787 Dreamliner Innovates with Advanced Engineering Technology
Yesterday Boeing celebrated the long-awaited delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner to Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA) during a ceremony adjacent to the factory where the airplane was assembled. More than 500 employees representing the 787 program walked alongside the all-new jetliner to present it to ANA executives as a crowd of thousands looked on.
“Today we celebrate a significant moment in the history of flight. The 787 Dreamliner is the biggest innovation in commercial aviation since the Boeing 707 introduced the world to passenger jet travel more than 50 years ago. I want to thank ANA and all the employees of Boeing and our partner companies for the talent, technology and teamwork that have brought this game-changing airplane to life.” — Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman, president and CEO.
So what are those big innovations? Composites, for one. According to Boeing, composites make up half of the 787 Dreamliner, including the fuselage and wing. The one-piece fuelage eliminates about 1,500 aluminum sheets and 40,000 – 50,000 fasteners, according to the company. That equates to fewer than 10,000 holes drilled into the fuelage during assembly, which sounds like a lot until you compare it to the 1 million holes drilled in the 747 fuselage during assembly.
The lighter materials are partially behind Boeing’s promises of the Dreamliner using 20% less fuel than non-composite planes of the same size. (However, the new engines from General Electric and Rolls-Royce are the biggest contributors to overall fuel efficiency improvements, according to Boeing.) The company also expects the planes to be easier to maintain because composites don’t corrode.
Boeing says the 787 Dreamliner is the first mid-size airplane capable of flying long-range routes and will allow airlines to open new, non-stop routes.
Dreamliner Stats from Boeing:
- Hydraulic power distributed at: 5,000 lbs. per sq. in. on the 787, compared to 3,000 lbs. per sq. in. standard
- A new electric architecture extracts as much as 35% less power from the engines than traditional pneumatic systems on today’s airplanes
- Amount of copper wiring eliminated: 60 miles
- Design time on computers 800,000 hours of computing time on Cray supercomputers
- Hours of wind tunnel tests: 15,000 hours of wind tunnel tests
- Size of 787 factory: Approximately 380,000 sq. ft. (380 ft. across, 1,000 ft. long)
- Seating: 210 to 250 passengers for the 787-8, 250-290 on the 787-9
- Range: 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles for the 787-8, 8,000-8,500 for the 787-9
- Dimensions: 197-ft. wingspan, 186 ft. long, 56 ft. high for the 787-8, while the 787-9 is 20 ft. longer
- Cruising speed: Mach 0.85
- Maximum takeoff weight: 502,500 lbs. for the 787-8 and 545,000 lbs. for the 787-9
Watch an abbreviated version of the 10-hour inspection the Boeing 787 got before being delivered to ANA, from dimming the windows to flushing the toilets:
Check out how Boeing’s engineers kept the 787 as quiet as possible: