Print 58 comment(s) - last by stromgald30.. on Dec 18 at 2:47 PM

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner takes-off from Paine Field

  (Source: Boeing)
After a rocky gestation period, Boeing sets off with the 787

It's been a long time coming, but Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has finally made its first flight just days after its taxiing run. After two years of delays, the next generation airliner took to the air at 1:27 pm EST from Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

The flight is expected to last for more than five hours as the pilots test the flight characteristics of the plane and the engineers on the ground crunch the raw data that is streamed back to them. The 787 prototype will land at Boeing Field which is just south of downtown Seattle after the test flight.

This first flight kicks off a nine-month testing phase for the 787 which will conclude with the delivery of the first production aircraft to All Nippon Airways in Q4 2010 – a total of 840 orders have been placed from airlines across the globe.

The 787 prototype is just one of six aircraft that will be used during the nine-month testing period to gain FAA certification.

While Boeing is hoping that most its major hurdles with the 787 Dreamliner are behind it, there will be new competition in the coming years from the Airbus A350 XWB. Like the 787, the A350 XWB's fuselage and wings are made primarily of composites, however, materials like aluminum and titanium materials are also used in the airframe. And also like the 787, the A350 XWB has a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 and promises drastic cuts in fuel consumption.

Airbus has received over 500 orders for its A350 XWB and the aircraft is scheduled to enter service in 2013.

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Pretty sad for Boeing
By sxr7171 on 12/15/2009 1:47:10 PM , Rating: -1
This plane has been delayed so much and now Airbus has a much bigger A380 and an A350 in the works with 500 orders. It seems like Airbus managed to pump out 2 aircraft in the time that Boeing made one.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By Jimmybones on 12/15/2009 1:56:10 PM , Rating: 2
I am by no means an airplane expert but the Dreamliner is a radical departure from the previous constructions methods and appears to be a true make or break decision.

I look at what Airbus has achieved as being able to make a 2010 Honda Accord and producing the Honda Accord Crossover. Yes something was achieved but it isn't a departure from the norm.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By sxr7171 on 12/15/2009 1:59:09 PM , Rating: 2
But the A350 will be right up there. If this plane was finished on time it REALLY would have helped matters.

I suppose Airbus too will suffer with their first composite aircraft. It remains to be seen. I hope Boeing moves quickly to put what they learned into an A380 topper.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By hduser on 12/15/2009 2:14:06 PM , Rating: 2
The A350 is a half step compared to the 787. It remains to be seen if Airbus or Boeing can deliver on their promises of savings and economy.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By Amiga500 on 12/15/2009 2:59:00 PM , Rating: 1
Nah, its pretty much identical.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By stromgald30 on 12/15/2009 5:37:41 PM , Rating: 4
Boeing has no plans to compete with the A380 any time soon. Boeing's own market analysis has identified that the market for the A380 is too small, and they do not want to compete there.

Boeing's 747-8 (upgrade/enlarging) of the 747 will take some of the A380's thunder if it gets any sales, but the fact is that as the infrastructure/airports develop in the middle east and asia, the need for an A380 will diminish.

Boeing's next major project is to take its lesson learned on the 787 and apply it to the upcoming 737 replacement (rumored to be the 797). This attacks Airbus' A320 cash cow and the biggest segment of the market.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By Amiga500 on 12/16/2009 3:50:25 AM , Rating: 2
All the talk is that Boeings next project will be the 777 upgrade/redo.

The single aisle stuff... well, Boeing recently scrapped the 737RS as it wasn't giving the gains they needed to justify the expense.

Both Airbus and Boeing and the engine manufacturers are currently wrestling with the problem of, geared turbofan, propfan or high bypass conventional turbofan... There is alot of work to be done there yet.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By stromgald30 on 12/17/2009 3:18:12 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, Boeing will most likely be updating the 777 since the larger A350XWB's will be competing with the lower end of the 777 passenger range. However, it's not a complete re-design. It's pretty similar to how the 747 was upgraded to minimize the impact of the A380.

However, Boeing's current road map is to replace the 737 first, which is losing badly to the A320, then work on an 777 & 747 replacement.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By Solandri on 12/16/2009 7:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Boeing has no plans to compete with the A380 any time soon. Boeing's own market analysis has identified that the market for the A380 is too small, and they do not want to compete there.

Just to reiterate this, Boeing has pitched a full upper-deck version of the 747 to the airlines ever since they first made the 747. There never has been enough interest in it from the airlines so Boeing never made it. The fact that the A380 is currently sitting at about half the orders it needs to break even is, I think, ample evidence that Airbus overestimated (maybe vastly overestimated) the market for the plane.

I do see demand for a plane the A380's size filling in in the future, as the rest of Southeast Asia modernizes. But the A380 seems a bit premature.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By stburke on 12/15/2009 3:37:24 PM , Rating: 5
I'll bite and thrown down a little lecture here.

First off, congrats to Boeing! It's always exciting to see new things in the air. I wouldn't call the 787 revolutionary in the way we travel, but more of big step in the evolution of a concept design that we've been using for decades. Certainly the manufacturing process is phenomenal and revolutionary given the complexity and the scale. But if you look at it the same design has been in place for decades. The real game changers were to be the Blended Wing Body (BWB), Concorde, and the Boeing Sonic Cruiser. Those aircraft would (did) revolutionize the way we perceive air travel.

Basically Airbus and Boeing have two almost radically different approaches to everything. Whether it be cockpit automation or air route evolution. Airbus took the side of the "Hub" network that we're all so familiar with. If you want to get from A to B, it requires a stopover in Hell, I mean Atlanta. That and the booming middle class in Asia is why Airbus developed the A380. Instead of 2 A330's/767's etc. on the route, a more efficient single plane could do all that lifting, all while freeing up slots at restricted hub airports (HND, LHR, etc.). Boeing initially took this position when the 747-X was introduced, and subsequently short lived. on the other hand Boeing saw a future in point-to-point service. Now instead of having to go through LAX or SFO to get to Tokyo, you could utilize smaller hubs like Denver, Salt Lake City, & Portland. The 787 is the midsize hub's dream. It has the legs to do all the long lucrative routes that airports and airlines want, all while being ~20% more efficient per pax carried.

Initially what Boeing proposed was the Sonic Cruiser. A plane similar in capacity to the 787, but could fly mach .98. Ultimately airlines favored efficiency of speed.

As far as the A350 goes, it was initially a re-engined A330, then a re-engined aluminum-lithium fuselage A330. Then finally, the larger composite A350XWB in development today. Supposedly it offers an 8% reduction in costs over the 787. Airbus (and everyone) saw what a blockbuster Boeing had on its hands and decided it wanted a cut. The re-engined and original A350 were very similar in capacity to the 787 models, so what market was there was already eaten up by Boeing. Airbus was smart and went larger and now they're positioning the A350 more like a 777-200/300 replacement. They're selling quite well now actually. Several airlines have order both the 787 and the A350, including just recently United.

For creature comforts, the 787 does sport a higher cabin pressure thanks to the strengthened fuselage. As well as a higher humidity since there's a smaller chance for erosion on the metal. The A350's cross section is wider than the 787's by about 5in which translates into almost .5in wider seats.

The A350 also doesn't use the full barrel fabrication that Boeing used for the 787 fuselage. There, I have no idea what the repercussions are for that but I can image more parasitic drag on the airframe, and maybe a simpler manufacturing process.

Either way they're both interesting aircraft and have certainly set a new precedent in manufacturing and efficiency. Thanks if you sat through all this!

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By DBRfreak on 12/16/2009 1:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
The A350 also doesn't use the full barrel fabrication that Boeing used for the 787 fuselage. There, I have no idea what the repercussions are for that but I can image more parasitic drag on the airframe, and maybe a simpler manufacturing process.

I'd say that if you use flush fasteners and generous amounts of sealing putty, you can eliminate a good bit of the drag issues. I would guess that most of the issues will come from added weight - maybe thicker edge bands to handle more fasteners and stronger primary structure (stringers, longerons, etc). The benefits should be simplified manufacturing and perhaps simplified maintenance.

I may be completely wrong, however.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By Brandon Hill on 12/15/2009 1:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
The A350 XWB won't enter service until 2013 if all goes as planned.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By amanojaku on 12/15/2009 1:59:17 PM , Rating: 4
It's not all bad for Boeing. There aren't that many airlines that dropped the 787 in favor of the A350 or A380. In fact, most that switched chose existing Boeing aircraft, so Boeing still got paid even if the R&D money is thought of as a waste.

The poor global economy has been slowing travel, so I suspect the delay was a sigh of relief for a few airlines in retrospect. You'll notice that most of the cancellations did not include new purchases of other aircraft from anyone.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By sxr7171 on 12/15/2009 2:02:49 PM , Rating: 2
I suppose you are right. I just hope they are designing something else in the background to catch up when things start looking good again.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By hduser on 12/15/2009 2:10:59 PM , Rating: 2
Well, Boeing has to pay a penalty to airlines because of the delays to the 787. In lieu of paying the penalty, they've offered substantial discounts to these on existing aircraft in production.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By stromgald30 on 12/15/2009 5:43:43 PM , Rating: 2
Boeing is biting the bullet and opening a second line for the 787 out in South Carolina to mitigate the effect of the delays. This should minimize their penalties once they get that production line up and running.

However, one major concern I have (and is also the reason why they didn't plan for two lines in the first place) is what will happen as they finish the back log and demand drops. Then there will be layoffs, bad publicity, and possible plant closures.

Boeing is building the SC plant to help alleviate pressures now, but it remains to be seen if it'll be a good move in the long term.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By Oregonian2 on 12/16/2009 12:14:21 AM , Rating: 2
That won't be unusual. I'm a couple hundred miles south of Boeing's metro Seattle mega facilities, but I've heard stories about how Boeing employment there goes through huge boom/bust cycles (but employees don't mind because they make megabucks during the boom periods).

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By Masospaghetti on 12/16/2009 9:56:30 AM , Rating: 2
Nobody is "dropping the 787 in favor of the A380". The 787 holds ~300 passengers, the A380 seats betwen 500 and 800. Both are designed for completely different markets, the A380 being for the longest transcontinental routes and the 787 for mixed service.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By MozeeToby on 12/15/2009 1:59:43 PM , Rating: 4
Boeing set out with the 787 to maximize profitability for the airlines by reducing costs rather than increasing seats. Only time will tell what the actual fuel and maintenance numbers are for the aircraft but given that many, many flights are flying below capacity these days, a bigger airplane is not always better.

If the maintenance and fuel numbers for the first customers are good, you'll see more orders in the future. If not, Boeing still has a winner just fulfilling orders that have already been placed.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By blowfish on 12/15/2009 2:02:23 PM , Rating: 3
Many of the problems stemmed from the outsourcing of parts of the plane - but like Airbus, Boeing will get better at doing that.

I was quite surprised that Boeing took such a bold step in the introduction of composites for the primary structure, effectively leap-frogging Airbus.

Personally, I'm really looking forward to flying in a 787 and feeling the benefit of better cabin air quality, whilst looking out through larger windows. To date, my favourite "ride" has been the 777.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By walk2k on 12/15/2009 2:34:33 PM , Rating: 1
I just get a spinning wheel on the Boeing page, anyone else?

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By gcouriel on 12/15/2009 3:11:08 PM , Rating: 5
to say that Airbus designed 2 airplanes in the time it took Boeing to design 1 jet shows you did no research. a quick look would have netted you the results, and would have spared us your comment.

according to Wikipedia (i know, not the most trusted source of information, but i don't have the time for more "in depth" research), the Airbus A380 was first conceived in the late 1980's to compete with the 747. it wasn't until 1994 that the designs were finally begun. all told, it's a 13-year turn around from design to first flight (2007). that's building a CONVENTIONAL jet, without experimentation with new, exotic materials.

the A350 XWB was conceived in 2006, following criticisms of the A350 project, and design were modified at that time. it is currently scheduled for release in 2013, but as we've seen, that's not a firm date with anything this complex. that's a 7-year turnaround time from concept (albeit based on an already designed aircraft) to first flight.

the 787 (formerly 7E7) was first conceived in the late 90's, with design beginning in 2003 (as the 7E7). first flight was today, so all told, it's a 6-year turnaround from design to first flight.

here are the websites i looked at:

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By killerclick on 12/15/2009 6:00:53 PM , Rating: 2
The A350 is barely a paper airplane at this time and it will enter into service in three and a half years at best by which time Boeing will nicely ramp up 787 production.
As for the A380, so far it's been a pretty much a commercial failure. Only 200 firm orders while break-even is estimated at ~450. While I'm sure it will be profitable eventually (in 10 years or so), it's still a niche aircraft.

RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By rippleyaliens on 12/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: Pretty sad for Boeing
By delphinus100 on 12/16/2009 4:00:09 AM , Rating: 3
First: Just because we may never own one, doesn't make the technology any less cool.

Second: Even without owning it, there's a pretty good chance that some of us will eventually fly aboard one (in which case, our money does help fill the tanks)...

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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