News Singapore Airlines

Singapore’s First 787-10 Revealed: Our Predictions

Medium-haul focus for SIA's 787, and they could be in service by April 2018.

Just a week ago Boeing rolled out the first production 787-10 variant, sporting the distinctive tail colours of launch customer Singapore Airlines, but today the same aircraft (MSN 60254 for the AvGeeks out there) left the paint-shop in the full SIA livery, also painted with it’s delivery registration 9V-SCB.

sq787beforeafter
Before and after – what a difference seven days makes. (Photos: Boeing)

How many of these planes are coming?

The 787-10 is a big deal for SIA – they have already signed for 30 firm orders, with commitments for another 19, leading to a possible fleet of 49 aircraft. SIA is not only the launch airline for the “dash ten”, they are also the joint-largest customer with only Etihad having matched their firm order for 30 jets.

It’s not impossible that some of the aircraft might be transferred to budget subsidiary Scoot (after all the original group order for 787-8 and -9 aircraft was made under Singapore Airlines, before being transferred) but we haven’t heard any suggestions of that to date. For now, expect all these planes to show up in SIA colours.

What will it be used for?

So far the carrier has been tight-lipped over any specific routes for this new aircraft, an 18ft stretch of the 787-9 now widely in service worldwide. One thing the airline has made widely known however is that the intended market for this new jet (the shortest range version of the 787 family) is as an A330 / 777-200 replacement for medium-haul routes. That’s SIA-speak for anything up to eight hours.

What about the seating?

So far no proposed 787-10 operator has (publicly) announced their exact passenger accommodation layout for the aircraft. Boeing states a typical 2-class seating provision for 330 passengers, but we predict SIA will opt for a lower density layout.

One exciting thing about this aircraft is that SIA will install a brand new regional business class product on it, and they have already announced that unlike the current 172-degree recline regional business class seats installed on the A330-300 and many 777-200 and -300 aircraft, this seat will convert into a fully flat bed. The same product will also be installed on the “regional batch” of A350-900 aircraft arriving in 2018.

The guys at Australian Business Traveller have been keeping on top of it, and confirmed in this article from January that the airline has selected a Stelia Aerospace seat design, and is also believed to be favouring a staggered configuration, like the latest Qantas business class product.

QFA330biz
Could this ‘staggered 1-2-1’ layout be the new Singapore Airlines regional business product? (Photo: Qantas)

That’s not too surprising as a fully flat seat in either an angled 1-2-1 or forward-facing 2-2-2 config usually takes up more room than the current SIA regional business class product, whereas the staggered configuration where in bed mode your feet effectively go under the table of the passenger in front, is quite “space efficient”.

For example, Qantas fits 28 of it’s new flat bed staggered 1-2-1 business class seats in exactly the same space as SIA fits 30 of it’s 172-degree lie-flat seats on the A330-300, not a huge sacrifice for a far superior product.

So how would it work on the SIA 787-10? Well assuming the forward section (between the first two doors) is reserved for business class seating (in a staggered 1-2-1 Qantas-style configuration as seen above), with the remainder of the aircraft in an 3-3-3 economy layout, we believe the 787-10 would accommodate around 38 to 42 business and 266 to 284 economy passengers – for a total of 304 to 326 seats.

That’s also assuming SIA stick with the 777-200 / A330 two-class arrangement for regional flights. With this category of aircraft also operating services to and from Australia and Japan, for example, Premium Economy seats might well be fitted too. If that’s the case – expect around 24 to 28 premium economy seats, with economy class reducing to 230 to 248 seats.

Call it a whim, but we don’t actually expect SIA to install premium economy on either the 787-10 or the regional A350-900 aircraft.

Will there be any seats to avoid?

There looks to be a ‘missing window’ about halfway back in the forward section which will almost certainly be in the business class cabin. The same applies around halfway down the last section in economy. Expect at least one row to avoid in those sections if you’re a fan of the view outside.

Will it have Wi-Fi?

Yes! That big ‘hump’ on the roof, about a third of the way down the aircraft fuselage, is exactly what provides it. This will therefore be the first regional aircraft in the SIA fleet to have Wi-Fi connectivity. We have no information yet about which provider has been chosen, but we think it will probably be Panasonic – like the Scoot 787s.

When will it arrive and where will it fly first?

Neither question has an exact answer yet. First delivery is slated for ‘the first half of 2018’ according to official press releases. The well-respected ‘787Blogger‘ points towards a tentative delivery of the first aircraft in March 2018, with the second following in mid to late-April 2018 in this article.

sq78710a
Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta could well be on the cards in the early days of operation – a great opportunity for a cheap redemption flight on a beautiful new plane. Note that hump on the fuselage roof. It’s Wi-Fi time for the regional fleet. (Photo: Boeing)

Initial routes to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta would be likely as these are normally used by Singapore Airlines for crew training in the first few weeks and months of operation. Bangkok is a good bet for the same reason. Once we know – you’ll know.

Slightly geeky: Why is it 9V-SCB?

Normally aircraft registrations are assigned in a sequence, starting with A at the end, then B and so on. So why is this plane 9V-SCB you may ask?

It’s only a theory – but this aircraft is actually scheduled to join the formal 787-10 flight test program in early 2018 as part of the Boeing test fleet and will perform a number of flights as part of the type certification prior to delivery in April 2018 (that’s right – the 787-10 hasn’t actually been certified yet).

sq787scb
SCB is an unusual out-of-sequence registration for the first aircraft of a new type. (Photo:Boeing)

The second 787-10 for SIA will not go into final assembly until around a month from now, but as it will not join the flight test certification program it should actually be delivered first – in March 2018. We therefore predict that the second aircraft to be assembled for SIA will be registered 9V-SCA. The normal alphabetic sequence should then resume. Or we could just be totally wrong about it. Again, credit to 787Blogger for the proposed delivery info.

Finally…

We’re really excited about this new aircraft, in particular trying out the new regional flat bed business class product SIA will install on it. So however it’s configured, whenever it enters service, and wherever it flies, rest assured that we’ll be sure to try and hop on one of these new planes once they enter service, and write a detailed review.

Advertisements

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s