Singapore Airlines took delivery of another brand new Boeing 787-10 yesterday, its fifth such example this year, representing the 20th 787-10 to join the carrier’s fleet, but this one is slightly more special than usual since it represents a milestone in the Dreamliner’s production.
9V-SCP, which at the time of writing has just departed from Nagoya, Japan on the second and final leg of its delivery flight from Charleston to Changi, is the 1,000th Boeing 787 Dreamliner ever built.
9V-SCP carries line number 1000 on the Boeing 787 production list, making it the 1,000th such aircraft to be built, across all Boeing 787 models (-8, -9 and -10 combined).
The aircraft first flew a test flight from Charleston to Charleston on 3rd April 2020, and was originally due to arrive in the SIA fleet way back in May 2020, but COVID-19 put the brakes on new aircraft deliveries to the airline.
The aircraft was taped up in storage mode and no further test flights were conducted for over a year, until 30th July 2021.
Here’s how the aircraft looked during its storage in South Carolina.
The aircraft was then flown from Charleston to San Antonio, Texas, for longer-term storage in a more appropriate desert climate.
The aircraft was finally returned to Charleston a further 2.5 years later, on 22nd February 2023, where it then had maintenance work conducted and completed its test programme of four further flights, prior to formal delivery to SIA on 28th October 2023.
That means this long-awaited addition to the fleet is in fact now over 3.5 years old, following its long-term storage during the pandemic, but the good news is that it’s finally here.
9V-SCP should arrive at Changi Airport at around 9pm this evening, 29th October 2023. As with most recent Boeing 787-10 deliveries, entry into regular passenger service should follow within the coming days, so watch out for this one at the gate if you have a 787 flight coming up with the airline.
It’s not the 1,000th Boeing 787 delivery
Despite 9V-SCP being the 1,000th Boeing 787 built, it was actually China Southern Airlines that received the 1,000th Boeing 787 delivery from the factory.
That was in April 2021, with the arrival of aircraft registration B20-EH, which was the 980th Boeing 787 built. Its delivery had also been delayed by around a year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boeing has now delivered 1,087 of its 787s to customers, as of 30th September 2023.Fun fact: Standing nose-to-tail, the world fleet of Boeing 787s would form a line over 56km long. In Singapore, that means they would run the length of the entire PIE and ECP combined!
Singapore Airlines also operated the 1,000th Boeing 747
Singapore Airlines is no stranger to operating milestone aircraft in its fleet.
Back in October 1993, the airline took delivery of the 1,000th Boeing 747, 9V-SMU, which was a 747-400 model. This too wore a special “1000th” commemorative livery.
The titles were removed after 10 years, in November 2003, and the aircraft was eventually retired from Singapore Airlines service in December 2010, but flew as a freighter in the USA for five further years.
Unfortunately, Singapore Airlines missed out on operating the 1,000th Boeing 777. That aircraft was delivered to Emirates in March 2012.
However, the airline does operate the 10,000th Airbus aircraft ever built – 9V-SMF.
This one is similarly adorned with a special livery to commemorate the manufacturer’s milestone.
Singapore Airlines 787-10 fleet
Singapore Airlines was the launch customer for the Boeing 787-10 variant, the largest member of the Dreamliner family, and the carrier now has a 20-strong fleet of Boeing 787-10 aircraft, thanks to this latest delivery.
While the 254-tonne aircraft are designed to be capable of 14-hour flights, Singapore Airlines configures them in a high-density layout with no crew rest compartments, for regional services of up to around eight hours, capping their maximum weight at 242 tonnes.
This sees them sport a two-class cabin with 36 of the 2018 Regional Business Class seats in a 1-2-1 layout and 301 Economy Class seats in a 3-3-3 layout, meaning the 787-10 offers the airline’s highest passenger capacity after the Airbus A380, at 337 seats in total.
We flew on the world’s first commercial Boeing 787-10 flight back in April 2018, and wrote a full review of the solo window seats in Business Class, followed the next day by another review of the ‘couple’ middle pairs in this cabin.
Singapore Airlines flies its Boeing 787-10s alongside the regional variant of its Airbus A350s, which the airline configures with a slightly higher Business Class seat count (40) but a smaller Economy cabin (263).
Here’s how SIA’s 20-strong Boeing 787-10 fleet now looks, as of 29th October 2023.
|Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 Fleet|
|9V-SCA||656||5.7 yrs||14 Mar 2018|
||3 Apr 2018|
||4 May 2018|
||8 May 2018|
||2 Jun 2018|
||27 Jun 2018|
||29 Oct 2018|
||25 Dec 2018|
||8 Mar 2019|
||25 Apr 2019|
|9V-SCK||838||4.5 yrs||3 Apr 2019|
|9V-SCL||856||4.4 yrs||23 Jun 2019|
|9V-SCM||882||4.3 yrs||13 Aug 2019|
|9V-SCN||896||4.2 yrs||5 Sep 2019|
|9V-SCO||938||3.9 yrs||30 Nov 2019|
|9V-SCP||1000||3.6 yrs||28 Oct 2023|
|9V-SCR||1080||0.2 yrs||1 Sep 2023|
|9V-SCS||1144||0.6 yrs||1 Apr 2023|
|9V-SCT||1148||0.5 yrs||24 Jun 2023|
|9V-SCU||1155||0.1 yrs||5 Sep 2023|
As you can see, SIA’s four Boeing 787s already delivered this year (SCR, SCS, SCT and SCU) are newer than 9V-SCP, since the 1,000th Boeing 787 required post-storage maintenance work after being returned from the desert earlier this year.
The oldest pair in the fleet, 9V-SCG and -SCH, were the first two 787-10s ever built, and flew as test aircraft as part of Boeing’s certification campaign from early 2017. They were then refurbished for delivery to SIA in late 2018.
The average age of the Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 fleet now stands at 4.1 years.
Singapore Airlines currently operates the Boeing 787-10 to and from 15 destinations on its network, from around 2.5 hours (Bangkok) through to almost 7.5 hours (Adelaide and Osaka), based on November 2023 schedules.
While the aircraft’s high passenger capacity wasn’t of much use during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 787-10 had another trick up its sleeve.
The aircraft still proved to be an invaluable member of the fleet during this period, thanks to its significant underfloor cargo capacity, allowing SIA to efficiently deploy it on a variety of routes as a cargo-only aircraft.
This helped to support global supply chains and keep precious revenue flowing in, while passenger demand was close to zero.
Here’s how the 787-10’s cargo capacity looks compared to other members of the fleet.
|Singapore Airlines Fleet
Underfloor cargo capacity
(highest to lowest)
|Aircraft Type||Cargo Capacity|
|777-300ER||201.6 cu m||44|
|787-10||191.4 cu m||40|
|A380-800||175.2 cu m||38|
|172.4 cu m||36|
|A330-300||158.4 cu m||32|
|777-200/-200ER||150.9 cu m||32|
|A350-900 ULR||85.7 cu m||16|
|737-800 / -8 MAX||44.1 cu m||n/a|
Some 787-10s even carried additional cargo in the cabin compartment during this period.
Future Boeing 787-10 deliveries
A further 11 Boeing 787-10s are due to be delivered to Singapore Airlines, three of which are due to arrive between now and 31st March 2024, with the final eight slated for delivery in subsequent financial years.
The Boeing 787-10s expected to be joining the fleet between now and 31st March 2024 are:
|Latest Status &
|9V-SCQ||1068||3 test flights completed
San Antonio (stored)
|1 Mar 2023|
A troubled aircraft design
The Boeing 787 has had a rocky road to its current success, another of Boeing’s recent types that has turned out to be more of a ‘Nightmareliner’ for the manufacturer.
In the 787’s early days, battery fires presented a serious safety issue, leading to a grounding of the type for several months while investigations took place, but since then it’s quality control that appears to have been lacking.
The manufacturer’s Charleston production facility, where many Boeing 787-8s and -9s, and all of SIA’s Boeing 787-10s are built, has come under specific scrutiny over quality shortfalls.
In September 2020, the FAA suspended all Boeing 787 deliveries as a result of the shoddy production standards, which (almost unbelievably) had seen some aircraft delivered with worker’s tools still left inside the airframe structure.
In an earlier shocking production blunder, three of ANA’s Boeing 787s were delivered with engine fire extinguishing controls wired in reverse, meaning if a fire had broken out in the left engine, for example, extinguishing agent would have been fired into the right engine instead, with potentially disastrous consequences.
The defect “must have occurred during the manufacturing process”, an ANA spokesperson confirmed.
The 45-minute Al Jazeera documentary Broken Dreams also covers the 787’s quality control issues.
Singapore Airlines has not been immune from its own issues with the 787.
In April 2019, the carrier was forced to ground over half its 787-10 fleet for inspections when cracks in an engine turbine blade were discovered, forcing older Boeing 777-200 and Airbus A330s to be drafted in to cover many of the affected flights.
In September 2020, 9V-SCI (SIA’s 9th Boeing 787-10) was identified as one of 8 aircraft worldwide affected by a manufacturing defect in its tail.
The aircraft had to be flown to Victorville, California for a three-week repair by Boeing in October 2020, but a further fix was required. The aircraft made the same long journey for a second stint of repairs between late August and early October 2022.
Following the September 2020 grounding, a raft of Boeing 787 aircraft were allowed to wing their way to some customers in early 2021, but fuselage join issues were subsequently detected, and the final delivery was then to Turkish Airlines on 16th June 2021.
Then for over a year, no new Boeing 787 jets were delivered at all, a far cry from the three-deliveries-weekly schedule Boeing had boasted pre-COVID.
Deliveries of the Boeing 787 finally restarted on 27th August 2022, but there was more trouble afoot.
The FAA suspended deliveries again on 27th February 2023, due to the discovery of a data analysis error relating to the aircraft’s forward pressure bulkhead, but were cleared to restart the following month.
These issues have certainly had an impact on SIA’s fleet plans.
In a May 2021 financial update, Singapore Airlines said five brand new Boeing 787-10s would be arriving in its fleet by 31st March 2022. Not a single one arrived until April 2023, over a year later.
Deliveries have of course finally restarted this year, but let’s hope the 787’s production woes are now finally behind it!
Singapore Airlines has taken delivery of its 20th Boeing 787-10, and this one is even more special because it was the 1,000th Dreamliner ever made.
9V-SCP wears a “1000th 787 Dreamliner” decal near its nose, so look out for it next time you’ve boarding a Boeing 787 flight with the airline, since the aircraft should be entering regular service in the coming days.
While the aircraft was originally slated to join the fleet way back in May 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced it into a lengthy storage period, which has led to this out of sequence delivery some three and a half years later than intended.
Still, this represents a milestone for the Boeing 787 programme, despite its many, many shortcomings over the last decade.
(Cover Photo: Gary Eaton @planespottergary)