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Why Launch Customer?

Sun Feb 15, 2004 8:14 pm


With all the speculation on who is going to be the launch customer of the 7E7 I was wondering why airlines actually would want to be first?!

Surely there are a few problems with the first planes made, the airline adjusting to a new type, crew training, having no experience/data's from other airlines, performance questions etc etc.

Is the financial reward from the manufacturer really that great or is it more the prestige connected with being launch customer that counts?? If it's the financial reward surely a few of the American airlines - UA/AA/DL - would be interested in launching the 7E7 as they would get new planes for a low price....

Also how many planes does it take to become launch customer - surely it has to be a substantial order....

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RE: Why Launch Customer?

Sun Feb 15, 2004 8:17 pm

It's bloody good advertising, you can probably secure a cheaper rate, but - and it's a big but - you probably take the biggest risks.
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RE: Why Launch Customer?

Mon Feb 16, 2004 1:57 am

If I'm not mistaken, the launch customer(s) usually have more of a say in the design process of the aircraft.
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RE: Why Launch Customer?

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:09 pm

How big an order does it take to become the launch customer and get a say in the design??
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RE: Why Launch Customer?

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:31 pm

Actually, being a launch customer in these days is not as risky an experience as you might imagine. Any question on that; just ask the launch customers of the 777 and A340-500 and 600 families. These aircraft proved outstanding from the beginning and those who played a role in the "launch" got to have a big say in the design of these planes. On that note, one gets to have the prestige of being "the first."

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RE: Why Launch Customer?

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:37 pm

Well, the potential launch customers for the 7E7 have persuaded Boeing to develop a short range "base" model, that will include a modified wing (smaller).

I don't think there is a simple number associated with being a launch customer, that can sway a design, but the potential for future orders that that customer brings to the table. Boeing would certainly want to launch the 7E7 with those airlines that are perceived as industry leaders, vs losing enterprises. This gives both the financial and industry markets confidence in the product. I doubt any one airline will order 50 airframes in one go (less emirates). Most would like to take delivery of 10 or so, and see how it operates, with follow on orders, if it works as advertised.

Would Boeing call a small airline a launch customer, sure. Would they make an industrial launch without some considerable interest by the major airline players, doubtfully.
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RE: Why Launch Customer?

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:54 pm

Why would any airline want to be first?

Monetary reasons aside, the airlines realize that if they don't step up to "share" the risk of a new product/airliner, then they will not be flying anything new, except derivatives.

There must be a mutual trust between the manufacturer and the customer. The customer in that the plane will fly as advertised, the manufacturer in that the airline will be there to take delivery and work through the problems associated with a new plane.

Would Boeing want Virgin as a launch customer, doubtfully, after what happened with the A340-600.
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RE: Why Launch Customer?

Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:58 pm

Took the words right out of my mouth, Pearson. Launch customer probably gets the best deals on the aircraft, but takes the biggest risks since they must bear the burden of being the first to operate a commercial flight with the aircraft. The advantage of not being a launch customer is that you can make the best decisions on the aircraft you buy by observing their performance and success. Comparisons can be made more easily for the followers than the initiators.
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