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787F? Military Transport/tanker?  
User currently offlineG5 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 21 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3012 times:

With all the hype surrounding last weekend's unveiling of the 787, it got me thinking. If the economics are so much better vs. the 767, why hasn't Boeing considered a pure freighter option for this aircraft (787F model). It would seem only logical to consider this given the recent orders for larger twin engine freighters (767 & A330 models). Are they waiting to see if airlines prefer one model to another for the final design proposals? Are they waiting for new technologies or designs as they did when offering the 777F (based on the 777-200LR platform)?

On top of this, why hasn't Boeing offered a military option for the USAF, instead of trying to sell them an updated version of a 20+ year old design to meet the refueling and transport needs of the air force for the next 30 years? It doesn't make sense. It would seem a logical progression to go with an, if you will, KC-787 vs. the 767 platform. Any ideas as to why this hasn't been considered? Is Boeing skeptical of their design or are there other factors which 'prevent' the 787 from being used as either a pure freighter or tanker/transport?

17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKhobar From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 2379 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2988 times:

Quoting G5 (Thread starter):
why hasn't Boeing considered a pure freighter option for this aircraft (787F model)

Not sure why you think Boeing hasn't considered this.

Quoting G5 (Thread starter):
On top of this, why hasn't Boeing offered a military option for the USAF, instead of trying to sell them an updated version of a 20+ year old design to meet the refueling and transport needs of the air force for the next 30 years? It doesn't make sense.

Boeing had stated that the 787 was unsuitable as a tanker. They have since been talking about the possibility of creating a tanker from that platform, so who knows.

The 767 may be a 20+ year old design, but it's a proven, reliable design that is already a tanker and meets the needs to a tee. Why change?


User currently offlineAtmx2000 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4576 posts, RR: 37
Reply 2, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2976 times:

Quoting G5 (Thread starter):
On top of this, why hasn't Boeing offered a military option for the USAF, instead of trying to sell them an updated version of a 20+ year old design to meet the refueling and transport needs of the air force for the next 30 years? It doesn't make sense. It would seem a logical progression to go with an, if you will, KC-787 vs. the 767 platform. Any ideas as to why this hasn't been considered? Is Boeing skeptical of their design or are there other factors which 'prevent' the 787 from being used as either a pure freighter or tanker/transport?

Freight airlines aren't willing to pay the prices passenger airlines are willing to except for special situations such as large payload (volume and/or weight) and specialized capabilities. If you can saturate production capacity with passenger models, why bother with the freighter variant early on. Early freighter versions would require the same thing that a -10 would, greater production capacity.



ConcordeBoy is a twin supremacist!! He supports quadicide!!
User currently offlineFuturecaptain From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2930 times:

Well, if the USAF wants the 787 they will have to wait till the middle of next decade since airlines are scooping them up. Boeing can build the 767 for them right away and it would keep the line open even longer for Boeing.
The 767 is a proven design with a worldwide support network which can keep the USAF flying for a long time.


User currently offlineTrex8 From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 4883 posts, RR: 14
Reply 4, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2919 times:
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Quoting Khobar (Reply 1):
Boeing had stated that the 787 was unsuitable as a tanker. They have since been talking about the possibility of creating a tanker from that platform, so who knows.

I think what they said was special military versions eg sigint/elint would be very difficult to close to impossible to do as they have so many antennas/fairings which need to be made on the airframe and that would entail significant cutouts of the composite barrel fuselage and potential structural problems. A tanker may be more doable if they are sufiicient numbers to justify a unique barrel but the specialized military versions are probably out. Of course the military seem to be going for dual use platforms so tankers etc may well have to double as fancy electronic platforms also in the future would would not bode well for a tanker variant of the 787.


User currently offlineKhobar From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 2379 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 2845 times:

Quoting Trex8 (Reply 4):
I think what they said was special military versions eg sigint/elint would be very difficult to close to impossible to do as they have so many antennas/fairings which need to be made on the airframe and that would entail significant cutouts of the composite barrel fuselage and potential structural problems. A tanker may be more doable if they are sufiicient numbers to justify a unique barrel but the specialized military versions are probably out. Of course the military seem to be going for dual use platforms so tankers etc may well have to double as fancy electronic platforms also in the future would would not bode well for a tanker variant of the 787.

I found this, for what it's worth -

"When the 787 was launched three years ago, Albaugh suggested it was unlikely the new jetliner would be suited to tanker duty, given its focus on achieving unprecedented levels of efficiency. Achieving the aim of producing a civil jet 20 percent more efficient than any competitor’s aircraft ensured that the plane couldn’t carry any additional weight that might make it easier to covert for military missions, like aerial refueling, sometime in the future."

http://defensenews.com/paris/story.php?F=2839724

I don't doubt that at least part of the reason for saying the 787 is unsuitable is because Boeing wants to sell them the 767 instead. Boeing is more likely to make money on a 767 deal given the fixed profit margins in military contracts and the lack of unknowns.


User currently offlineZvezda From Lithuania, joined Aug 2004, 10511 posts, RR: 64
Reply 6, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 2792 times:

Someday there almost certainly will be a 787F, but I would be very surprised if it were launched before 2012. Ample reasons why have been stated above. Boeing have stated that there will be multiple future 787 models including the 787-10. Other possibilities include ER models and a 787-11, but none are more likely than a 787F.

User currently offlineAtmx2000 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4576 posts, RR: 37
Reply 7, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 2772 times:

Quoting Zvezda (Reply 6):
Boeing have stated that there will be multiple future 787 models including the 787-10.

I don't think they have said there would be multiple future models. A double stretch is all they have said will happen. They have previously indicated that they did not want to create ER/LR models. Though if they don't do a higher MTOW -10, an ER model seems likely.

Quoting Khobar (Reply 5):
Achieving the aim of producing a civil jet 20 percent more efficient than any competitor’s aircraft ensured that the plane couldn’t carry any additional weight that might make it easier to covert for military missions, like aerial refueling, sometime in the future."

I'm not sure what they mean by this. Are they suggesting that items like a boom would somehow stress the frame in a way that the frame won't tolerate.



ConcordeBoy is a twin supremacist!! He supports quadicide!!
User currently offlineZvezda From Lithuania, joined Aug 2004, 10511 posts, RR: 64
Reply 8, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 2743 times:

Quoting Atmx2000 (Reply 7):
I don't think they have said there would be multiple future models.

Yes, Boeing did. It was a few weeks ago. Sorry I didn't save the link.


User currently offlineCanadianNorth From Canada, joined Aug 2002, 3395 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 2741 times:

On a related note, How difficult would it be to carve a cargo door into the composite 787 vs a "normal" fuselage? I was thinking that many airliners are built as pax planes, fly as pax planes for a decade or two, and then get converted to a freighter by adding a cargo door, strengthening the floor, etc. Would this be an issue with the way the 787 is constructed?


CanadianNorth



What could possibly go wrong?
User currently offlineXT6Wagon From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 3432 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 2662 times:

Why Boeing doesn't sell the military a 787 for anything is that they have a mature platform far superior to current USAF inventory that has 95% of the R&D for ANY application they might want already done.

The reason the military doesn't WANT a 787 right now is they want minimum risk, which means mature platforms that have seen a decade or so of refinement and technology maturation. They simply don't have the budget right now to play guessing games on EVERY program, so things that can be built on a civil airliner platform need to be as close to risk free as possible.

My assumption is that Boeing will spend some time and some money in a couple of years (just after the KC767 is out the door) having the tanker program people poke around the 787 to get their thoughts on costs and risks for a KC787. If the risk is low enough and the cost of design is low enough, look for Boeing to toss a KC787 out for 1st delivery whenever the last ordered KC767 for the USAF is delivered. I assume this will be well after 2015 in any event, and done to reduce the number of programs running at the same time, and to save costs on the per-frame side of production.

So lets call the possibility of the KC787 for 2017-2018 at the soonest. It assumes that Boeing either finds weight to remove, or MTOW growth happens in that time frame. Failing the payload increase, I would assume that the KC777 would be picked up to replace KC-10's on the next round of USAF tanker orders.


User currently offlineWingedMigrator From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 2260 posts, RR: 56
Reply 11, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2590 times:

Quoting Zvezda (Reply 6):
Boeing have stated that there will be multiple future 787 models including the 787-10. Other possibilities include ER models and a 787-11, but none are more likely than a 787F.

If the MTOW increases, so does the likelihood of a 787F. Boeing will need a solid product to compete with the A359F, and a heavier 787F would be perfect.

Quoting XT6Wagon (Reply 10):
whenever the last ordered KC767 for the USAF is delivered

Isn't there still the minor formality of awarding the program, or do you flat out assume the KC30 is out of the running? That is your prerogative, but at least state your assumptions.


User currently offlineXT6Wagon From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 3432 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2557 times:

Quoting WingedMigrator (Reply 11):
Isn't there still the minor formality of awarding the program, or do you flat out assume the KC30 is out of the running? That is your prerogative, but at least state your assumptions.

You think the KC30 has a chance with the bush administration? Never mind the KC767 actualy fits the USAF's needs better. It would have had a good run if A. Bush wasn't president, and B. it was to replace the KC-10. As it is the KC767 is a far better fit for a KC-135 replacement.


User currently offlineZvezda From Lithuania, joined Aug 2004, 10511 posts, RR: 64
Reply 13, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 2513 times:

Quoting CanadianNorth (Reply 9):
How difficult would it be to carve a cargo door into the composite 787 vs a "normal" fuselage? I was thinking that many airliners are built as pax planes, fly as pax planes for a decade or two, and then get converted to a freighter by adding a cargo door, strengthening the floor, etc. Would this be an issue with the way the 787 is constructed?

Converting a pax 787 to a 787F could certainly be done but reinforcing the cargo door area would render it somewhat heavier than a newly built 787F. The strength and weight can be better optimized during the original build than by adding layers late in life.


User currently offlineJbernie From Australia, joined Jan 2007, 880 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2485 times:

Quoting CanadianNorth (Reply 9):
On a related note, How difficult would it be to carve a cargo door into the composite 787 vs a "normal" fuselage? I was thinking that many airliners are built as pax planes, fly as pax planes for a decade or two, and then get converted to a freighter by adding a cargo door, strengthening the floor, etc. Would this be an issue with the way the 787 is constructed?

Later in life based on what we can do now, not the most ideal conversion if even viable, doing a 787F on the other hand as an actual model, i will make an assumption here, they would make a different/special section of the fusalage with a wider door opening etc and it would just replace the normal section.

Something of interest, a standard F model fusalage (non military) might actually be quite easy for B. as they do not need to deal with cutting window holes etc etc so the manufacturing should be simpler, again assuming that doing a solid section without windows does not require any major retooling to cope with a lack of windows.

However, i guess there is a cost issue, how many companies that do cargo in any form, would actually drop say $100m or so for a brand new 787F? I mean it isn't unusual to buy new freighers as we have the 747F line at the moment, but conversions seem unlikely right now, so you would need to go new.

Regardless, this is certainly an intgeresting subject given the composite body and all. Very interesting to see what the future holds.


User currently offlineAirSpare From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 589 posts, RR: 6
Reply 15, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2400 times:

Quoting Khobar (Reply 1):
The 767 may be a 20+ year old design, but it's a proven, reliable design that is already a tanker and meets the needs to a tee. Why change?

A very good argument can be made to state, the needs have been made to fit the 767 to a tee. I would rather seee a mixed fleet then a less capable fleet purchased. Does anyone know when the KC-10s are due to be retired?



Get someone else for your hero worship fetish
User currently offlineXT6Wagon From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 3432 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 2275 times:

Quoting AirSpare (Reply 15):
A very good argument can be made to state, the needs have been made to fit the 767 to a tee

Actually you CAN'T make that argument since the requirement is effectively a very simple one

1. Best replacement for our KC135 fleet.
2. If all options for 1 suck, Best program to keep the KC135 in the air until 1 has a valid contender.

The KC767 strangely fits the KC135 replacement much better. Oh wait thats because its closest in size, while being vastly superior in all aspects that they can hope for.


User currently offlineEBJ1248650 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 1932 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2137 times:

Quoting CanadianNorth (Reply 9):
On a related note, How difficult would it be to carve a cargo door into the composite 787 vs a "normal" fuselage? I was thinking that many airliners are built as pax planes, fly as pax planes for a decade or two, and then get converted to a freighter by adding a cargo door, strengthening the floor, etc. Would this be an issue with the way the 787 is constructed?


CanadianNorth

I suspect a cargo version of the 787 will have to be a new build item, rather than a conversion, but I might be wrong.



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