(Granthshala) – Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic, once said, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re too small.” He wasn’t referring to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that his airline operates, but it readily applies.
On 26 October the Dreamliner reached its 10-year milestone in service. The branding of the 787 Dreamliner was not just a matter of marketing. The 787, then and now, is one of those game-changing, envelope-pushing aircraft that come along once in a generation.
It takes its place among legendary earth-shrinking vehicles such as the Douglas DC-3, the first modern airliner; Boeing 707, the first successful commercial jetliner; Boeing 747, the first wide-body jumbo jet to buy long-haul travel for the public; and Concorde SST. This elite group, considered “moonshots”, often deploys cutting-edge, exotic technology before it is ready. His paradigm-changing design would influence all the new airliners that followed him. But it will come at a cost.
Ten years ago, that troubled womb was set aside for a historic flight. I was fortunate enough to be a passenger on ANA Flight 7871, the inaugural flight of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in passenger service, operating a special charter between Tokyo and Hong Kong Kai Tak. After nearly eight hard years in development, Boeing’s technical tour de force was finally ready to dazzle the skies for its first customers: airlines and passengers. our flight manifesto Media, ANA staff and nearly 100 aviation enthusiasts were involved who took part in the auction for a coveted seat in history. I’ve covered many first flights, but only the very first flight of the Airbus A380 competed for excitement.
Excitement aboard the first Dreamliner flight.
packed with new features
Under banners with the ANA’s 787 slogan “We Fly First,” ANA and Boeing officials donned Japanese happy coats and led huge crowds in a paper-battle (barrel-breaking) ceremony. Perhaps no one was more excited or relieved that the day had finally come from Scott Fancher, Boeing’s only representative on board and then-Vice President/General Manager of the 787 Program.
Without getting too geeky, it’s worth recalling what made aviation’s latest arrivals such a departure from all aircraft before it. For starters, it was the world’s first all-composite airliner, resulting in a lighter, stronger, and nearly permanent fuselage. Less weight translates into less fuel burning. Main systems such as air conditioning and flight controls once operated exclusively by mechanical hydraulics are now electrically operated. The aircraft also looked different, with electric whiskers instead of hydraulic hiss. Manufacturing was heavily outsourced and this controversial sharing of financial risk was equally innovative and cost-saving. – but ultimately Dreamliner’s biggest failure.
The 787 provided the G-Whiz passenger experience technology in spades. The passengers on that flight were like real-time beta testers gawking at all the new features. LED mood lighting programs bathe the cabin in the full spectrum of colors, from cool aqua and radiant reds on Studio 54 Disco Mode. The windows are not only about 50% larger than on previous aircraft, but are individually electrically tinted, with no window shades. The natural and LED lighting aligns the passenger’s circadian rhythm with the light outside and the final destination, thus the aircraft was designed to combat jet lag on long-haul flights.
Composite fuselages do not rust, and in fact do not age from pressure and de-pressurization cycles. So instead of the bone-dry 3-5% humidity of a traditional aircraft at altitude, a Dreamliner atmosphere measures more like 25%. Similarly, cabins are pressurized at 6,000 feet versus 8,000 feet on more prosaic airliners. These aren’t just gimmicks, but reduce fatigue and increase dehydration and oxygen levels, which especially matters on long flights.
A gust suppression system smooths out rough air and improves over time as more real data is collected. We experienced this turbulence-attenuation system on that first flight when we landed in a cloudy Hong Kong. Even the toilets are high-tech – with touch-sensitive sinks and toilets.
Aboard the inaugural flight in Tokyo.
setting a benchmark
After 4.5 hours, we landed in Hong Kong for a huge celebration in the history books with a lion dancing, drumming, and a brigade of people surrounding the plane ramping up the ramp.
“The 787 set a benchmark. I don’t think we have fully realized the scope of how much it will change expectations for commercial aircraft,” says Tom Sanderson, Boeing 787’s director of product marketing. .
Since that first flight, the 787 has paradoxically been both a dream and a nightmare for its customers. It has enabled over 315 new direct routes, carried over 559 million airline passengers, and completed over 2.7 million passenger-carrying flights. Before Covid hit, the 787 was flying on more than 1,900 routes across the world. Boeing’s small aircraft vision is the clear winner over the Airbus A380 Superjumbo, which Airbus called at the time in 2019.
“The 787 did a remarkable job of getting people where they really wanted to go. Very few people really wanted to go to Frankfurt, and most people who passed through Narita or Heathrow were actually going somewhere else. This jet took them straight to where they wanted to go, which certainly helped stimulate international traffic,” says Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group.
Ecologically, and compared to previous generation wide-body aircraft, the Dreamliner has avoided more than 85 billion pounds of carbon emissions, achieved 20-25% higher fuel efficiency, realized 20-45% more cargo revenue potential and produced 60% less. Airport noise footprint.
ANA’s Shinichiro Ito and Boeing’s Scott Faucher with their boarding passes for the inaugural flight.
The 787 was a resounding sales success as the fastest-selling wide-body aircraft in history, edging out its rivals the Airbus A330neo and A350. As of August 2021, the 787 program had submitted 1,903 orders for its three variants, carrying 336 passengers depending on the cabin layout, with a range of up to 7,530 nautical miles. It has replaced thirsty old aviation giants like the 767 and the first-generation Airbus A330, while hastening the demise of the larger A380, 747 and early 777-200.
An eye-popping 1,006 Dreamliners have been delivered in just over a decade between the two final assembly lines in Charleston, South Carolina and Everett, Washington. The 787 was the first Boeing-designed commercial aircraft to be built out of Puget Sound, Washington, although it is now assembled only in South Carolina. With over 80 customers since launch, TeaTheir backlog is 428, adjusted for ASC 606 accounting standards.
Scott Hamilton, a longtime analyst at the Leahm Company, says, “The economics of the airplane were needed in the wake of 9/11. The aircraft recovered during the Covid pandemic as one of the primary aircraft used as international traffic. Prove your worth.” .
The Dreamliner has been the wide-body most used through the pandemic, based on the percentage of its fleet operations held in storage versus its direct competitors. According to Boeing, about 90% of in-service 787 revenue has returned to service compared to pre-pandemic levels (January 2020 versus August 2021), more than any other commercial airplane type. Several 787 operators used their Dreamliners to haul goods especially at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, generating much-needed revenue as air-freight demand increased.
Chris Sloan checks out the flight deck during the launch event.
dreams become nightmares
Vendor, supply chain, and manufacturing issues, especially with the overall fuselage, plagued the 787 in its early days of development, but surprisingly have reared their head again years later. It’s reprehensible to have such a mature program that peaked at 14 planes per month being rolled off dual assembly lines.
Current 787 deliveries have mostly been suspended during the past year because of quality control programs involving fine-grained tolerances of the fasteners connecting the fuselage barrels together, and additional issues with the electrical systems and windscreen. This has resulted in approximately 100 undelivered 787s, which are under rework. Billions have impacted the company’s cash flow, and the once profitable program has been turned into a big money loss once again on a unit basis. Once delayed these undelivered airframes are subject to cancellation and significant compensation by their customers.
The 737 MAX and 787 problems only annoyed each other. “If the Max crisis had not happened, I doubt the suspension of deliveries would have been short-lived, if it were,” says Hamilton.
Hamilton believes the 787 program has cost an estimated $50 billion in program development, cost escalation and customer compensation. And what is overlooked is the knock-on effect in product development. “If the 787 had been delivered on time, Boeing would have easily been 5-8 years ahead of Airbus. Boeing’s distraction from crisis after crisis has given Airbus a commanding lead in the middle of the narrow-bodied market.”
Boeing’s Sanderson is not defending the delay, but insists that “all 787s in service and on our list are completely safe to fly.” The planner sees a silver lining with applied learning to build new aircraft such as the improved 787 and next-generation 777-9.
Souvenirs from the inaugural flight of the 787 Dreamliner.
dreaming the future
The prospects for the program’s future are generally positive. Hamilton acknowledged “the 787 is a good airplane” and is being further improved with new technology, such as new engines with previous Boeing programs.
Aboulafia sees the greatest threat to the 787, ironically, as the fragmentation that drove its success: “The biggest risk to future 787 orders is the newer, more capable single-aisle jets, particularly the A321 Neo. Which Like the 787 helped destroy trade. In the case of larger jets like the A380, the new more capable narrow body is making the case for thinner routes.”
Boeing’s Sanderson is upbeat, making the case that the 787 is well positioned for new orders after the Covid recovery as airlines begin to grow again and replace older planes over the next twenty years. “We have decades of life left in the program. The structural piece of the airframe isn’t something that would take it out of economic service. There could be modifications and upgrades and things that we wouldn’t have considered on older metal planes. This 787 We have yet to have a composite airplane reach the end of its economic life.”
Credit : www.cnn.com