed deliveries of its flagship widebody, the 787, on August 10. American Airlines took the first delivery in more than a year, a 787-8 with registration N880BJ. The American aircraft was one of 11 787s that were originally due last year but delayed due to Boeing’s production quality issues. The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier expects seven more aircraft this year, and a further four in 2023 after rejigging its 787 delivery schedule in February. Hawaiian Airlines, Lufthansa, and United Airlines, among others, also expect delayed 787s from Boeing in the coming months.
Boeing suspended deliveries in May 2021 due to quality issues found in aircraft coming out of its North Charleston, S.C., factory. Those prompted a Federal Aviation Administration review, and sign off of the planemaker’s proposed fixes that was not completed until earlier in August. “Boeing has made the necessary changes to ensure that the 787 Dreamliner meets all certification standards,” a FAA spokesperson said. However, they added that the regulator will inspect and sign off on every aircraft before it is handed over to an airline.
- AerCap, the world’s largest aircraft leasing company, joined other lessors this earnings season in highlighting some key trends in the aircraft market. One is that supplies are limited with Airbus and especially Boeing hobbled by production and regulatory challenges. The resumption of 787 deliveries (see above) comes as widebody demand is starting to rekindle, with AerCap noting an uptick in inquiries about availability. Narrowbody demand, meanwhile, has remained rather robust throughout much of the Covid crisis. Air Lease Corp., in its June quarter earnings call, highlighted the popularity of the A321neo, including the LR and XLR versions, which “now have forward placements out 5 years through 2027, farther out than we had pre-Covid.” One great question for the aircraft market is whether China will once again be a major player, which most lessors expect it to be. As AerCap pointed out, the country buys perhaps a quarter of all the planes Boeing and Airbus produce. The comments come a month after China’s big three ordered nearly 300 new Airbus narrowbodies. Events in Russia caused some lessors to lose access to planes, but the market was never really that large. AerCap CEO Aengus Kelly said: “There is no question that leasing is growing much faster than I had expected before the pandemic … we’re probably looking at 65 percent of all deliveries will end up in the leasing channels.”
- United has made its first downpayment on what could amount to as many as 200 Maker electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft from Archer Aviation. The carrier made a $10 million pre-delivery payment to Archer last week for the aircraft, which remain in development — and a long way from certification — despite assurances from Archer that it will begin deliveries in 2025. United appears the first to make an actual payment for eVTOLs; most other deals are just tentative with American the furthest along having given Vertical Aerospace a “pre-delivery payment commitment” in July. Separately, Archer posted a nearly $72 million net loss in the second quarter but had nearly $655 million in capital as it continues work on the Maker eVTOL.