Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Boeing's 787
Program Passes
a Big Milestone

From the very first day we all laid eyes on Boeing's sexy and sleek 787 Dreamliner, we knew it would be a white hot success. The dramatic lines of that "to die for" cockpit up front, with the cabin of tomorrow carrying lucky passengers in a well-planned environment the likes of which have never taken to the skies.

Soon after Boeing's forward-thinking board of directors granted authority to offer the 787 for sale in late 2003, Boeing began cashing deposit checks and scribing buyer's names in their order book. The first major player that came on board was All-Nippon Airways, doing so in 2004. From that point, when the Dreamliner was only still a far-off dream, orders steadily came in as more information and photos began circulating about the drop-dead gorgeous jetliner.

Since those early years when buyers began claiming those coveted early 787 delivery positions, more and more orders have been placed for Dreamliner. So it is not with any sort of surprise the program has surpassed a big, big mark:
Boeing and London-based British Airways have finalized an order for eight Boeing 787-8s and 16 787-9s, raising the total number of 787s ordered worldwide from 766 to 790 and taking the 787 order book past the 787th mark.
Can you believe that...passing the 787th order mark, without even a test flight? That speaks volumes for the faith the world commercial aviation community has placed on Boeing and the Dreamliner design team.

So what made the Brits drop major dough on more 787s? Good question, and a press release from Boeing has the answers:
The 787 will help British Airways meet aggressive environmental performance targets. It will reduce CO2 emissions and has a noise footprint that is more than 60 percent smaller than those of today's similarly sized airplanes. Common elements between the 787 and British Airways' 777 flight deck will allow for 777 pilots to train for 787 certification in only five days. The 787 also offers more cargo-revenue capacity than the 767 and similarly sized airplanes.
With 790 orders in only three years, the Dreamliner remains the most successful airplane launch in aviation history, according to Boeing. And while you thought you know everything about the 787, I'll bet most people don't know this:
Because of advanced manufacturing techniques, 60 miles of copper wiring have been eliminated from the 787. Much of that reduction came during the 800,000+ hours computing time on Cray supercomputers that the design team used worldwide. On the first barrel section alone, the use of composites – which makes up 50% of overall materials on the 787 – allowed for parts count reductions of 1,500 aluminum sheets and as many as 50,000 fasteners.
O.K., now for the few of you out there who want to remind me that the 787 program is behind schedule, I offer the official release from Boeing on that issue, from October 2007:
The Boeing Company today announced a six-month delay in its planned initial deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner due to continued challenges completing assembly of the first airplanes. Deliveries of the strong-selling Dreamliner are now slated to begin in late November or December 2008, versus an original target of May 2008. First flight is now anticipated around the end of first quarter 2008.
Whether they make that date is not what this post is about. With 790 orders in their 787 book, you can be assured Boeing has pulled out any stops and are pushing hard to get that first Dreamliner flying.

And Oh Baby, when that day comes, will be huge. The minute Dreamliner #1 breaks ground, a new era in commercial air travel will begin. Go ahead, ask me if I care that it is a few months late.