12:01 PM

Boeing's future
rides on the back
of Dreamlifter

Certainly in this writer's opinion, the most exciting commercial airliner coming at us soon is Boeing's beautiful, efficient and elegant 787 Dreamliner. Sure, they will still be making their other highly desirable models when the -87s enter service, but nothing else in their sales book defines the company's future quite like Dreamliner.

With the 787, Boeing is re-writing the playbook on commercial airliner design and production. A major part of the production of the Dreamliner is happening overseas as part of a worldwide virtual factory system that will build major sections of the plane in Japan. Once completed, these sections will be assembled in the U.S., and transporting them between the two countries will be three Dreamlifters, highly-modified 747s being build by Evergreen Aviation Technologies at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport:

The Dreamlifter represents Boeing's commitment to new production system methods on the 787. It is the first time that Boeing jetliner production will rely primarily on airplanes for delivery of components. Certification of the airplane is expected in 2006. The airplane's unique design will enable the entire aft fuselage to swing open, allowing 787 major assemblies to be loaded and unloaded.
The first Dreamlifter picked up its load of precious cargo recently, to begin a maiden voyage from the Far East to the American Southeast:
The load consists of section 43, a forward fuselage section made by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and section 11/45, the center wheel well and center wing tank, made by KHI and Fuji Heavy Industries and joined at FHI. These were loaded onto the 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter -- now known as the Dreamlifter -- earlier today at Centrair Airport in Nagoya. The large composite parts are destined for Charleston, S.C.
These three Dreamlifters represent possibly the three most important Boeing airplanes flying today, because if the freight forwarding component of Boeing's worldwide 787 production system were to falter, it could spell disaster for the program. The fact that the second Dreamlifter rolled out of the Evergreen facility in Taiwan on January 7 and is being readied for test flights indicates all is on schedule.

I am counting the days until I get to ride in the back of a 787 Dreamliner. Here's the plan: We fly Funkadelic Airlines down to SFO, meet up with my son Michael and his lovely wife JJ, and hijack their future child, who will then be about five years old. We board a sleek, sophisticated 787 bound for anywhere, and it is on this trip – I am hoping – that the wide-eyed grandkid gets his/her fires lit for aviation. And years from now, when he/she gets their private pilot's certificate, they will speak fondly about that flight they took years ago as a young child with Marmie and Dado in a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

It will have been the flight that made them fall madly in love with the sky.

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