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Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is on track to make its first flight in August 2007

While Airbus has run into some production snags with its A380 Superjumbo that have cost it customers, Boeing appears to be moving ahead on schedule with its smaller 787 Dreamliner. Boeing just recently announced that it has completed the "virtual rollout" of its new composite-bodied aircraft.

"Today's virtual rollout is the culmination of many months of effort by thousands of team members at Boeing and its 787 partners. Through the use of our new digital toolset, provided by Dassault Systemes, the team has proven the ability to manufacture 787 designs," said Mike Bair, VP and GM for the Dreamliner program.

Through the use of a powerful Dassault computer/software system, Boeing has been able to trim costs by 20% and cut a year from production on the Dreamliner. Engineers have also been able to see how parts will fit together in the virtual world before running into possible snags on a real production line.

"Our tools have enabled us to model the entire production process from our partners' factories to our own. We have found errors in simulation that would have been costly to find in production and have been able to design corrections quickly to keep the program on track," said Bair.

If you may recall, the Airbus A380 has been delayed by a year due to problems with the electrical harness which consists of 100,000 wires and 40,300 connectors. These problems were found during production rather than earlier in the design process of the aircraft.

Boeing is currently taking steps to reduce weight on the Dreamliner by switching from aluminum to titanium on some parts used in the aircraft. In order to meet the design targets for fuel efficiency and range, the switch to titanium is a necessity. Not surprisingly, the computer simulations have been instrumental in pointing out critical components that are ripe for the switch to titanium.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is expected to make its first flight in August of 2007 with delivery starting in 2008. As of now, Boeing has orders for 458 planes from 37 customers.

"It's a challenge, no doubt about it. This is the team, all of us together -- our customers, our partners and each of us -- who will bring this airplane to life. It's an amazing journey from where we started just four years ago. But the best part is yet to come," said Bair.

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By Spyvie on 12/8/2006 10:53:31 AM , Rating: 5
"...which consists of 100,000 wires and 40,300 connectors."

The trouble with the A380 is obvious, its missing 159,700 connectors.

By VooDooAddict on 12/8/2006 11:11:19 AM , Rating: 1
LOL. That's great.

By Ardan on 12/8/2006 12:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
He was obviously joking, dude. :P

By timmiser on 12/8/2006 6:23:59 PM , Rating: 2
So you only read the title? Or do you just not get it?

By Samus on 12/8/2006 7:21:29 PM , Rating: 2
Dude...damn, he's just kidding.

By Mclendo06 on 12/8/2006 3:07:33 PM , Rating: 2
Afraid of the big European aircraft?

Yes, I am afraid of the big European Aircraft.

The Airbus A300 that crashed in Queens back in 2001 crashed because the horizontal stabilizer broke off after excessive rudder inputs made as the aircraft encountered severe wake turbulance. Granted, the FAR document the A-300 is written to doesn't require that the horizontal stabilizer structure be able to handle full rudder deflections left then immediately full to the right at high dynamic pressures (what resulted in the failure of the horizontal tail). However, there had been previous incidents where planes had sustained damage to the point that Airbus replaced one aircraft's horizontal stabilizer (without telling the airline which owned the aircraft that it had a new tail on it when returned to them). Even after these incidents, and even still after after the crash, Airbus believes it is not necessary to put any material into the flight manual to notify pilots of the potential to damage or destroy the tail with excessive control inputs due to the fact that there is, in Airbus's words, no reason that pilots would make such inputs, even though there is documented evidence through flight data recorders that this has occurred. Thakfully, the potential for another crash of that type to occur has been fixed by adjusting the flight control system to reduce rudder deflections for a given input as dynamic pressure increases. It is, however, one example of several evidencing how the prevailing attitude at Airbus of "we can't be wrong" can create unsafe aircraft, and this attitude has nothing to do with how many international contractors are used. I just hope that this attitude doesn't doom the A380, because the stakes get a lot higher when you have 500-600 people in one aircraft.

By Arthur on 12/8/2006 4:53:09 PM , Rating: 5
Gosh. Man. Boeing have had problems with rudders too. This is well known.

Regarding the non notification by Airbus in the operation manual of specific precautions to take with the rudder (and flight controls in general), I think you must have misread something. The A300/A310 Flight Crew Operation Manuals (FCOM) have been updated after the accident and NTSB enquiry. Quote from just below.

"In a March 2002 flight crew operating manual (FCOM) bulletin to A300/A310 operators, Airbus cautioned against the notion of unrestricted use of flight controls at speeds within the VA envelope:

"Sudden commanded full, or nearly full, opposite rudder movement against a sideslip can ... result in structural failure. This is true even at speeds below the maximum design maneuvering speed, VA."

If this interpretation is now the received wisdom in the industry, it represents more than a technical clarification and affects operating procedures. Consider the 270-knot speed mentioned by the pilot above. That is coincidentally the maximum speed at which the landing gear can be extended on the A300-600. If the crew receives a warning chime that the gear is lot down and locked, note the difference in FCOM procedures before and after the Flight 587 accident:

Before: "If one gear remains unlocked, accelerate to Vmax ... and perform alternating side slips in an attempt to lock the gear." (FCOM, Rev.25)

After: "Sideslip should be initiated using the rudder on the same side of the aircraft as the unsafe gear indication, i.e., if the right main landing gear is unlocked, slowly apply right rudder up to full deflection if necessary while maintaining wings level to generate sideslip. If the gear still fails to lock, then slowly return the rudder to neutral ... and then slowly apply opposite rudder. If necessary, repeat this cycle in an attempt to lock the gear." (FCOM, Rev. 26)"

By Mclendo06 on 12/8/2006 6:40:06 PM , Rating: 3
The article I am remembering that the data from my post came from may be a little dated, but if you notice the table at the bottom of your second link, it refers to previous instances where aircraft tails were loaded beyond limit load. Even after these incidents (but before the crash), one of which resulted in plastic deformation of the horizontal tail requiring its subsequent replacement, Airbus didn't do anything to warn pilots, a majority of which were under the impression that any manuvering in the flight envelope could be executed without damaging the aircraft, due to the fact that they felt there were no circumstances in which a pilot would make such rudder inputs. However, even then, their manual called for oscillating rudder inputs to execute sideslips to unjam a stuck landing gear (another part of the manual, which as your post mentions, was changed in 2002). Perhaps Airbus didn't have in mind sudden full rudder deflections back and forth but rather smooth rudder motions, but if I am a pilot on approach with a stuck gear and have just read "alternating sideslips" in the manual, my first instinct will be to kick those yaw pedals as hard as I can back and forth to shake that gear loose. I personally feel it was irresponsible of Airbus to not to address this problem until it had caused a crash.

Also, the 737 crash you reference was a situation of the aircraft becoming uncontrollable due to a jammed rudder. Similar to the Airbus, this plane encountered wake turbulance which probably made the pilot execute the full left rudder deflection to the left, but in this case the tail did not fail structurally, instead the rudder mechanism failed and jammed in the full left position, rendering the plane uncontrollable.

Allow me to pose another example of this "we are right and you are wrong" attitude exhibited from Airbus. Airbus includes a feature in their flight control software which prevents the spoilers and thrust reversers from deploying until the landing gear have reached a certain RPM. This makes sense, in that you don't want these devices activating until you are on the ground. There is a problem with the way that Airbus implements these features, though. A Luftansa flight, I believe going into Frankfurt, although I am not certain, landed on a wet runway and started hydroplaning. As the wheels skidded on the water, they failed to start spinning sufficiently fast to enable to spoilers and TRs to deploy, and the plane ran off the runway. If the spoilers had deployed, the plane would have planted firmly on the ground. Luftansa now has to go into every plane they obtain from Airbus and change this feature in the flight control software themselves, because Airbus will not alter the software for the aircraft, even though it has resulted in a crash.

I have a Boeing bias, I will admit. I took senior aircraft design this year and listened to my 35+ years of experience professor on several occasions rip Airbus for these issues, and I must say it wore off on me. To Airbus's credit, they have been on the forefront of things like fly-by-wire and digital cockpots, but as I stated earlier, they have a general corporate attitude which I feel has and will continue to create problems and lead to crashes.

By Arthur on 12/8/2006 7:31:44 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the long reply. I appreciate it. I think the incident you mention with the landing gear and the 'touch down' condition was in Vienna.

I have an Airbus bias, I have to admit too...! I work for them, as a sub-contractor. I can tell you that they - or at least the people I work with - are far more open than you perceive. May be is it a matter of corporate attitude but their engineers committed to designing stuff are usually extremely open to novelty, suggestions or criticism. And some colleagues of mine who work at Boeing told me on the other hand that it was very hard for them to make new ideas pass... So it's not fully black or white.

In any case, both manufacturers produce neat aircraft, and the competition between them is certainly beneficial to everyone (including on safety issues).

Wish you the best at designing aircraft. I witnessed the A380 first flight in Toulouse and I can tell you that it was a very emotional moment for me and my colleagues. These kind of magic moments happen in few domains, and obviously aviation is one of them. The magic is still there.

By Bill Payer on 12/8/2006 7:34:42 PM , Rating: 2
I think your lecturer is probably still nursing a grievance against the Europeans - England and France specifically, recalling the complete failure of the hugely overweight Boeing SST, as compared with the technically successful Concorde - still the most advanced airliner ever built.

If you want to see practical proof of the superiority of European aerodynamics, just take a look out over the wings of the next Boeing you fly on. Observe the numerous vortex generators needed to maintain airflow over the control surfaces.

If you have the chance to fly on just about any Airbus, however, you may be surprised by how few of these vortex generators you'll see.

As for your comments about the problem with the A300 fin - you appear to getting vertical and horizontal confused.

By Desslok on 12/9/2006 3:05:47 AM , Rating: 2
"most advanced airliner ever built" True in some respects.

Although, I would have thought that a shredding tire on take off bringing a plane down would have been something they would have designed against.

It was also a commerial flop, did it EVER recoup the cost of development? Don't think so.

Boeing saw the light and ditched the SST program. The English and French, mostly the English wanted to but couldn't due to the massive amounts of money that had already been dumped into the program. Plus national pride.

Plus Boeing was working on the 747 at the time. Which if I remember correctly is still flying, while horror of horrors is making a PROFIT!

By Janooo on 12/8/2006 11:10:40 PM , Rating: 2
In the 737 crash the rudder didn't just jammed. It went the opposite direction than it was intended to go. That brought the plane into a dive and the pilots were so shocked that they didn't react properly. They tried to pool but they didn't have speed. They were supposed to accelerate into the dive first (scary but logical) and then pool.

Boeing was running the PR machine and they blamed pilots. It took long years to prove that it was their mistake. This was exactly "we are right and you are wrong" attitude from Boeing.

By 0serg on 12/9/2006 4:58:48 AM , Rating: 2
What about engines falling off Boeings :)?

"The design and certification of the B747 pylon was found to be inadequate to provide the required level of safety. Furthermore the system to ensure structural integrity by inspection failed. This ultimately caused - probably initiated by fatigue in the inboard midspar fuse-pin - the no.3 pylon and engine to separate from the wing in such a way that the no.4 pylon and engine were torn off, part of the leading edge of the wing was damaged and the use of several systems was lost or limited. This subsequently left the flight crew with very limited control of the airplane. Because of the marginal controllability a safe landing became highly improbable, if not virtually impossible."

But I think everything with B787 fuselage & wings will be ok, since they were developed with help of russian specialists from Tupolev design bureau, that build not most economic and comfortable, but safest planes :). Just joking, of course :)

By r8jsu nftgyo on 12/8/2006 5:54:59 PM , Rating: 2
thats what they want u to think...
when this single-engine plane crashes i dont want to be there :D

Ready to fly August next year
By Ixion on 12/8/2006 12:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
The A380 was ready to fly and indeed did this year. I'm sure Airbus use a similar tool for their production. The hold ups wouldn't have been an issue on a "first flight" aircraft as they aren't fitted with an entertainment system. Even with a year delay the A380 will still be around before the 787.

RE: Ready to fly August next year
By klingon on 12/8/06, Rating: 0
RE: Ready to fly August next year
By GI2K on 12/8/2006 1:24:04 PM , Rating: 3
What makes you think the 787 won't be delayed?...

RE: Ready to fly August next year
By Sahrin on 12/8/2006 4:51:51 PM , Rating: 2
Because Boeing, historically, delivers major projects on line (at least the civil aviation division does).

RE: Ready to fly August next year
By GI2K on 12/9/2006 6:21:23 AM , Rating: 2
Really? That's not what the 747 history tells us...

RE: Ready to fly August next year
By timmiser on 12/8/2006 6:45:46 PM , Rating: 3
Also because Boeing doesn't have to deal with the Intra-Euro bureaucracy, umpteen Euro unions and their scheduled labor strikes, and the boneheaded decision to build the world's largest passenger aircraft in landlocked Toulouse!

Too many Euro governments want too many pieces of the pie resulting in stupid decisions.

RE: Ready to fly August next year
By timmiser on 12/8/2006 1:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the problem with the A380 was that one country was using an older version of software than another country which cause the problem with the connectors. There is just no excuse for that and really reflects the inter-European cultural problems Airbus faces.

RE: Ready to fly August next year
By Murst on 12/8/2006 2:54:44 PM , Rating: 3
France had the older version and Germany had the newer version.

Although I've heard the same thing before, I doubt it was only due to different versions of the software.

RE: Ready to fly August next year
By malfroy on 12/9/2006 10:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
The software you are referring to is made by a French company, the Dassault Group. The CATIA system started in the 70s. There were no software versions error.

Love the look of it
By therealnickdanger on 12/8/2006 11:47:49 AM , Rating: 2
The curvature of the wings really gives it a unique and awesome look! Props to Boeing!

RE: Love the look of it
By bobsmith1492 on 12/8/2006 1:47:01 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, they curve since they are so flexible that the weight of the plane bows them down under load. While sitting on the runway, they droop down the other way. It's due to the composite carbon materials they use.

They can also compress the cabin air more due to the added strength possible by using the stronger per weight materials. This will make for nicer flying since you won't have to breathe like you're on top of Mount Everest for 20 hour flights.

I agree, this looks to be a nice plane as long as people aren't scared from the wings bending as you take off!

RE: Love the look of it
By Mclendo06 on 12/8/2006 2:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
Wings bend; that's just life. Just as long as you don't look out and see the wing fluttering (shaking back and forth with greater amplitued each oscillation), there's nothing to be worried about. Yes ,the 787 will be pressurized to I think the equivalent of about 5,000 ft altitude instead of the 8,000 stipulated by the FAA, which should make for a slightly more comfortable ride. It is exciting to see this first composite airliner come to the final stages of development. I know other airliners have used composites for some of the structures, but this is the first one that will use composites extensively (wing, fuselage, etc.). There are so many challenges assoicated with composites, though. I hope Boeing is able to pull it off on schedule. They have put a lot of R&D into this to help them make schedule, so I am optimistic. Only time will tell.

RE: Love the look of it
By JohnnyCNote on 12/10/2006 12:22:54 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking of bending wings, I flew from Athens to NYC on a 747 in '78 and was seated near the wing. Once airborne, it was clearly several feet above the point relative to the fuselage when we were on the ground. While I wasn't alarmed, I was impressed with how much it flexed.

As a sidebar, this flight was far better than when I flew to Greece 17 months before in a 707 (courtesy of the USAF), which I likened to a pencil with wings it was so narrow. I learned several things on that miserable flight: never sit by the window, and never accept a seating assignment all the way in the front.

Transoceanic flights are bad enough without having to be squeezed up in the front corner the whole way. Oh, and lay off of the beer, or you'll have to make repeated treks to the rear of the cabin. I solved that particular issue by quitting drinking beer altogether.

Subsequent flights have been on 767's, which are pretty nice. But I've found that, at least for me, the best way to handle a trans-Atlantic flight (not that I do it at all very often) is with the help of a good sleeping pill.....

RE: Love the look of it
By nafhan on 12/9/2006 12:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
I also remember reading that the composite construction allow for cabin air with higher humidity levels than previous aircraft. That should help to reduce dry scratchy throats.

RE: Love the look of it
By cochy on 12/8/2006 6:25:59 PM , Rating: 2
Yup it's really nice. I'm sure it's going to be a bit hit with carriers. Air Canada has 14 on order with an option for 48 more. I'd love to fly in one.

RE: Love the look of it
By ralith on 12/11/2006 9:29:42 AM , Rating: 2
I would think one of the major reasons for the Dihedal wing design would be to give the engines decent ground clearance, but hey that's just a guess on my part. Of course it also adds to the overall stability of the aircraft.

Dassault Software
By guy642002 on 12/8/2006 11:14:26 AM , Rating: 2
The software I believe they are talking about is Catia. I think it runs around the thousands of dollars for a single license with all the bells and whistles, but it is an amazing software that can do almost anything if you know how to use it.

RE: Dassault Software
By hubajube on 12/8/2006 11:20:05 AM , Rating: 2
Catia is somewhere around $20K per seat.

RE: Dassault Software
By dice1111 on 12/8/2006 12:16:28 PM , Rating: 2
Anybody got a torrent link?


RE: Dassault Software
By bespoke on 12/8/2006 12:57:29 PM , Rating: 2
I know you're joking, but torrentspy shows 3 torrents for Catia, along with several others for manuals.

Have fun and let us know when you're finished with your new airliner. :)

RE: Dassault Software
By UNCjigga on 12/8/2006 3:07:02 PM , Rating: 2
According to Wiki, they are using CATIA v5 along with other Dassault products like DELMIA and ENOVA. I think DELMIA is relatively newer and is focused on manufacturing vs. design/engineering, so that's probably what the article is referring to.

By edge929 on 12/8/2006 11:06:09 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like Boeing took the right approach here. The 787 might not be the biggest/baddest/sexiest/add-your-own-obsesssion-her e but they stand to make a lot of $$ if they can keep up this strategy.

That Dassault software sounds pretty interesting. Wonder how long THAT was in development and if it was made specifically for Boeing. If so, how much did it cost Boeing? Probably nothing compared to the $$ the spend on planes.

RE: Nice
By lwright84 on 12/8/2006 11:37:14 AM , Rating: 2
no.. Catia has been around for awhile and i can verify that it is used extensively at Lockheed Martin and its partners (BAE, NG, etc).

RE: Nice
By Arthur on 12/8/2006 11:42:43 AM , Rating: 2
RE: Nice
By stromgald on 12/8/2006 12:42:23 PM , Rating: 1
Yup, CATIA's been around for awhile, but speaking as a person in an aero company using CATIA, that 20% number is complete management bull****. They're just showing off or justifying the need to switch to newer, better supported systems.

And honestly, they don't have anything to compare the production time to other than old (and different) programs/projects. New software speeds things up but puts in more detail, which takes longer to get done. The overall affect is minimal. CATIA just gives Boeing better knowledge of the product before release. Cost and time differences from other product developments are more dependent on the nature of the product itself and the management plan/philosophy.

RE: Nice
By bernardl on 12/8/2006 8:49:25 PM , Rating: 2
With all due respect.

CATIA is only part of the equation. A significant part of the gains seen on the 787 come from the complete simulation of the assembly line with Delmia and the Mgt of the supply chain with ENOVIA.

The 787 can be compared to the 777 in that they are similar in size (even if the 787 is probably more complex). Comparing the time it took to design the assembly line of the 777 vs the time is took to design the assmbly line of the 787 makes sense. Factoring design time gains and assembly line gains, they are seeing 20% gains.

It is of course true that enhancement in general planning etc... might also have a positive impact on these figures but 20% is not very surprising. Lockheed quoted 50% gains for the f35.


Dreamliner niche
By jhh108 on 12/8/2006 2:43:14 PM , Rating: 2
Pardon the dumb question, but what market is Boeing targeting with the 787 that is not being addressed by the other 7X7 planes? Or, is it simply more economical?

RE: Dreamliner niche
By tcsenter on 12/8/2006 3:49:32 PM , Rating: 3
>>Pardon the dumb question, but what market is Boeing targeting with the 787 that is not being addressed by the other 7X7 planes? Or, is it simply more economical?<<

787 is slated to replace the aging and technically uninspiring 767 eventually, but its largely an economical move to a lighter aircraft that is more fuel-efficient while preserving the long-range capability and wide body configuration of extended range (ER) 767 variants. Extended range variants of the 767 were an after-thought, while the 787 is designed for these target performance characteristics from the start.

RE: Dreamliner niche
By Master Kenobi on 12/8/2006 4:04:26 PM , Rating: 2
More economical. You can fly more of these slightly smaller planes, faster, and for less fuel and larger planes. This will also allow planes to land on smaller runways.

RE: Dreamliner niche
By Sahrin on 12/8/2006 4:55:32 PM , Rating: 1
Think multi-core. What's better: One huge single-thread monolithic core with massive die space and awful yields. Or ten simple, symmetric one thread cores with tiny die space and amazing yields.

Shade of Sony and Microsoft
By ThisSpaceForRent on 12/10/2006 12:29:09 PM , Rating: 2
This whole situation is remarkable similar to the PS3 versus XBox 360. The A380, in my opinion, is like the PS3 in that it represents the more complex approach, aimed at doing it all. Where as the 787 is obiviosly simliar to the XBox in that it is simply an evolution of an exisiting design. The production delays are eerily similar as well.

Not that I have anything against Airbus, but I think the A380 may become a victim of the ambition that created it. We have heard for years about the concerns about runways that can handle the aircraft, which from my understand is mixed concern. Additionally, there is the problem of having to build new terminals that can handle the larger aircraft. The A380 is also more of a static design in terms of economics. Customers who purchase the A380 will be forced to use the aircraft on high volume routes.

While that statement is a given, air travel as we all know is cyclic in nature. You have certain times of the year with increased traffic. During high volume periods the A380 will undoubtedly shine, during slower times it will become more of a liabily than a godsend.

I think the 787 the advantage of versatility. Given the smaller size, the 787 can more easily be retasked to different routes.

Only time will really tell which comes out on top. But regardless of all other considerations, both airplanes are technological marvels.

RE: Shade of Sony and Microsoft
By bernardl on 12/10/2006 9:29:40 PM , Rating: 2
There are indeed similarities in that a technologically more ambitious product has encountered some technical issues that had not been anticipated.

This is IMHO un-related to the market success of such a product, and even less related to the abilty of the product to meet some sort of demand.

The 787 and the 380 are being compared because they are the latest offerings of the 2 leading constructors, but comparing them is like comparing an Mac Mini to a Dell XPS. They are not targetting at all the same market and it is perfectly reasonnable to think that there is enough room for these 2 products to be successful in their respective market segments.


Oh did they?
By Wwhat on 12/10/2006 2:51:48 AM , Rating: 3
"the team has proven the ability to manufacture 787 designs"
Cute statement but I'm sure the a380 team also had a working computermodel, in which everything was fine and dandy.
I advise them to wait a bit before claiming that their computers are flawless, even if it is a hal2000, one bug in the software, one scenario the computerprogrammers didn't think off, and WHAM it's a disaster.

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