Boeing is about to do the world premiere of its newest plane, the 787 Dreamliner. In contrast to the large, intercontinental approach Airbus took with the 380 series, Boeing decided to focus its new plane on smaller segments.
The 787-8 Dreamliner will carry 210 – 250 passengers on routes of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles (14,200 to 15,200 kilometers), while the 787-9 Dreamliner will carry 250 – 290 passengers on routes of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,750 kilometers). A third 787 family member, the 787-3 Dreamliner, will accommodate 290 – 330 passengers and be optimized for routes of 2,500 to 3,050 nautical miles (4,600 to 5,650 kilometers).
In addition to bringing big-jet ranges to mid-size airplanes, the 787 will provide airlines with unmatched fuel efficiency, resulting in exceptional environmental performance. The airplane will use 20 percent less fuel for comparable missions than today’s similarly sized airplane. It will also travel at speeds similar to today’s fastest wide bodies, Mach 0.85. Airlines will enjoy more cargo revenue capacity.
I was always intrigued by the Airbus 380, but as I’ve commented before, there’s something that bothers me about it form an engineering perspective. That is, I don’t think I’ll step on one for several years after it comes out. The Dreamliner, however, seems like a pretty smart move by Boeing, and I’m looking forward to checking it out in the next few years (although, I still haven’t been on a 777 yet).
What is also rather interesting is the brilliant advances that Boeing has made in the area of construction. Apparently you can construct an entire Boeing 787 by simply connecting six large composite pieces together. Very very cool.
I haven’t looked into the two planes in great detail, but I’m pretty sure Airbus has just been handed its hat.