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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 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.


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