Japanese Airlines (JAL) has officially signed a deal worth $9.5 billion with aircraft manufacturer Airbus. This comes as a shock to many as thus far Boeing has enjoyed 80% market dominance in Japan.
JAL has signed a deal for 31 A-350 aircrafts with an option to purchase 25 more. The A-350 model has already departed and landed successfully on its maiden voyage this year and is expected to be ready for commercial use in 2014.
Japanese Airlines had previously been weighing its options between the A-350 and Boeing’s 777X jet.
However, the delays faced by Boeing in launching this new aircraft is a probable reason for JAL’s switch.
This order is expected to replace Boeing’s 777 line for long haul flights with seating for over 300 individuals.
Many speculate that Boeing has been very slow in beginning production for the 777X and this allowed Airbus the opportunity to jump in.
Due to the growing concern for the environment in addition to the soaring costs of fuel, both aircrafts have been required to be fuel efficient and as eco-friendly as possible, which was initially an issue for Boeing.
That is not to say that Boeing has completely lost it’s footing in the Japanese market. It is probably that JAL will stick with Boeing for its smaller aircrafts which contain less that 300 seats.
The Dreamliner was intended to be a showstopper and started off with the name ‘The Sonic Cruiser’. With a sleek design enabling the aircraft reaching close to Mach speed, it would have shaved off hours of long haul flights. It soon became apparent that this idea would not be feasible in any way. Environmental lobbies began voicing concerns over the amount of fuel that would be needed and in addition to the high maintenance costs the aircraft would expect to be prone to. The idea was called off and after a series of other impractical ideas, the Dreamliner was born.
It seemed like the perfect solution to all the needs of the current market and so far orders for 950 aircrafts have been made.
The first Dreamliner completed its maiden voyage in 2009 and subsequently became available two years later in October 2011.
The technical faults began surfacing and the concern that Dreamliner carriers were prone to fires grew. This year, all Dreamliners were grounded for three months as a result. The cause was discovered to be the lithium powered batteries on the aircraft that was the catalyst for the fires.
These problems have finally been resolved and the 787 line is back in action.
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