Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner - Danielle Style

Since I couldn't think of anything to write about, I thought maybe I would share with you part of my article that I submitted to my work newsletter. I left out the market stuff that I researched because the plane itself is interesting enough to bore you with that. If you're not interested in airplanes, then you can skip this and come back tomorrow.
Dreams of Tomorrow: A Look at the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

On July 8, 2007, the 787 Dreamliner was rolled out at Boeing’s Everett, Washington facility. Representatives from the media and Boeing’s manufacturing partners were present for the occasion. Boeing’s first all-new jetliner since the 777 in 1995 has made waves across the aerospace industry with fresh ideas in material used, ways of manufacturing, and record-breaking intake of orders. Let’s take a look at how this ambitious aircraft came to be and where it’s taking the industry.
The Birth of the 787: In the late 1990’s, Boeing began to take a look at ideas to replace the 767 and to develop a newer 747 as demand for these had decreased. The 767 replacement was called the “Sonic Cruiser”, an aircraft that would fly at speeds of up to Mach 0.98 and offered many new technologies. The Sonic Cruiser had generated interest with US commercial airlines despite concern with the high cost to produce the aircraft.
Boeing was moving ahead with the Sonic Cruiser until the attacks of September 11, 2001. Soon after, the cost of jet fuel skyrocketed and when combined with the projected high production costs the demand for the Sonic Cruiser slacked. Airlines were looking for aircraft that could carry more people for less cost and had become more interested in efficiency than speed. Airbus had begun developing the A380; a super-jumbo jet that would carry up to 555 passengers to various long-range destinations. In order to be competitive in the market, Boeing shifted their gears in late 2002.
Boeing went to the drawing board and decided to abandon the original idea of the high-speed Sonic Cruiser. Instead they offered an alternative product; an aircraft resembling a smaller 777 that they dubbed the 7E7 and put plans for the upgraded 747X on hold. There were questions among analysts about the loss of focus on the 747X with Airbus developing the A380. However, the mid-range market is one where volume and value meet and Boeing opted to focus on their customers’ desires of a more efficient mid-range aircraft.
Boeing continued to work on the design for the 7E7 while keeping some of the technology developed for the Sonic Cruiser. They created a jetliner that would offer customers the efficiency they were looking for as well as being more environmentally friendly than competing aircraft. The plane was eventually named the 787 Dreamliner and it has since become one of the most innovative jetliners in history.
What makes the Boeing 787 so innovative? The first thing that marks the innovation of the 787 is the materials that are being used. The aircraft is made of 50% composite fibers, 20% aluminum, 15% titanium, 10% steel, and 5% other materials. The fuselage is made of 50% composite/20% aluminum - the first aircraft of its kind to offer such a high percentage of composite materials in the fuselage. This is more impressive when compared to the last aircraft Boeing released; the 777’s fuselage is only 9% composite materials and 50% aluminum. The high use of composites makes the 787 very light for its capabilities.
The mainly composite body makes the 787 less susceptible to corrosion, allowing the cabin to be pressurized to 6000 feet rather than 8000 feet. This means higher levels of humidity in the cabin environment, which is more comfortable for passengers. The 787’s use of composites along with systems that run primarily on electricity will help offer 20% greater fuel efficiency, 20% fewer emissions, and 30% less maintenance cost than competing aircraft.
Boeing has selected two engine options for the 787: the GEAE GEnx and the Rolls Royce Trent 1000. Each will have a standard electrical interface that will allow any 787 to be fit with either engine at any time. Boeing’s goal is a 24-hour turn-around time for an engine switch on any 787. This seems quite ambitious; to be able to change engines on an aircraft typically can take 15 days. Not only is interchangeability a highlight of these engines; new developments are expect them to account for as much as 8% of the increased efficiency. The systems for the 787 will rely on as much as 35% less power from the engines because of the primary use of electrical systems.


Doug said...

Anything new interms of features for passengers?

Kimberly Pye said...

Hey! On the way to work this morning the lady on NPR said next year Boston will have nonstop flights to Asia because of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner! And I was all like, "Hey, that's what Danielle wrote about!"

So basically, you're famous. To me anyway.