The final reminders of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s turbulent early days will soon be gone.
For more than a half decade, a fleet of early-production Dreamliners dubbed the “terrible teens” have been in limbo, waiting for a buyer to put them into service.
They’re called the “terrible teens” because many of the nonconforming aircraft were between the 10th and 20th Dreamliners built.
According to the Puget Sound Business Journal‘s Steve Wilhelm, as of a recent Boeing’s investors conference in May, the company still had an inventory of 12 “terrible teen” planes.
But Boeing executives confirmed to Business Insider on Wednesday that all of “teens” have been sold and will be delivered over the next two years.
Boeing declined to reveal who picked up the last of them.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is one of the most advanced commercial aircraft ever built. That’s saying a lot when you consider that the company conjured up the game-changing 747 jumbo jet in 16 months.
Unfortunately for Boeing, the 787 program was beset by technical problems that delayed the debut of the plane by more than three years. The “terrible teens” were some of the first Dreamliners to roll off of Boeing’s production line at a time when the company had not quite completed the development process of the plane.
As a result, these planes require significant modifications, including heavy structural reinforcement that make the “teens” much heavier than the current versions of the 787.
- Flickr/Jun Seita
Some estimate that the modifications needed to make the “teens” serviceable as commercial airliners would cut as much as 1,150 miles off the Dreamliner’s advertised range of 8,500 miles. That’s not good when your plane’s greatest selling point is its fuel economy and range.
Even with range limitations, the performance of the “teens” has been good enough for some airline customers. Ethiopian Airlines and Air Austral are just two of the carriers that have bought the “terrible teens” airplanes.
That said, it’s almost certain that the airlines received massive discounts on the 787-8’s $224 million sticker price.
At the same time, many of the “teens” have been funneled into ultra-high-end executive-jet duty because such customers are generally less demanding in terms of fuel burn, range, and unit revenue.
The state-0f-the-art Dreamliner first flew in 2009 and entered commercial service with launch customer All Nippon Airways in 2011. Even though the plane was grounded by federal regulators in 2013 because of a series of fires in its lithium-ion battery pack, the Dreamliner has managed to overcome many of its teething troubles.