Boeing Dreamliner

Last modified on July 9th, 2007

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.

2 responses to “Boeing Dreamliner”

  1. clay says:

    How can you possibly state that airbus has been handed it’s hat when they are completely different markets? I mean, Airbus may indeed have been handed it’s hat, but not by the dreamliner. That’s like saying Mack trucks has been handed it’s hat because Honda has a hybrid civic…they just don’t directly compare.

    The A-380 will have it’s issues because of itself, not because of competition; there is no competition to it. And I just gotta point out that I’m pretty sure that hundreds of millions of dollars of R & D and thousands of engineers trained specifically in aeronautics, not to mention the ability to pass regulatory examinations have probably created a safe enough aircraft…

    All in all tho, good on Boeing for creating a greener aircraft, and may the airlines phase out those decrepit old 737’s with the uncomfortable seats and lack of services.

  2. Duane Storey says:

    Well, the 787 can’t go as far as the 380, but it can still do a fairly long haul trip at 15,700 kms. Airbus announced the A380 years ago when Boeing and the industry were all talking about the 787 type of concept. Airbus completely dismissed that segment of the market and went with the 380 — the direct competitor to this is obviously the 747, although the 380 can haul more people and go a bit further. The Airbus 340 is also a competitor to the 747.

    But I mean, Airbus has been fumbling around with the A380 for years now, and Boeing has worked on the dreamliner for less time, has out engineered Airbus with the design, and will probably deliver the first plane ahead of the A380 — so yeah, I still stick by the handed their hat comment, since these are the planes both companies have been working on for the last few years.

    Let’s not also forget that Airbus recently caved into market and media pressure and quickly designed the Airbus 350 which is their response to the 787, so obviously they are trying to save face.

    And in terms of trusting engineers, as an engineer I think you should be careful with that statement. The first Airbus A380 test was failured, and the wings fractured off completely under a stress test. There have also been several occurances of composite plane materials delaminating in mid-air, and it’s very lucky that these didn’t result in major crashes. An Air Transit flight had the tail completely blow apart in mid-air a while ago. My point is composite material science is pretty new, and the engineers working on it would be the first to admit that they don’t understand all the failure modes completely.

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