Updated date:

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner: The Future of Aviation

Boeing 787

Boeing 787

Anyone who has ever flown on an airplane is all too familiar with the cramped seating, small windows, lack of fresh air, noisy engines, and generally uncomfortable conditions that today’s aircraft all seem afflicted with.

While traveling by airplane is certainly a somewhat efficient means of transportation it is not always the most comfortable method of getting from point A to point B. Well, I am pleased to report that there is a new day dawning in the world of aviation and the new sheriff in town is called the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Designed to revolutionize the air travel experience, Boeing has literally bet the farm on the success of this newly designed, state of the art airliner that is just now entering service.

Roll-out of the 787

Roll-out of the 787

What Makes the 787 Different?

So what is the Dreamliner and what makes it so special? For starters, the 787 Dreamliner is the newest airliner to be entered into service by the Boeing Aircraft Company. The Dreamliner has incorporated breakthrough technologies into this airplane designed to improve the passenger experience while significantly lowering operating costs. How did they do it? The biggest change in this airplane comes in the material used to construct the fuselage. Where other airplanes use aluminum sheet metal to form the skin of the airplane, Boeing engineers developed a way to use a lightweight composite material. This allows for sections of the fuselage to be made in one-piece barrel sections, which eliminates the need for thousands of rivets used to assemble the old aluminum sheets. The one-piece barrel sections are then fitted together to form the entire fuselage. Using this composite material and eliminating the use of sheet metal and rivets has resulted in huge weight savings for the airplane.

The new Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine

The new Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine

Engines

In order to achieve the goal of a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption Boeing reached out to engine manufactures General Electric and Rolls Royce. Both companies responded with new engines; the GE GEnx and the RR Trent 1000. Both engines offer a significant reduction in fuel consumption as well as a reduction in noise. In addition, the use of composite materials has been extended into the engine design with the development of composite fan blades.

Also, for the first time on a commercial aircraft the engine bleed air systems have been eliminated. Bleed air systems redirect hot, high pressure air from the engines for use in a variety of functions including air conditioning and anti-ice systems. The removal of this system eliminates the process of cooling this hot air for use in the passenger cabin and allows the air conditioning system to be operated by electric power as opposed to pneumatic bleed air. The benefits of having a no-bleed design are greater fuel efficiency and lower maintenance cost as a bleed system is normally a high maintenance system.

The 787 is made of 50% composite materials by weight and this coupled with the new more fuel efficient engines combine to give the airplane a range of up to 8,500 miles. Consider for a moment just how far that is. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be able to fly non-stop from New York to Hong Kong, cruising along at Mach .85 which equates to 560 miles per hour. I find all of this simply amazing.

787 Interior

787 Interior

The Passenger Experience

All of these changes were designed to make the Dreamliner more fuel efficient and cheaper to operate and maintain. This is wonderful news if you own a Dreamliner, but how does all of this affect the passenger? Well, the attention to detail that Boeing put into the design of the airplane extends well into the interior of the plane as well. From the all new electric driven air-conditioning system to larger overhead storage bins the interior of the airplane should be much more comfortable for the passenger. With improved lighting and larger cabin windows with an auto dimming feature you will immediately notice the difference when you board a Dreamliner for the first time.

Another improvement that can’t be seen but most certainly will be felt is the cabin pressurization, which has changed to the equivalent of 6,000 feet altitude from the old standard of 8,000 feet. Couple this with an increase in the cabin humidity level to 15% from the old 4% level and travelers should no longer get that dry, raspy, scratchy throat feeling after flying. The intent of all these interior changes is too make the passenger experience much more enjoyable and to have the passenger arriving at their destination in a much better physical and mental state of mind.

Large windows with autodim

Large windows with autodim

787 Interior

787 Interior

Hear Boeing's Colleen Rainbolt talk about the passenger experience

Competition?

All of these innovations have not been lost on Boeing’s competitors. Rival Airbus, the European airplane manufacturer, is currently rushing to get their all new composite airplane, the A350, to the market. Both the 787 and the A350 are considered long-range airplanes so it is unlikely that you will get a chance to ride on one unless you are flying intercontinental routes. However, if the concept proves successful, and the early feedback on the 787 has been very positive, then we are certainly looking at the future of commercial aviation.

Rolling out the first 787

Rolling out the first 787

After a rough stretch that saw the Dreamliner delayed by three years, the first deliveries to launch customer ANA (All Nippon Airways) took place with much fanfare in October of 2011. Since then Boeing has started the slow but steady delivery of the plane and hopes to get production eventually up to 14 aircraft per month. The backlog for the Dreamliner is impressive with about 1,500 firm orders and the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner was the most successful new airplane launch ever for Boeing. To date Boeing has delivered over 900 Dreamliner’s to a variety of customers around the world.

The Dreamliner's maiden flight

Interesting Facts:

  • The Dreamliner will produce 20% less emissions than similar sized airplanes.
  • A 787 Dreamliner set the world record for an airplane in its weight class for the longest flight on March 13, 2012, when it flew 10,336 miles non-stop from Seattle to Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • The Dreamliner also owns the world record for the longest timed flight at 19 hours and 12 minutes. This occurred on February 9, 2012 during a test flight over the United States. The airplane flew a route that drew a “787” and a “Boeing” logo in the sky.
  • The factory that will do the final assembly of the 787 is 380 feet wide and 1,000 feet long.
  • The windows on the 787 are 30% larger than other airplanes. They measure 19 inches tall.
  • Instead of window shades the Dreamliner will have window dimmers.
  • The Dreamliner is 50% composite material by weight. What is composite material? It’s a carbon-fiber enforced polymer that is more durable and lighter than aluminum.
  • The list price for a 787-8 version of the Dreamliner is $185.2 million.
  • There are going to be three versions of the Dreamliner; the 787-8, 787-9 and the 787-10. The 787-9 and -10 version will have a stretched fuselage with more seating capacity.
  • The seating capacity of the 787-8 is 210 to 250 passengers with a range of up to 8,200 miles.
  • The seating capacity of the 787-9 is 250 to 290 passengers with a range of up to 8,500 miles.
  • The seating capacity of the 787-10 is up to 330 passengers with a range of up to 7,000 miles.
Test flight path.  Notice the "787" and Boeing logo.

Test flight path. Notice the "787" and Boeing logo.

Other articles on Space and Aviation

  • Neil Armstrong - The Last Great American Hero
    He was a true American hero. Pilot, Astronaut, Veteran, and of course the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. Neil Armstrong certainly had all the right stuff.
  • Remembering and Honoring Sally Ride - An American Hero
    Honoring and remembering American hero Sally Ride. Forever to be remembered as the first American woman to ride into space.
  • The Great New England Air Show
    A visit to the Great New England Air Show makes for a wonderful day. See some of the most amazing aircraft on display along with some incredible aerial acrobatics. Check out everything you need to know for a great day.
  • Space Shuttle - End of an Era
    Following the Apollo Space Program came the era of the Space Shuttle. After over 30 years of service to the United States including a total of 135 missions the Space Shuttle program officially ended on July 21st, 2011.

© 2012 Bill De Giulio

Comments

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on March 23, 2017:

Hi bizzymom. Thank you. I hope you get to fly on one soon, preferably to somewhere warm, beautiful and scenic. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

bizzymom from New York on March 23, 2017:

Thank you for all of the great details. Well written and researched! I too hope to fly on of these airplanes one day! My long-legged husband and children would love it too!!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 25, 2012:

Thanks TT. I hope to fly on one also someday. It is an awesome plane, hopefully it's everything they hoped it would be. Thanks for the visit and vote. Have a great day.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on July 24, 2012:

What an awesome piece of aerodynamic machinery! I might actually try flying again if I could get on one of these bad boys! Nicely done, bd! VUM!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 20, 2012:

Hi Mary. Must be a smart young lady you have there for a daughter. I would also love to get the chance to fly on the Dreamliner, maybe someday. Thank you for reading, commenting and the vote.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 20, 2012:

One of my daughters worked at Boeing about 10 years ago. I visited her and got to take a tour of the plant where the planes are made. This plane you wrote about is really something! I'd live to fly on it.

She now works for Gulstream in Savannah, Ga and designs their airplanes.

I voted this Hub UP, etc.etc.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 20, 2012:

Hi Mike. Will do the same. Thanks.

Micheal from United Kingdom on July 19, 2012:

Hi Bill,

They really do compliment one another, just going to give your hub a share on the social networks. Thanks for linking up.

All the votes and sharing

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 18, 2012:

Hi molometer. Just read your 787 Hub, excellent job. Absolutely we can exchange links. You are probably more astute than I at these things so just let me know how to go about doing this. Thank you for reading, commenting and the exchange offer.

Micheal from United Kingdom on July 18, 2012:

Hi Bill,

What a great hub on a brilliant airplane. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner really is the future of aviation.

I did a hub on it a few months back. It's great to see your totally unique take on this new airplane. Maybe we should exchange links? I think the hubs compliment each other really well. Have a read when you get a chance.

Voted up interesting useful and awesome. Sharing.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 15, 2012:

Hi Pramod. This airplane is going to revolutionize air-travel in our lifetimes. I also hope to fly the Dreamliner someday. Thank you for reading and commenting. Have a great day. Bill

pramodgokhale from Pune( India) on July 15, 2012:

Great product of the century.technical details in brief, a layperson can understand.20% less emission is a good start to achieve goal of clean environment and aviation industry would comply with new regulations.

i wish to fly dream-liner , the God fulfill my dream

Thank you sir.

pramod

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 14, 2012:

Hi Jake. Thank you for reading and commenting. I too hope to someday get and opportunity to fly in one. Appreciate the comments.

Jake Frost from London, United Kingdom on July 14, 2012:

Very interesting... Lots of nice images to break the text up too. I hope I will get to fly in this one day. Great hub!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 14, 2012:

Hi Jasmine. They certainly did. The early feedback is that this plane is a game changer. I too hope to some day get to fly on the 787. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. Have a great day.

Jasmine on July 14, 2012:

Boeing engineers certainly did a great job! I enjoyed reading this hub, and hopefully, I'll enjoy the flight some day :)

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on July 14, 2012:

Hi Natasha. How cool indeed that you got to watch them flying around out there while they were flight testing. My brother works for Boeing and got to work on the 787 which is pretty neat. Thanks for commenting and reading. Have a great day.

Natasha from Hawaii on July 14, 2012:

I live and work very near where these were being made and tested. It was pretty cool to see them in flight before they were officially launched! I've even seen them so low to the ground you could easily read the lettering. I didn't know that much about its capacity, reduced costs, etc., though - thanks for the information!