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Virgin Atlantic places an order for 15 787-9 Dreamliners

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has been detailed on DailyTech several times over the past year. The aircraft will be available in three versions (787-3, 787-8 and 787-9) and will accommodate between 223 to 296 passengers. A total of 44 customers have ordered 544 Dreamliners at a cost of $75 billion USD. 

The plane will be constructed of roughly 50 percent composite materials to aid in strength and to save weight. Boeing also switched out aluminum in favor of titanium for some components to save even more weight over the course of development. The Dreamliner will have a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 and will consume about 20 percent less fuel than its comparably-sized rivals.

Boeing today announced that that Virgin Atlantic has ordered 15 of the 787-9 Dreamliner which seats 263 passengers in three classes. The deal is valued at $2.8 billion USD and Virgin Atlantic has the option to purchase an additional eight 787-9s and another 20 787-3s.

"Virgin Atlantic is pleased to introduce the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as our aircraft of the future," said Virgin Atlantic CEO Steve Ridgway. "This revolutionary aircraft will bring a step change to the industry, substantially reducing environmental impact and incorporating innovative design and advanced technology, while providing an enhanced flying experience for our passengers."

Boeing and Virgin Atlantic are also looking at other ways to reduce fuel usage in airliners. Instead of starting the engines near the terminal, the two companies will are looking to tow aircraft to a "starting grid" near the active runway where the engines would then be started. This move would cut carbon emissions by nearly 50 percent, reduce fuel consumption and cut down on noise pollution.

In addition, Virgin Atlantic and GE Aviation have announced a partnership to develop biofuels for use in aircraft. A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 will be used as a demonstrator for alternative fuel usage sometime next year.

"Virgin Atlantic has demonstrated extraordinary leadership within our industry on addressing environmental impact, and Boeing is proud that the 787 Dreamliner is such an important ingredient of the airline's plan for the future," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson. "Working together in partnership, Boeing and Virgin Atlantic will develop innovative, environmentally progressive solutions to provide greater fuel efficiency and lower aircraft emissions."

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Virgin's was not the only announcement yesterday...
By Deaks2 on 4/26/2007 9:57:07 AM , Rating: 6

Air Canada announcned an order of 23 additional 787 aircraft, bringing their total up to 37 firm orders ad options for another 23 aircraft, bringing them up to 60 units.

With 37 units Air Canada will be the largest operator of the new fuel-efficient 787. AC cut its order of 777's down by 2 units.

These aircraft are being used to replace all of AC's long-range Airbus aircraft which were purchased in the late 1980's, A340's for the Pacific routes and A330 for heavy North-Ameircan and Euro-routes.

Interesting side note, the Airbus' being replaced were the infamous Airbus Affair aircraft:

By FITCamaro on 4/26/2007 3:35:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'm glad to not be working on the Airbus project I was on at my last job anymore. Sure it was for the military but still. You have to wonder how Airbus is going to stay afloat when they're having nothing but problems and delays with their new aircraft.

Maybe the French military will help them stay in business by buying planes.....wait.....the French never use their military....sorry Airbus.

By eppenoire on 4/26/2007 5:36:56 PM , Rating: 4
While I am all for French bashing, you might want to consider France has:
1600 Troops in Lebanon, 2500 troops in Afganistan, around 2400 troops in the Balkans and around 1750 stationed in Africa. While I admit they have a tendency of getting in the way, what with retreating everytime some someone yells, bang. They have a pretty substantial force deployed around the world amounting to somewhere around 38000 personelle in total. If you don't think they will need Airbuses or Citroens for their next mass surrender, you are sadly mistaken.

By Master Kenobi on 4/26/2007 7:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
38000 troops is literally nothing. Also France has no logistics to move said troops, they have to borrow commercial airlines and boats to move their troops and equipment around, or sometimes the U.S. will move their stuff for them if they ask nicely.

Simply put, the U.S. has a large military, but not THE largest (Russia and China easily outnumber the U.S. military by far) however the U.S. has the logistics to move everything anywhere in the world in a relatively short amount of time. Plus it helps that the U.S. is the undisputed ruler of all airspace and the F-22 is only going to further that air dominance well into the 21st century.

Still, France has the semi-respectable position of atleast having troops in other countries to provide help/assistance, same can't be said for many other european or other world powers. U.S. is the largest/most advanced military that has power projection to every corner of the globe, but France, Britain, to a lesser extent Germany and Australia also have far reaching power projection. The largest standing militaries are Russia, North Korea, China, even Iran has a large one. However their ability to project power is extremely limited or non-existant. Their militaries are also based on having tons of infantry, which is why the U.S. makes a killing supplying Cluster bombs to Israel, and other allies as well as equipping it's own forces with as many clusterbombs as needed. Clusterbombs make troop concentrations light up like the forth of july LOL!

Side note, Air fuel bomb and/or MOAB, yea that's the solution to massive infantry armies like China, Iran, N.Korea.

U.S. Military, planning ahead.

By Captain Orgazmo on 4/27/2007 12:06:33 AM , Rating: 1
France's pathetic military should be used as target practice along with its pathetic politicians (unless Sarkozy wins... lets hope). In Afghanistan only the US, Canada, UK, and the Dutch are actually doing any fighting. The Germans and all other eurotrash just sit in the north with thumb inserted in arse with orders to present flowers to Taliban if engaged. Fortunately for the world Canada has elected a PM with a realistic view of the world, and we are slowly rebuilding a military trashed by over a decade of pathetic Liberal rule. Canada is finally going to have the capacity to project power on its own with heavy lift aircraft and helicopters, a new rapid deploying airborne infantry unit, new battle tanks, and the likely purchase of F-35 jets (the development of which Canada has already invested half a billion bucks). Hopefully the Americans elect someone besides Obama or Hilary Rodlicker, or else the end of western dominance is upon us.

By Ringold on 4/27/2007 3:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
A Canadian with sense! It really is good to see Canada start to turn itself around; it's been working on being totally ignored by us here in the US and it's NATO partners for decades with its amazing disappearing military.

As for French 'peacekeepers'.. What they do could easily be done by social workers. Here's an example of a 'peacekeeper':
Soldiers sitting along one of the most heavily fortified, militarized borders on Earth, heavily armed and ever-vigilant every hour of every day awaiting the time to defend their positions against a massive onslaught that'd likely mean their death, all to defend an old ally forged in the war against communism.

I am, of course, refering to the better than 29,000 American military forces watching the DMZ with North Korea helping democratic South Korea maintaing peace through strength. That's peacekeeping. Handing out food, and rapidly leaving when things get rough (Rwanda, anybody?) is noble and all, but not what I call peacekeeping.

By Amiga500 on 4/27/2007 9:30:47 AM , Rating: 2
Large-scale logistics support is not necessary unless you plan on going off on some empire building invasions...

Oh... I see... yes, US military planning ahead - indeed.

Just a pity they didn't think through how exactly they were gonna actually win the wars they fight. While the US aren't gonna lose them, a draw[(n) out conflict] is good enough for the other side - US eventually withdraws like vietnam.

By masher2 on 4/27/2007 12:13:15 PM , Rating: 2
> "Large-scale logistics support is not necessary unless you plan on going off on some empire building invasions..."

France, circa 1939, thought the same thing as you.

By Amiga500 on 4/27/2007 5:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
So having a large logistics ability would have helped France in 1940?

News to me.

By masher2 on 4/28/2007 6:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
> "So having a large logistics ability would have helped France in 1940?"

Of course. Germany was, in 1940, nearly as dependent on resources outside its borders as it it today...a fact that Britain's Navy exploited throughout the war, and a fact France tried less succesfully by landing in German-occupied Norway and even Germany itself (at Saarbrucken).

In late 1939, France was shuttling troops to it from India and even parts of Africa...another operation that would have been eased and sped up with long-range logistic support.

WW2 was a world war...and quite often, the best way to defend was not to sit in a line on the home front, but rather to attack a strategic point somewhere far away. A fact Britain realized from the start...a realization that prevented them from being invaded themselves. Had Britain lacked longe-range logistics, their only recourse would have been the same as France's....and the outcome would have been the same as well.

By Amiga500 on 4/29/2007 12:49:54 PM , Rating: 2
Have you any idea of the rubbish you are talking?

France was invaded... not Africa, not New Guinea... France.

They didn't have to transport their troops several thousand miles to the battlefield. It was on their doorstep.

The French army had more (and better) tanks than the Germans. Outdated combat doctrine, allied with inept leadership within the military coming face to face with battle-hardened Nazi divisions resulted in them getting trounched.

Not a lack of logistics resources - to say otherwise is nothing but ignorance of reality.

By masher2 on 4/29/2007 3:03:55 PM , Rating: 3
> "France was invaded... not Africa, not New Guinea... France."

Actually Africa and New Guinea both were invaded by the Axis Powers during WW2. But you've missed the primary point here. Germany's first step in WW2 was not to invade France. Had France had the long-range logistical power to react to the invasion of Poland, Norway, Denmark, or even Belgium, it itself would have never been invaded. Had France the ability to shuttle troops faster to it from overseas, it may have survived the initial onslaught. At the very least, it would have been withdraw far more of its troops at Dunkirk, leaving it with the ability to free France itself, instead of having to rely upon foreign assistance entirely.

You underestimate the critical nature of logistics in modern warfare. A nation that simply masses in a line on its border will lose. Period. England-- despite having, in 1939, a smaller standing army than France-- was never invaded. They actively engaged Germany elsewhere, holding key strategic points, denying the Germans critical resources, and forcing a much larger army to spread itself thin, by virtue of their ability to attack in numerous areas. Had England simply massed its army on the beach at Dover and waited, they'd have gone the way of France.

By PlasmaBomb on 4/26/2007 2:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
The plane will be constructed of roughly 50 percent composite materials to aid in strength and to save weight. Boeing also switched out aluminum in favor of lighter titanium for some components to save even more weight over the course of development.

Hate to tell you that titanium (?=4.506 gcm^-3) is not lighter than aluminum (?=2.70 gcm^-3). It's a common misconception. However titanium is stronger which means that less can be used to withstand a given load allowing the components to be redesigned to be lighter.

RE: Titanium
By PlasmaBomb on 4/26/2007 2:35:25 PM , Rating: 2
? is rho by the way, sorry

RE: Titanium
By 457R4LDR34DKN07 on 4/26/2007 11:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
? is rho by the way, sorry

It is ohm spelled backwards or the opposite of resistance being conductance. It is commonly used in determining salinty level (impurity) of water.

RE: Titanium
By ChronoReverse on 4/26/2007 3:24:03 PM , Rating: 2
What you have shown is that aluminium is less DENSE than Titanium.

Which isn't relevant since we are interested in mass for a given strength.

RE: Titanium
By PlasmaBomb on 4/26/2007 3:49:19 PM , Rating: 2
The article clearly says that aluminum was swapped for lighter titanium, if that is all that was done the part would end up heavier, and I also commented on the mass for a given strength.

RE: Titanium
By Souka on 4/26/2007 6:02:07 PM , Rating: 3
what was said, and what was meant, can often been confused.

the term "swapped"...what did it mean?

Replace the same volume of metal with another?
Replace the required mass (weight) of one strength metal with a different strength metal with a different mass (weight)?

I think in this case it's clear that they didn't replace based on identical volume, but the fact they could make the same part from titanium that has less man...hence, lighter.

RE: Titanium
By Mclendo06 on 4/26/2007 6:14:13 PM , Rating: 2
It would be insane to swap volume for volume. In order to take advantage of titanium's higher specific strength (ultimate tensile stress/density) then you have to design using titanium from the get go.

Also, an interesting fact worth noting:
aluminum and steel have roughly the same specific strength. Aluminum is about a 1/3 as dense as steel and also about a 1/3 as strong. There is a fair amount of variation between alloys, but they are approximately the same.
Titanium has a higher specific strength than either aluminum or steel, but is more expensive. Another quality of Titanium alloy is that it is far more temperature resistant than aluminum (this is why the SR-71 Blackbird was made with a Titanium skin)
Carbon fiber composite, on the other hand, has a much higher (several times) specific strength than any metal when loaded in the fiber direction. It must be laid up properly (it is very weak when loaded in the transverse direction) which results in high manufacturing costs, but you can build incredibly light structures with it which is why the 787 uses this material so extensively.

RE: Titanium
By 91TTZ on 4/26/2007 8:12:12 PM , Rating: 2
If steel had the same strength/weight ratio as that of aluminum, why are almost all aircraft made of aluminum and not steel?

Steel would be cheaper and have better fatigue properties.

I don't think they have the same strength/weight ratio.

RE: Titanium
By DublinGunner on 4/27/2007 9:30:13 AM , Rating: 2
Aluminium doesnt rust. You dont want a rusty wing or fuselage do you?

Contructing from steel would require parts to be replaced on a much more regular basis.

Yay Boeing
By Connoisseur on 4/26/2007 9:38:08 AM , Rating: 5
I'm glad a US company is making such a splash in international markets. It's companies like Boeing that all US manufacturers should look to as a precedence for competing globally.

RE: Yay Boeing
By marvdmartian on 4/26/2007 11:21:32 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, and it beats the hell out of that Airbus cattle car that's come out. Geez, I used to hate the amount of time it took for a 300 passenger 747 to load and offload....I can't imagine how bad it must be for that double decker airbus, even using two doors for entry and exit! What's next?? :P

RE: Yay Boeing
By AmazingRando on 4/26/2007 4:07:49 PM , Rating: 3
I'm glad a US company is making such a splash in international markets. It's companies like Boeing that all US manufacturers should look to as a precedence for competing globally.

What, you mean subsidizing commercial sales through R&D expensed to military work? Yeah, that is a great plan - too bad most companies - including its main competitor can't apply that so easily..

Every aspect of Boeing's commercial products has a military precursor, or a direct military application. The same can hardly be said of Airbus' commercial airliners.

RE: Yay Boeing
By Eris23007 on 4/26/2007 4:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
Nah, instead Airbus just gets "loans" from France & Germany to develop their technology..........that they never have to pay back.

Can you provide an example of how the composite skin used for the 787 (essentially *the* key technology for 787) was developed for military work *BY BOEING*? Something developed by one of Boeing's subcontractors doesn't count - Airbus can just as easily issue subcontracts as Boeing can.

It is not so easy as you seem to think to take technologies developed for military applications and retask them for commercial use. The requirements are just so different! The military is far less worried about efficiency than about capability & performance.

RE: Yay Boeing
By Ringold on 4/27/2007 1:14:45 PM , Rating: 2
It's my understanding they get a lot of 0% interest rate debt issued by the EU partners, but.. I suspect you're still right; at the first hint of serious trouble, the partner governments would erase that debt.

The amount of government assistance that goes on with both companies just can't be compared. Airbus is for all practical purposes a branch of the European Union, not a privately held company, and in that sense doesn't deserve to be compared to a company that survives off of competition such as Boeing. And, btw, Boeing does have to compete for that military contract work with deadly-serious competitors, so even any R&D that is borrowed from one part of the company and used elsewhere (which is only a smart thing to do) was borne in the fires of competition. Competition which doesn't take place at any level of Airbus.

Anyway, yes. Comparisong Boeing to Airbus is apt to comparing the US Post Office to UPS or Fedex.

RE: Yay Boeing
By saratoga on 4/27/2007 12:10:37 AM , Rating: 2
Airbus and Boeing are both heavily supported by their respective nations.

RE: Yay Boeing
By Mclendo06 on 4/26/2007 6:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
Aerospace manufactured goods have always been one of the most exported items of the United States, in large part because so many foreign airlines purchase Boeing planes.

"Discusses Ways to Improve Efficiency"
By Souka on 4/26/2007 12:49:04 PM , Rating: 2
"Discusses Ways to Improve Efficiency"

How about the whole industry?

Charge passengers by the pound, including their carry on and luggage. It'd might be better for the envoirnment too since people might not pack as much...which saves fuel use.

My $.02 of useless opinion....

(oh crud...efficiency...I thought it meant FUEL efficiency...oh well, still posting)

RE: "Discusses Ways to Improve Efficiency"
By asliarun on 4/26/2007 2:41:49 PM , Rating: 1
If Boeing and Airbus are so concerned about increasing fuel efficiency, why don't they simply slap on solar panels on top of the fueslage and if possible, wings?? At the altitude that airliners cruise, good strong sunlight is a guarantee, at least during the day. I'm sure that the fuselage surface area on top is big enough that solar panels can provide a substantial amount of "free" electricity.

It would be an interesting back-of-the-envelope calculation for us to do as well.

Having said that, mine is a completely lay comment, so perhaps, I'm not considering some basic flaw in my theory.

By stromgald on 4/26/2007 3:48:23 PM , Rating: 2
It would be hard to get solar cells on planes. Aircraft go through a ton of wear and tear over their lifetimes. Much of the aluminum skin is replaced on current aircraft. The new dreamliner poses new problems since it's composite skin will also need repair, which will be more difficult and expensive than tearing off some aluminum sheet metal and riventing a new one on.

It would be like trying to build solar panels into a car roof. Current solar cell technology just isn't robust enough to handle the wear and tear, or if it's robust enough, it's probably prohibitively expensive, especially if you have to replace them every few years.

RE: "Discusses Ways to Improve Efficiency"
By masher2 on 4/26/2007 3:52:19 PM , Rating: 2
The basic flaw is that solar panels have mass; parasitic weight losses would be far larger than the minimal gains in energy one would get from the panels themselves.

A 747 in flight is generating about 70,000 kW of power while cruising, and over twice that during takeoff. It has about 400 meters of wing area upon which you could put solar panels. That would generate on the average about 40 kW of power...not exactly a huge help. At a guess, 400 meters of panels would add at least 1000 lbs of weight which, even assuming they didn't require any reinforcement of the wing itself, would cost considerably more in fuel than you'd save from the 'free' electricity.

By masher2 on 4/26/2007 3:56:10 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, 1000 lbs -> 10000 lbs (assuming 25 lbs/ sq meter for panels and wiring)

By Wonga on 4/26/2007 5:43:16 PM , Rating: 2
My thoughts exactly.

Density is related to mass
By waryman on 4/26/2007 6:48:44 PM , Rating: 1
Density is just a ratio of a materials mass to its volume. When using like means of measurement, it shows that titanium is heavier than aluminum. You need to use density as the choice of measurement to compare mass, as the mass number is an arbitrary number unless you are comparing equal volumes of the materials. So to the jackass that said that density has nothing to do with mass you are wrong. (and stupid)

RE: Density is related to mass
By waryman on 4/26/2007 6:49:24 PM , Rating: 1
That is chronoreverse who is the complete moron

RE: Density is related to mass
By timmiser on 4/26/2007 7:33:20 PM , Rating: 3
You had a pretty interesting comment until it all went to hell in your last sentence.

Novel Concept
By mindless1 on 4/27/2007 2:12:25 AM , Rating: 2
Here's a novel concept - If you don't like the product, don't buy it. Do not pay them and THEN pretend you are eco friendly, that is an insult. The only sure way to improve efficiency is to withold the proceeds until you can buy the product you "supposedly" claim to want.

It's a bit late to wait till after buying and then make the greedy claim "we want it to have higher fuel efficiency". You got what you paid for, quit yer whining and apologize for trying to deceive the public.

RE: Novel Concept
By evildorf on 4/27/2007 5:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
What on earth are you talking about?

A Specific Plane for a Specific Route
By BCanR2D2 on 4/27/2007 3:47:12 AM , Rating: 2
This plane has been designed to handle the Trans-Atlantic hop as it's primary target, which I would assume is a predominantly US-UK airline based market, hence the customers buying them. Their application outside of this, whilst not limited, is less than optimal, perhaps East-West Coast USA flights and to Central America are their other main uses.

Airbus is looking for the longer haul flights, something to compete with the 30 year old 747. It's like comparing a 4WD to a normal sedan. Whilst both can do similar jobs on any terrain, they both have their advantages in certain areas...

By Eris23007 on 4/30/2007 4:49:52 PM , Rating: 2
Max range, 787-9: 8000-8500 nautical miles (nm) or 14800-15750 km

Max range, 747-400ER: 7670 nm or 14205 km

Max Range, 777-200LR: 9420nm or 17446 km

Max range, A380: 8000 nm or 14800 km

Max range, A340-500: 9000nm or 16700km

Max range, A350XWB-900R: 9500nm or 17600km

Note that the A350XWB-900R is not slated for release for a minimum of 5 years, probably longer.

Based upon the above data, your argument appears critically flawed. In fact, much the opposte - Airbus's primary strategy was to target major hub-to-hub flights, hence the >550-passenger capacity of the A380. Note that the A350XWB is still in the early design phase - they are reacting to Boeing at this point, and having a beast of a time.

While Airbus was busy developing the A380, Boeing decided to throw their resources into a much more efficient, point-to-point air travel approach, enabling long-distance runs to medium size airports (the classic example is Denver, which would really benefit from flights directly to/from Tokyo, Beijing, London, Paris, etc.). Boeing's strategy focused on enabling new routes, which would drive the purchase of additional airplanes, and at the moment, that strategy appears quite sound.


Mach .85
By drinkmorejava on 4/26/2007 7:39:52 PM , Rating: 3
"As a result, the Dreamliner will have a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 and will consume about 20 percent less fuel than its comparably-sized rivals."

The phrasing makes it sound as if the lower weight has allowed it to achieve a speed of Mach .85, however, the reasons have far more to do with airfoil design and transonic regions than weight. M .85 is simply the fastest the aircraft can going without experiencing a significant increase in drag due to parts of the airframe becoming supersonic.

B787 & A350XWB maintenance
By Amiga500 on 4/27/2007 9:22:58 AM , Rating: 2
The interesting development with the two aircaft (Dreamliner and its Airbus competitor, the 350XWB) will be how easy the composite parts are to maintain.

With composites becoming primary load bearing structures for the first time on civilian aircraft, testing methods will need to be extensive, reliable, but quick and cheap at the same time.

How both shape up will be very important in the future, as I'm sure its stipulated in most of the contracts.

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