Boeing’s Dreamliner

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Also posted on: The Holloway Angle

US plane manufacturer Boeing launched its “technologically advanced and environmentally progressive” 787 Dreamliner—heralded as “the world’s first mostly composite commercial airplane” on Sunday 8th July.

The 787 is the first Boeing aircraft to use RFID to track all its major assemblies as well all consumables such as life vests.

The 787 is made mostly of carbon fibre rather than aluminium and is billed as the most environmentally friendly ever built. The Dreamliner’s green credentials are based on various technological advances, Boeing claims. Its “unmatched fuel efficiency”, which is 20 percent less fuel for comparable missions than today’s similarly sized airplane, is achieved partly by advances in engine technology, which contribute an eight percent saving. Composite materials—representing “as much as 50 percent of the primary structure”—and structural innovations also do their bit. For example, Boeing cites a “one-piece fuselage section” which eliminates “1,500 aluminium sheets and 40,000–50,000 fasteners”.

Boeing has 677 advance orders for the 787 from 47 airlines. This adds up to “more than $110bn at current list prices”, prompting Boeing to declare the aircraft “the most successful commercial airplane launch in history”. It is due to go into service next year, with Japan’s All Nippon Airways set to be the first recipient as a reward for placing orders for 50 of the aircraft.