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TurboJet707
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The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:54 am

The agony of the A380 project made me think about the fashion of using the number '8' in aircraft names. I believe the idea behind this fashion was that '8' counts as a lucky number in some Asian cultures and it was thought that an '8' in the type number could increase the aircraft type's appeal to Asian customers (I can't imagine that this would ever play a role when it comes to a decision whether or not to buy a certain aircraft type. Yes, the airline executives do certainly look at the numbers very closely but this does not apply to the numbers in the type’s name...)

The first (and with hindsight, only) Airbus A380 subtype to be introduced wasn't called A380-100, as one might expect, but Airbus decided to jump straight to A380-800, in line with this fashion.
Technically, the plane is a success, being loved by passengers and having an immaculate safety record and good dispatch reliability rate, but unfortunately, it failed from a commercial point of view, as we've seen.

For the Boeing 747-8, the 8 wasn't a lucky number either, as the sales are very disappointing, especially for the Intercontinental version.

Then the Convair CV880 comes to mind, which was a commercial disaster with just 65 frames sold (its successor, the CV990, did even worse with just 37 built). It pushed Convair out of the civil jet market.
The name ‘CV880’ was a bit far-fetched in my eyes, with ‘880’ referring to the claimed top speed of 880 feet per second. Before sticking with “CV880”, Convair considered calling the plane “Skylark” first, then “Golden Arrow” and later “600”. Neither of those would have helped sales, I’m afraid. A fascinating plane, nevertheless.

The Douglas DC8 wasn't a complete failure, with 556 sales, but its relatively late arrival to the marked allowed Boeing to take over the leading position in the civil aviation industry with their Model 707, never allowing Douglas to take this back. The DC8 programme was saved (more or less) relatively late in its life by the introduction of the Super Sixties series. Of the earlier ‘short’ DC8s, less than 300 were built. One can say that the DC8 marked the start of Douglas’ demise which was only accelerated by the McDonnell merger. In the DC8’s case, the ‘8’ was just the next number in line after the DC7, of course.

The A330-800 is another sad story. The only customer for the type cancelled its order and switched to the Boeing 787.

And that brings me to the 787, which is now of course an incredible success, but it had an extremely difficult start. Boeing jumped straight to 787-8 as the first version. The 788 sold 444 copies, of which 360 are delivered, which is of course quite good, but the subtype is now being overshadowed by the 789.

And yes, there are exceptions, like the 737-800 and the DHC-8 (now living on as Q400) which sold very well, but these got their name because it was just the next in line after 737-700 and DHC-7. So that doesn't count ;)

So now that it has been demonstrated that the 8 is not a lucky number when it comes to aircraft sales, can we please get back to starting the series with –100 or -1? :)
 
steman
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:06 am

Luck has nothing to do with anything because it´s not a quantifiable entity and it does not affect events or outcomes. It´s existence is debatable at least.
And according to your own exhaustive list, the number 8 has been associated with many different kind of airplanes. Some had success, some didn´t (or had less). That´s enough for me to say that the number 8 has nothing to do with the outcome of an aviation project.
 
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TurboJet707
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:41 am

Yes, I agree with you. I always thought it was silly to pay attention to 'lucky numbers' in an industry where nobody cares about things like that.
I just thought it was good fun to show with some historic examples that 'lucky numbers' don't sell planes... And that the manufacturers might as well go back to logical designations like -100, -200 etc.

Now that I think of it, I could have brought up the A350-800 too!
 
codc10
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:49 am

I too find it silly that “-8/00” seems to be the base variant for the most recent A/B widebody programs.
 
oldannyboy
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:06 am

codc10 wrote:
I too find it silly that “-8/00” seems to be the base variant for the most recent A/B widebody programs.


Yeah me too. Totally stupid thing to appease the Chinese.
Glad to see it bit back really hard with the A380-800 and the 747-8.
 
c933103
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:13 am

It should be noted that the lucky meaning of 8 in Chinese is in term of financial sense, so maybe those models are numbered as such because manufacturers want the number bring more money to themselves (and end up getting opposite).
When no other countries around the world is going to militarily stop China and its subordinate fom abusing its citizens within its national boundary, it is unreasonable to expect those abuse can be countered with purely peaceful means.
 
BubbaYugga
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:24 am

On the flip side, 4 has the smell of death about it, and only 3 Q400s operated for a time with Chang An.
4005 jumped the chocks during an engine run and plowed into a terminal building.
4006 and 4039 were picked up "for a song" but found to be cursed by Horizon's maintainers and were parted out soon after.
 
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Francoflier
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:18 pm

Funny, I was thinking about the same topic yesterday.

I, too, have always found it ridiculous that manufacturers started favoring the number 8 in all its flavors for the sake of attracting the Asian (mostly Chinese) customers.
In a way, I'm almost glad it only turned out bringing them bad luck so that they can stop with the ridiculous nomenclature to kowtow to a specific region and culture.

Not that the Chinese would have cared in the end anyway. They haven't even used the number 8 for any of their own designs...

I hate that World is being taken over by marketeers, especially engineering companies.
I'll do my own airline. With Blackjack. And hookers. In fact, forget the airline.
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:44 pm

BubbaYugga wrote:
On the flip side, 4 has the smell of death about it, and only 3 Q400s operated for a time with Chang An.
4005 jumped the chocks during an engine run and plowed into a terminal building.
4006 and 4039 were picked up "for a song" but found to be cursed by Horizon's maintainers and were parted out soon after.

What?
The common theme is Chang An, Q400, and MSNs in the 4xxx series.

Except two of those things are related; Isn't it the case that all Q400s have MSNs in the 4xxx series?

Which means there are another 581 Q400s that have not been this unlucky.
(apart from the ones that suffered undercarriage failures...)

4006 and 4039 were picked up "for a song" but found to be cursed by Horizon's maintainers
I'm sure you know what you meant, but it threw me for quite a while.
I now realize that these Q400s were not "cursed by Horizon's maintenance crews". :lol:
Altogether I'm having a bad day because I was also thrown by the photo of 4005 transiting thro' Malta, with a caption noting that the a/c jumped chocks and was damaged, without bothering to mention that this was days later, and thousands of miles away in China. :banghead:

Chang An owned 4006 & 4039 from new (2001), passed them on to Horizon (2006) who operated them until 2012.
Were they the only Q400s retired by Horizon at that point in time? Or part of a larger fleet rationalization?

The story behind 4005 is particularly odd. Originally it was a very early white tail production test a/c, subsequently sold to Chang An.
After 2 years in service, it was photographed at Luqa (Malta) on it's way back to China, presumably after some heavy maintenance work at Downsview (?)
Immediately on it's return to China, somehow they accidentally wrote it off. Truly bizarre.

Finally, back to your premise that "4" is unlucky; Here is Air Baltic's YL-BBV, aka MSN 4444 :rotfl:
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
Bricktop
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:58 pm

oldannyboy wrote:
codc10 wrote:
I too find it silly that “-8/00” seems to be the base variant for the most recent A/B widebody programs.


Yeah me too. Totally stupid thing to appease the Chinese.
Glad to see it bit back really hard with the A380-800 and the 747-8.

Yeah, how did that sucking up to the Chinese work out? CA bought a whole 7 747-8s and CZ a whopping 5 A388s.
Both OEMs would have been better off sitting on their wallets when the marketing blah blah started.
 
Ziyulu
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:31 pm

Too bad they should have kept the 8 in economy seating. 8 abreast in a 787 would have been awesome!
 
mxaxai
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:26 pm

TurboJet707 wrote:
Now that I think of it, I could have brought up the A350-800 too!

Yup, immediately after reading your post I thought "wait, he forgot the still-born A350-800"!

Some more 8's ...

For Airbus, its second '8' came with the A318. Uncompetitive against both its larger siblings and large RJs, it only sold 80 times.
The first Airbus '8' was actually the A340-8000, a longer-range version of the A340-200 with 8000 nm range (or so ...), hence the name. Only one was built, and it took a whole decade to get it sold.

For the Fokker F28, the number was likely not due to marketing, since it was the next aircraft after the F27. While it was a good plane and actually sold relatively well for its time, it wasn't a sales hit either.

The LearJet 85 was cancelled during flight testing. Earlier, back in 2982, only 5 Learjet 28 had been built.
 
Oykie
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:31 pm

I believe the 8 and luck have been exaggerated in aviation forums and by aviation fans. I remember Airbus said of the A380 that the number 8 was used to show that the A380 was twice the size as the A340. And the 8 was also chosen as it would signal a double deck configuration. It was much later that the 8 was used to being hyped up as a lucky number. IIRC correctly someone used that first for the 787-8.
Dream no small dream; it lacks magic. Dream large, then go make that dream real - Donald Douglas
 
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aerolimani
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:40 pm

I've always thought it was just a nod to Asian culture. More of an acknowledgement that Asian airlines are important customers.

I bought a ticket some years ago when AC was running a promotion; western Canada to Beijing for $888 return. I'm pretty sure the low price was the driving factor in sales, and not the quantity of eights. But again, it was a clear acknowledgement of AC's Asian customers.
 
Austin787
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:20 pm

I think it's clear the usage of '8' has no influence on aircraft sales. Thought it was strange for Airbus and Boeing to focus on appealing to Asian market, when they are global manufacturers marketing to all countries.

BubbaYugga wrote:
On the flip side, 4 has the smell of death about it, and only 3 Q400s operated for a time with Chang An.
4005 jumped the chocks during an engine run and plowed into a terminal building.
4006 and 4039 were picked up "for a song" but found to be cursed by Horizon's maintainers and were parted out soon after.

On the flip side, the use of '4' (an unlucky number in many Asia countries) isn't necessarily a deal breaker for selling aircraft. The 747, including the 747-400, sold well. Plenty of Asian airlines have operated 747-400s.
 
77H
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:46 am

I thought I read once the -8/9/X designations were supposed to give the impression of a well developed, matured aircraft line.

It plays against the idea that a -1/100 or -2/200 would likely be the first iteration of an aircraft family line and thus, likely under-developed.

Both Airbus and Boeing have been doing this for decades. Looking at Boeing specifically all of their aircraft family lines since the 747 have started with -200. Boeing took it a step further with the 787 and started the line at -8 to give the impressive of a more matured family line.

77H
 
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monomojo
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:10 am

oldannyboy wrote:
codc10 wrote:
I too find it silly that “-8/00” seems to be the base variant for the most recent A/B widebody programs.


Yeah me too. Totally stupid thing to appease the Chinese.
Glad to see it bit back really hard with the A380-800 and the 747-8.


Why would it bother you so much? It costs the OEMs (and you) nothing to slip an 8 into the model number, and thus the potential payoff if it does get them a few sales it wouldn't otherwise is massive.
 
ELBOB
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:30 am

77H wrote:
Looking at Boeing specifically all of their aircraft family lines since the 747 have started with -200.


The 757, 767 and 777 all had shorter -100 variants. The first two were actually offered to the market at the launch of those programs but not taken-up. The 777-100X was touted in 2000 but again didn't find buyers.
 
DarthLobster
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:37 am

Who wouldn't want to order the 8oe8us AB888-MAX8neo-800.......-8
 
speedbird52
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:37 am

ELBOB wrote:
77H wrote:
Looking at Boeing specifically all of their aircraft family lines since the 747 have started with -200.


The 757, 767 and 777 all had shorter -100 variants. The first two were actually offered to the market at the launch of those programs but not taken-up. The 777-100X was touted in 2000 but again didn't find buyers.

Were concept drawings of those planes ever released?
 
Doublecatered
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:49 am

Im going to throw a spanner in the works here...Now stay with me....
No one can argue that the Boeing 737 was/is a massive success for Boeing.
Now if you add 7 + 3 + 7 you get 17
1+7 = 8

Maybe the Chinese were right after all ;)))
 
77H
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:04 am

speedbird52 wrote:
ELBOB wrote:
77H wrote:
Looking at Boeing specifically all of their aircraft family lines since the 747 have started with -200.


The 757, 767 and 777 all had shorter -100 variants. The first two were actually offered to the market at the launch of those programs but not taken-up. The 777-100X was touted in 2000 but again didn't find buyers.

Were concept drawings of those planes ever released?


The -100 variants of those aircraft lines never left the drawing board hence, all those models started at -200.

77H
 
aeropix
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:18 am

I agree with the OP. I find it irritating and disingenuous that the “1st” iteration of all these new models starts with a fictional “high series number”.

The first version should be “-1” or “-100” the second version “-2” and so on. I applaud Airbus for having an “A220-100” I find that to have a refreshing breath of honesty to it.
 
Noshow
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:32 am

The number "8" was meant to be some asian lucky number. That is correct as the basic idea.
Airbus said that the A380 "8" visually stood for the double decker as well. (A for Airbus and 3 for all their commercial programs).
IIRC Boeing used the "8" not only on the 787 (logical step after the 777) but as a number to indicate the general range in thousands of miles. Like 787-8 with 8000NM range. 787-3 with 3000 NM range.
 
reltney
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:32 pm

MD-88, MD-80, MD-82,MD-83 were very successful .... DC-8 was sucessful as mentioned.
Knives don't kill people. People with knives kill people.
OUTLAW KNIVES.

I am a pilot, therefore I envy no one...
 
oldannyboy
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:57 am

monomojo wrote:
oldannyboy wrote:
codc10 wrote:
I too find it silly that “-8/00” seems to be the base variant for the most recent A/B widebody programs.


Yeah me too. Totally stupid thing to appease the Chinese.
Glad to see it bit back really hard with the A380-800 and the 747-8.


Why would it bother you so much? It costs the OEMs (and you) nothing to slip an 8 into the model number, and thus the potential payoff if it does get them a few sales it wouldn't otherwise is massive.


Because it does. It annoys me greatly when marketing people have to push something really totally stupid in order to appease a specific culture or demographic.
 
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JannEejit
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:27 am

I always found it strange that the manufacturers started with designation '100' or '200' etc. When those weren't the 100th or 200th variation of the aircraft ? Why not (for example) the 737-1 or A320-2 etc? Presumably it was to create a false impression of volume ? I recall reading that when the Nazi party was formed in 1930's Germany, the membership cards started with member '100' not '1' for similar reasons.
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:03 am

JannEejit wrote:
I always found it strange that the manufacturers started with designation '100' or '200' etc. When those weren't the 100th or 200th variation of the aircraft ? Why not (for example) the 737-1 or A320-2 etc? Presumably it was to create a false impression of volume ? I recall reading that when the Nazi party was formed in 1930's Germany, the membership cards started with member '100' not '1' for similar reasons.

Have you never heard of Boeing customer codes?
This is the original sequence.
21 Pan Am
22 United
23 AA
24 Continental
..
36 BOAC / BA
..
64 Mexicana
..
98 Air Zaire

Hence LH flew
Boeing 707-330 and 707-430
Boeing 727-30, -130, -230
Boeing 737-130, -230, -330, -530,
Boeing 747-130, -230, -430, -830
(if I've missed any, bite me!)

Airbus have their own system based on engine type, and that also requires three digits.

Anybody else (er, who else is there?) is just following the pattern.
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
UpNAWAy
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 2:58 pm

The whole model naming system is silly now IMHO. Its far more about marketing and branding than about any kind of logical sequencing or information.

I keep waiting for some kind of redo by the OEMs. I think they way over think it right now.
 
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DrPaul
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:08 pm

And then, when starting with 8 or 800, what happens when there's a third variant? We get 10 or 1000, which messes up the ICAO numbering system with the B78X and A35K.

Hopefully, this silly fad will pass.

JannEejit wrote:
I recall reading that when the Nazi party was formed in 1930's Germany, the membership cards started with member '100' not '1' for similar reasons.


That's nearly right: the organisation that became the Nazi party, the German Workers Party, started its membership at number 501, to make out that it was a bigger group than it was; Hitler was member no 555. It's an old trick: a work colleague years back worked for a small company that had just one delivery van, which it prominently numbered 59, so that when it visited places people might think that the firm had a big fleet of vans.
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:07 pm

DrPaul wrote:
JannEejit wrote:
I recall reading that when the Nazi party was formed in 1930's Germany, the membership cards started with member '100' not '1' for similar reasons.

That's nearly right: the organisation that became the Nazi party, the German Workers Party, started its membership at number 501, to make out that it was a bigger group than it was; Hitler was member no 555.

Shouldn't he have been no 666? :twisted:

It's an old trick: a work colleague years back worked for a small company that had just one delivery van, which it prominently numbered 59, so that when it visited places people might think that the firm had a big fleet of vans.
:lol:

I once had to re-index an entire database.
The system originally started with case number A/1, and whilst it was a manual paper system, it ran ok.
When it was transferred to computer, the database sorted records so that A/10 to A/19 came before A/2, A/3, etc.

The solution was to re-index A/1 et al, so that they became A/0001, A/0002, etc

Some time later it was decided that this presentation didn't look right, and they were re-indexed all over again, starting at A/1001.
Guess who got that job too? :banghead:

By the end of it all, they didn't need a computer at all; I could recite all the records in my sleep. :cry2:
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
PixelPilot
Posts: 254
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:11 pm

mxaxai wrote:
TurboJet707 wrote:
Now that I think of it, I could have brought up the A350-800 too!

Yup, immediately after reading your post I thought "wait, he forgot the still-born A350-800"!

Some more 8's ...

For Airbus, its second '8' came with the A318. Uncompetitive against both its larger siblings and large RJs, it only sold 80 times.
The first Airbus '8' was actually the A340-8000, a longer-range version of the A340-200 with 8000 nm range (or so ...), hence the name. Only one was built, and it took a whole decade to get it sold.

For the Fokker F28, the number was likely not due to marketing, since it was the next aircraft after the F27. While it was a good plane and actually sold relatively well for its time, it wasn't a sales hit either.

The LearJet 85 was cancelled during flight testing. Earlier, back in 2982, only 5 Learjet 28 had been built.

Can you share lotto numbers for upcoming month please? :D ;)

As for the subject itself does anybody know the real reason 8 is so popular?
Is it really because of Asian culture?
 
rbavfan
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:03 pm

Always found it funny that under 1000 sales people consider the DC-8 a failure. The first passenger jet to sell over 1000 units was the 727 and it took from 1962 to 1984, 22 years works out to 83.3 per year., to do that .The DC-8 was produced for 14 years works out to 39.7 per year. more people travel today so it's hard to judge a success from decade to decade.
 
rbavfan
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:12 pm

codc10 wrote:
I too find it silly that “-8/00” seems to be the base variant for the most recent A/B widebody programs.


So far the A350-800 & A330-800 are DOA, but the A330-800 is on a life support
 
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TheFlyingDisk
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:30 pm

The 747-8 is a logical designator actually, because Boeing had proposed a 747-500X/-600X/-700X in the 1990s which could have flown had the Asian Financial Crisis not happen, taking away potential launch customers with it.

But for all the other planes that come after the 747-8, it doesn't make an iota of sense to start with the -8. Because of that we now have the ridiculous -1000 designator for the A350XWB.
I FLY KLM+ALASKA+QATAR+MALAYSIA+AIRASIA+MALINDO
 
WayexTDI
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:28 am

rbavfan wrote:
codc10 wrote:
I too find it silly that “-8/00” seems to be the base variant for the most recent A/B widebody programs.


So far the A350-800 & A330-800 are DOA, but the A330-800 is on a life support

Is the A330-800 DOA or on life support?
 
TSS
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Re: The fashionable '8' in aircraft designations

Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:06 am

TheFlyingDisk wrote:
The 747-8 is a logical designator actually, because Boeing had proposed a 747-500X/-600X/-700X in the 1990s which could have flown had the Asian Financial Crisis not happen, taking away potential launch customers with it.

Thank you!

Over the 747-400:
-500X - 18 foot stretch, 462 pax
-600X - 47 foot stretch, 548 pax
-700X - Widened fuselage, 650 pax.
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