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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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.

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