As Boeing pushes back its first 787 delivery for the seventh time to the third quarter of 2011, the company says the delay will have little effect on its aftermarket services programs for the aircraft.
However, the delay will have a near-term impact on airlines that support older aircraft while they wait for the 787, and it pushes back Boeing's timeline for queueing up full-support customers.
Tom Cooper, senior VP and principal of aerospace consulting firm TeamSAI, says the continued delays have not had much impact on the $42-billion annual global commercial aftermarket overall. But while its actual effect is hard to measure given fleet decisions driven by the economic crisis, the delay has somewhat benefited maintenance providers that support replacement aircraft types, such as Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s.
“If we look at the impact of the Boeing 787 delays, going back to the original timeline for the program, there would have been approximately 250 787s in service in 2011,” says Cooper. “If we say half of those were going to replace older, more maintenance-intensive aircraft, the impact in additional MRO spend in 2011 is at least $100 million and more than $300 million over 2008 to 2011.”
While MROs may see benefits supporting the existing fleet, Boeing's investment in the 787 aftermarket hinges on the entry into service date. It has said throughout 787 program development that customer interest in support programs peaks about 18-24 months prior to entry into service. Now that it has deferred delivery again, it says the pushback has delayed customer interest in its comprehensive maintenance program—GoldCare—in some cases, since they now have more time to prepare.
TUI Signed Up For GoldCare
Even with the delay, Boeing expects to deliver aircraft within that 18- to 24-month window, and it has yet to generate multiple customers on the support side. It has only one customer lined up for GoldCare so far: TUI Travel, which is its first U.K. customer for the next-generation narrowbody. TUI, which had initially expected to receive its first aircraft in January 2012, signed up for GoldCare to cover its 13 787s in April 2010.
TUI spokeswoman Michelle Jeffrey says GoldCare is one aspect of the travel group's current discussions with Boeing and it cannot comment until those discussions have been finalized. The carrier says it "is disappointed by this delay but remains fully committed to this aircraft which it believes will transform long-haul travel by offering customers an unrivaled flying experience and a greater sense of well-being."
Boeing spokesman Bob Saling says that while TUI Travel remains its only signed customer for GoldCare, "we have GoldCare discussions underway with a number of airlines."
In April 2010, Boeing's director of fleet management customers Larry Levine told Aviation Week that it was "actively talking to six to 10 airlines" about GoldCare. At the time, Levine said that Boeing would like to have at least 12 months to implement GoldCare for an operator and that he expected at least half of the 787 customers to participate in the program. TUI is one of 56 customers who have ordered nearly 850 of the aircraft.
Boeing has not yet announced a customer for its 787 rotable exchange program, which it introduced in November 2010 as a more basic, entry-level-type alternative to GoldCare.