Boeing's 787 Dreamliner takes to the skies

A dream delayed, Boeing’s vaunted (and three-years late) 787 Dreamliner has begun flying passengers. The first flight was an ANA charter, from Tokyo to Hong Kong.

It will be a while before you’ll see a “seven-eight” on a tarmac near you. United is the first US airline to fly the craft. When it does appear here, Boeing and the carriers who fly it are betting it will be a legitimate game-changer. Consider:

  • The 787 will be able to span oceans and overfly continents in a single gulp. Depending on specific model, the range of this twin-engine airplane is between 8,200 and 8,500 nautical miles. That puts Houston flights to Auckland within reach.
  • Fifty percent of the 787’s primary structure is composed of lighter composites, instead of metal. Not only does this help curb fuel consumption and render fares reasonable, it also means a more comfortable trip for you. Here’s why: Boeing will be able to introduce a bit of humidity into the cabin. That’s a no-no with metallic aircraft, because moisture can breed corrosion. That humidity does wonders for sinuses and overall well-being on a long 12-hour trip.
  • Inside the cabin, way up there at 35,000 feet, it’s going to feel like you were at 6,000 feet. On other jets, he ambient cabin pressure is 8,000. Couple higher humidity with higher pressure and you’re going to sleep better, feel better, and arrive at your destination in better shape.
  • This is the highest tech airliner ever to take wing. From the LED mood lighting in the cabin to the new-generation GE and Rolls-Royce engines hanging from the wing the 787 is a wonder. These powerplants are significantly more fuel-efficient than their predecessors. That means airlines can keep routes viable, and fares lower than they’d otherwise be. This airplane consumes a full fifth less fuel than earlier airlines. That’s why airlines crave it.

Despite the fact some airlines have cut back on their orders of the decidedly different airplane, Boeing still has some 821 of the rapier-like craft on order.

So, is the dream worth the wait? Would you go out of your way to book a seat on the new 787?

Story by Jerry Chandler

(Image: Ken Mist)