WEDNESDAY 23 AUG 2017 11:32 AM


Flight was once but a dream. Orville and Wilbur Wright made it a reality. Commercial liners like TWA and Pan Am and BOAC created a new dream of flight. They opened the world up to travellers. Flying became a dream in its own right – but an aspirational one.

Boeing capitalised on that history in aviation by naming its flagship model, the 787, the Dreamliner. With a new approach to engineering and a fresh take on the interior of the plane, the Dreamliner is fast becoming a popular choice among airlines and passengers alike. But, competition from the Airbus A380 – with higher capacity and an earlier launch date – means Boeing’s Dreamliner may become a challenger. A recent PR stunt focused on increasing the reputation of the Dreamliner and its capabilities.

On 2 August, during an endurance test flight, a Dreamliner flew an 18-hour round trip out of Seattle, Washington. But the flightpath was anything but ordinary. The plane drew an outline of itself out of its flightpath across 19 states in the heartland of the US. It’s not the first Boeing test flight to take a purposeful flightpath, but it comes at a time that the Dreamliner is gaining prominence. By increasing brand awareness, Boeing will maintain the positive reputation it has as a commercial jet manufacturer.

With 78 orders on the books for 2016, Dreamliner is the second-most desired Boeing model, after the efficient regional 737 jet. Its 1,155 orders from 64 customers outstrips the nine customers that still use the 747-8 model.

But there has also been increased reach for Airbus’ A380. Operating out of 60 airports to 120 destinations by 13 national flag-bearing carriers, the model has good penetration in the market. Airbus consistently outsells Boeing in the commercial jet space.

However, Brand Finance, which identifies brand value, consistently ranks Boeing at number one, and Airbus at number two in its aerospace league table. The two brands have been at a deadlock in the one and two positions for the past three years, at least. Since the 2007 introduction of the A380 and the 2011 launch of the Dreamliner, the Airbus and Boeing stocks have increased by 208% and 202%, respectively; deadlock indeed.

The 2 August stunt comes at a time when Boeing is introducing the newest edition of the Dreamliner – the 787-10 – to the family. The jet shares the family’s long range and increased fuel efficiency. The 18-hour test flight exhibited those assets.