The Boeing 787 Dreamliner had a wonderful first flight yesterday. It was covered by multiple media outlets and many different formats, from twitter, to standard live TV, to web feed, to even streaming video on an iPhone. Reading the forums (and even my friend’s Facebook statuses) a lot of people keep asking “why should I care?”
These are the reasons I think even non-aviation nerds might care:
* The 787 is made up of 50% composite material. I have seen people say “I would much rather fly on a metal plane than a plastic one.” The carbon fiber used in this aircraft is not like any plastic. Carbon fiber is stronger and lighter than metal and I would much rather fly in a “plastic” than “metal” plane any day. Take a look at this picture of the inside structure of a Boeing 707. All the metal panels riveted together. Notice all the additional structure needed around the windows. Compare it to the inside of the 787. The 787’s composite body is one solid structure and with fewer weak points. For example, the Boeing 747 requires about 1million holes to be drilled in its fuselage, but the 787 requires less than 10,000. (take a look at all the Boeing 707 and 787 material pictures I took at the Future of Flight)
* Boeing has designed this aircraft to bring back the joy in flying. There is revolutionary lighting and more space for people and luggage.
* The humidity level during flight will be higher, due to having composite materials that won’t rust. This will increase the comfort level for the passengers and reduce jet lag.
* Even with the delays and cancellations, there are still 840 orders for the Boeing 787.
* Due to more efficient engines and less weight, the 787 will reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by about 20%. Yet it still is able to go Mach .85, about the speed of its bigger siblings the 777 and 747.
* The aircraft has the largest windows in any passenger jetliner. This will provide a more open feel and give everyone a view to the outside. There are also no sunshades, but just a button which will cause the window to tint and block out the sun, but still have some ability to see outside.
* This plane was made to replace the highly successful Boeing 767. The 787-8 will be able to carry about 210-250 passengers around 8000 nautical miles, while the 787-9 will be able to carry 250-290 about 8250 nautical miles.
* With the 787’s range and ability to land at smaller airports, it will reduce the need for airlines to use hub systems and allow them to provide more non-stop flights. This of course lets passengers spend more time at their destination and less time getting there (however as an airline nerd, I love the process of getting there too, so maybe that is a negative for me?!) – Thanks Ian for pointing that out!
If those aren’t enough, it just looks really cool taking off with its wings flexing.
This is a very exciting time in aviation history. We just had the Boeing 787 Dreamliner take its first flight and now we wait for the Boeing 747-8 to take its first flight, which will probably be in about a month or so, which of course I will be following.