The Qatar Airways787 Dreamliner taxied down the runway and took off at a steep pitch, rising quickly toward the clouds over the Farnborough International Airshow. The grey and maroon jet banked sharply, and then again, showing off its swept wings and its impressive agility.
As it circled back around and approached the expo airstrip for a final touch-and-go, Mike Carriker, Boeing Co.’s chief pilot for new airplane product development and its on-site play-by-play announcer last Monday, implored the crowd to “listen.”
“Listen for this jet. Just listen,” Carriker said, according to a video recording of the demonstration. “And then look at that wing.”
Sure enough, the plane was quite quiet. And aside from Boeing’s first aerial display at the airshow in 28 years, so was last week for the Dreamliner. There were more whispers and suggestions than orders or deliveries.
On Monday, an aircraft leasing company executive at the industry event outside London seemed to suggest the extended-model Dreamliners he has on order could be built in North Charleston, a prospect Boeing acknowledged but did not confirm. That same day, new Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner declined to offer a timeline for the production of an even larger Dreamliner, saying he was waiting for more customer feedback.
While airlines were ordering Boeing’s planned 737 MAX jet by the hundreds, there wasn’t a single new order announced for the 787. And there weren’t any 787 deliveries on this side of the Atlantic, including here in South Carolina.
There was also no update regarding the three completed Air India Dreamliners that were supposed to be delivered as of last month but sit on the flight line of the Boeing South Carolina campus in North Charleston. Boeing and Air India spokesmen have been mum, and other reports quoted an unnamed Indian official saying government approval is still pending.
Speaking from Farnborough last week, Gov. Nikki Haley reported promising meetings with Boeing suppliers but not yet any closed deals.
Asked about the Air India holding pattern, Haley seemed to be hearing a different kind of rumor.
“Everything that I hear on that is that it’s going smoothly,” she said. “We’re going to see that Indian plane come out.”
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 or firstname.lastname@example.org.