If you visited our product-information web pages over the last couple of days, you may have noticed a few minor changes in how we portray the characteristics of our airplanes.
For the first time since the early 1990s, we’ve done an update to our generic seat-count and performance information. With these changes, the generic performance of our products is more aligned with how our customers configure and operate our airplanes.
As you know, every airline lays out the interior of its airplanes differently. Airlines use a wide variety of different seat designs; some choose to have fewer business-class passengers and more economy; others do the opposite. So whenever we speak with a specific customer and show them how our airplanes will perform for them, we use their seating layouts, their seats and their mission rules.
But since we can’t share airline-specific information in the public sphere, we develop generic numbers to explain the performance of our airplanes, numbers that try to give a general picture of how our airplanes are configured and how they perform. For that purpose, we use a single set of rules for our entire fleet.
Most noticeably, airlines are increasingly outfitting their long-haul airplanes in a two-class (business and economy) configuration rather than the old first/business/economy three-class. In fact, more than 90 percent of the 787s we’ve delivered have been two-class.
But even as first class has become less prevalent, business classes have become exponentially better. A seat that was like a living room recliner in 2000 is now a lie-flat bed. That’s been great for business class passengers, but it also means a weight increase of 100 pounds or more per seat.
That weight gain, coupled in a slight uptick in the average weight that airlines allocate for passengers and their luggage, means we’ve made slight adjustments in the average range figures for our products: about 600 nautical miles less on average for twin-aisle airplanes, and 100 or so nautical miles less for our single-aisles.
Despite those number shifts, what’s really important to remember is that there is no change to our airplanes. The capabilities they bring to our customers are still the same. And regardless of which set of rules you use, our airplanes continue to outperform the competition by flying farther, faster and more efficiently.