The Boeing 787 Dreamliner:
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, currently in development and early production, will be Boeing's most fuel-efficient plane, and the world's first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction. The name Dreamliner was chosen in July 2003 when Boeing held a 'Name Your Plane' sweepstakes, during which over 500,000 votes were counted. The initial front runner was the name Global Cruiser which was later beaten by the Dreamliner.
Ethiopian Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Boeing 787 Dreamliner cockpit
Boeing 787 Dreamliner tail
The 787 is a long range, mid-sized, twin-engine aircraft. The longest range variant can fly between 8,000 and 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,700 km), and will have a cruising airspeed of Mach 0.85. With a height of 55 ft 6 in (16.9 m), the 787-3 has a wingspan of 170 ft 6 in (52.0 m), while the 787-8 and 787-9 have wingspans of 197 ft 3 in (60.1 m). Furthermore the Dreamliner has a service ceiling of 43,000 ft (13,100 m).
For extra efficiency the new electrical architecture of the Dreamliner replaces traditional bleed air and hydraulic power sources, and completely eliminates pneumatics and hydraulics from some subsystems. An active gust alleviation system will improve ride quality during turbulence.
The 787 Dreamliner will be approximately 80% composite by volume. Each 787 contains approximately 35 short tons of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, (made with 23 tons of carbon fiber), which has a higher strength to weight ratio than traditional aircraft materials. Composites are used on the fuselage, wings, tail, doors, and interior of the Dreamliner.
Drawing praise and criticism Boeing chose to produce the 787 in an
unconventional manner. Instead of building an aircraft from the ground
up, Boeing subcontracted the manufacturing of their aircraft components
to other companies around the world.
The 787's central wing box comes from Japan, the horizontal stabilizers come from Italy, the passenger doors, wiring, and landing gear come from France, the cargo, access, and crew escape doors come from Sweden, and the floor beams come from India. To help bring these components together, Boeing uses modified 747-400's to transport parts, which are called Dreamlifters.
Final assembly of the 787 employs a maximum of 1,200 people to integrate systems and join the already completed subassemblies which have been delivered from around the world.
The first 787 Dreamliner was ceremoniously rolled out on July 8th 2007, (7/8/07), and Boeing intended for it to make it's first flight by the end of August. Unfortunately the aircraft systems hadn't been installed yet, and Boeing's subcontractors began to face problems procuring the necessary parts and performing their assigned subassemblies on schedule. To expedite delivery and production, the remaining assembly work that their subcontractors were unable to do was left for for Boeing to complete as 'traveled work'.
On September 5th 2007, Boeing announced the first of many delays, blaming a shortage of flight fasteners and incomplete software. On October 10th 2007, Boeing announced a three month delay to the 787's first flight, and a six month delay on deliveries attributed to problems with the foreign and domestic supply chain and lack of documentation. On January 16th, 2008, Boeing announced another three-month delay to the first flight, citing insufficient progress on 'traveled work'.
Following three more delays, Boeing announced on June 15th 2009 at the Paris Air show, that the 787 Dreamliner would make it's first flight within two weeks. Unfortunately on June 23rd they postponed the first flight once again so they could reinforce an area within the side body section of the aircraft.
(In this photo: Boeing 787 during taxi tests at Everett)
Finally, on December 15th 2009, the first Boeing 787 took off from
Snohomish County Airport in Everett, Washington at 10:27 am PST, and
landed at Boeing Field in King County, Washington at 1:35 pm PST. The
maiden test flight of the Dreamliner was shortened unexpectedly due to
Things have been looking better for Boeing recently. On April 23rd 2010 a 787 was delivered to a hangar at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for extreme weather testing, and on September 1st 2010, a Dreamliner landed at Keflavik in Iceland to begin a week long trial of test landings under heavy wind conditions.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is scheduled to enter passenger service with All Nippon Airways in 2011.