Monday, July 19, 2010

Dreamliner: Boeing's Incredible Plastic Airliner

"Dreamliner lands at Farnborough"
BBC (July 18, 2010)

"The BBC's Richard Scott watched the plane coming in to land with chief project engineer Mike Sinnett

"The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has landed at Farnborough for its first appearance at an international air show.

"Boeing's flagship aircraft is different from conventional aircraft, having been built largely out of light-weight composite material.

" 'This is the first time we've had a new airplane at an air show since the early 1990s,' Jim Albaugh, boss of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told the BBC.

"The plane has been delayed by more than two years after a series of hitches.

"When it was first conceived, the Dreamliner was a revolutionary concept, but rivals have since done much to catch up...."

The BBC article includes this two-minute, 26-second video. You may have a better experience with it than I did. The video itself is fine, probably. But the feed was the sort of choppy off-again, on-again sort that I've learned to associate with online video from old-school companies:

The Lemming linked to a few of the better (my onpinion) YouTube videos covering Boeing's Dreamliner, later in this post.

The BBC announcer said that the Dreamliner is, to a great extent, a "plastic" airplane." He's right, although it sounds cooler to say "carbon fiber."

I'm not terribly surprised that Boeing had "hitches" in production of its Dreamliner. The technology is new, the aircraft is a complex bit of machinery, and American regulations seem focused more on making sure that a new aircraft passes all its tests, than making sure it meets its deadlines.

The Dreamliner is more fuel efficient, uses materials that didn't exist when I was growing up, and advanced avoinics. What's more obvious is the window dressing. Literally.

If you're sitting by the window in an airliner and don't want the sun shining on you, you move a bit of material over to cover the window: pretty much the same technological principle we've used to control light levels since someone put a flap of cloth (or leather) over a cave entrance.

If you're a passenger in a Dreamliner, you'll have the window turn darker or lighter. No leather flaps.

The interior design of the Dremaliner is remarkable - but more about that, after the videos.

Here are those YouTube videos I mentioned. Despite the "raw video" in the first one's title, it's a fairly polished bit of editing.

"Raw Video: Boeing 787 Dreamliner interior"

seattlepi, YouTube (February 03, 2010)
video, 1:38

"A video tour of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner's interior at the Boeing production plant in Everett, Wash."

"Thomson Welcomes the Dreamliner"

ThomsonHols, YouTube (July 18, 2010)
video, 1:17

"Thomson Welcomes the Dreamliner - Farnborough Airshow, July 2010...."

Thomson Airways has ordered at least one Boeing Dreamliner: and they want to be sure that their potential customers know about it.

"Boeing 787 makes maiden flight"
[video available on YouTube only]
ReutersVideo, YouTube (December 15, 2009)
video, 1:08

"Boeing's revolutionary lightweight 787 Dreamliner took to the skies for the first time, marking a new era in air transport as it became the largest passenger jet to fly made mostly of composite materials."

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner's interior design caught my eye. Boeing probably wants to be sure that airlines - and the folks who fly Dreamliners - don't forget that they're looking at a seriously up-to-date aircraft.

Here are Boeing photos I found in a December, 2009, Autopia/Wired article:

Interior cabin mockup of Boeing 787Boarding Lighting
Dining LightingSleep LightingZA002 makes the second flight of a Boeing 787 in ANA liveryPassenger entrance on mockup interior of Boeing's 787AWA 1994
(Boeing, via Wired, used w/o permission)

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