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The 787 Dreamliner lifts its nose during taxi run  (Source: Boeing)
Boeing's 787 Dreamliner inches closer to its first flight

Boeing's highly anticipated 787 Dreamliner is more than two years late, but things are finally starting to kick into high gear with the aircraft's development. Over the weekend, Boeing test pilots taxied the jet down the runway at 150 mph and managed to lift its nose off the ground [video].

"Our pilots told me the airplane performed beautifully," said 787 chief project engineer Mike Delaney. "We're going through and analyzing the data to ensure we're ready for first flight. From evaluations we've done so far, everything looks good."

While this may seem like a small step to some, this is just the precursor to the big event which is scheduled for Tuesday. On Tuesday at 10 am PST -- if all goes according to plan -- Boeing's 787 will take to the air for the first time. According to HeraldNet, the composite-bodied aircraft will remain aloft for more than five hours as critical systems and flight performance/handling characteristics are carefully monitored.

3News reports that roughly 600 engineers and 400 mechanics will be on hand for the exhaustive nine-month flight testing phase of the program. During this phase, six aircraft will be flown on a regular basis to work out any problems that are bound to crop up during typical flight testing.

The 787 has been plagued with problems during its prolonged development. Most recently, problems with the aircraft's wingbox were discovered. It was found that composite sheets covering the wings were delaminating under stress.

Many of the problems surrounding the 787, however, have come from the fact that much of the production of key components of the aircraft have been farmed out to different contractors around the world.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO and president Scott Carson noted in early 2008, "The fundamental design and technologies of the 787 remain sound," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO and president Scott Carson. "However, we continue to be challenged by start-up issues in our factory and in our extended global supply-chain."

For those that haven't been keeping up with the program, the 787's airframe is composed of 50 percent composites, 20 percent aluminum, 15 percent titanium, and 10 percent steel. The 787 can cruise at Mach 0.85 and uses 20 percent less fuel than a comparable Airbus A330. For those that like to stay connected while in the air, the 787 also features built-in wired networking.

Boeing has 840 firm orders for its sleek 787 Dreamliner as of November 2009.

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RE: haha?
By cocoman on 12/14/2009 8:36:23 AM , Rating: 0
Why not? Patriotic reasons? On a logical reasoning you shouldn´t want to get on a plane like the 787 because it is using unproven build technology. Getting on a A380 should be much safer.

RE: haha?
By rikulus on 12/14/2009 9:20:53 AM , Rating: 5
From my standpoint, there isn't any particular reason to look forward to a flight on an A380, it should be a typical flight experience... just with LOTS of people. The 787 is interesting because:
The composite body allows higher pressurization of the interior due to decreased fatigue of the materials. So it should be a more comfortable, less drying flight.
The windows are larger than other planes, and more importantly higher. So tall people like me should be able to look directly out the window, rather than stooping down to peek out it.
They redesigned the typical shape of the cabin to put the widest point at shoulder level rather than hip level, which should make the plane feel less cramped.
And, there's a better chance I'll actually fly in one, since they will do typical routes. Although, maybe that's a reason to hope for an A380 flight, because that would mean I'm flying somewhere distant and interesting! :)

RE: haha?
By inperfectdarkness on 12/14/2009 9:36:15 AM , Rating: 2
you're still going to dry out. unless they start pumping water vapor into the cabin throughout the flight, it's just going to happen. 30k feet doesn't contain nearly as much moisture as sea level.

RE: haha?
By hduser on 12/14/2009 3:15:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, there's not too much water in the air up there but then again, with higher pressure and warmer temperature, the air in the 787 can hold more grains of water. I think it also uses less bypass air from the engines and the interior cabin of the 787 is filtered more than other designs so it'll retain more moisture than normal designs. The other metal aircraft prefers it to be dry to reduce moisture/corrosion but it's not the case for the 787.

RE: haha?
By HotFoot on 12/14/2009 9:45:16 AM , Rating: 3
Those are exactly the reasons I'm interested in flying in a 787. I thought they might have gotten rid of the larger windows, but the 6000' pressure alone would make me interested in trying it out versus the 767 or A330s I've been on.

And as far as patriotic reasons go... well, I'm Canadian. Boeing does a lot of work in Canada, I suppose, but so do they do a lot of work in Japan and many other countries. It's high time people got a little less paranoid on the web and stopped assuming everyone has an ulterior motive. I meant exactly what I said and nothing else.

RE: haha?
By amanojaku on 12/14/2009 12:29:17 PM , Rating: 2
They redesigned the typical shape of the cabin to put the widest point at shoulder level rather than hip level, which should make the plane feel less cramped.
Hm... I just looked around my office, then at the street. I think wider at the hips would be more comfortable for many people. Maybe we'll see the birth of obesity airlines?

RE: haha?
By gregpet on 12/14/2009 5:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
We flew on the inaugural flight of the first Quantus A380 between LA & Sidney (Oct 2008). Amazing plane but as you stated - nothing really that interesting from the passenger's standpoint. The economy cabin looks pretty much like any wide body plane. The entertainment options were nice and they mounted a camera at the top of the planes tail which is interesting to watch. Seats, windows, legroon - all pretty typical...

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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