Friday, April 15, 2016

On The Cusp Of The 400th Dreamliner

Boeing started delivering the 787 in the fall of 2011. Since that beginning it has suffered smoke, fire, and groundings. It was stated, Boeing may have a "Bridge Too Far" for its aspirations in the latest generation of aircraft. It was often called the 7 Late 7 as a humorous slam towards its three year late on arrival to the market. The problem was Boeing stuffed the aircraft with a NASA like technological ambitions. It became the commercial airplane answering all the checklist items for a dream machine.

Boeing is on the cusp of delivering its 400th Dreamliner by April's end 2016. What has been validated is enormous. It checked off economy, environment, and customer appeal in one model progression. The innovations discovered, implemented and appreciated have become its legend. The culmination of its journey start is the 395 flying customer versions to date. Even though the reach forward by Boeing was farther than any aircraft framer has ever attempted, it pushed through with a flying record of unprecedented safety. Part luck and mostly innovation has kept the 787 intact and without mishap of a hull loss. Which is a polite way of saying a crash. 

I am not tempting fate by mentioning the word "crash" as with all aircraft types ever built, there have been incidences that make the hair stand on end. The Boeing 787 will be no different over time. It will have its moment or may have already had its moment when something does not go according to plan.

However, Boeing, and as other makers try for perfection, while using its build processes through a continuos improving way, in which to prevent any mishaps. The 787 represents a quantum leap in preventing such an occurrence, other than the things the man cannot control, and with that even weather anomalies become a fly over. The myriad amounts of data tracking, sensing, and onboard systems management found on the 787 has allowed it to complete its maturation until the 400th Dreamliner will be delivered by the end of this month. This blog could have been written last year when it delivered its 300th Dreamliner. But the 400th is a significant milestone because it represents the always improving model of the 20th century carried into the 21st century.

The 400th 787 also is a benchmark comparing against its rival Airbus. The counterpart A350 has only delivered about 20 A350's in comparison. It is a less sophisticated representation with its prolific use of older technology refined from the prior generation of aircraft. 

The 787 is in a class by itself, and that recognition will clearly be found out as time goes forward. The 787 duration in service will over match the A350 duration in service just from its use of conceptual vision of best technology applied to a new airframe. Even though Boeing had its battery problems, it was a risk for something better, and was supported with knowledge that the 787 was not dependent on the Lithium-Ion battery exclusively.

Someday Boeing's competitor may incorporate "787 like architecture" on its own aircraft. Having a core electrical system was logical even though no one had done it before. Electronic window shades was a doable concept Boeing believed it was ready for this implementation. The E-window shade has evolved since the first delivered 787, and now the windows will be a more complete fixture for the customer, as it will be able to give 100% darkening for its customers. The "competitor" was risk averse even on the window shade issue, and still employs window slats for its passengers instead. Even though this was a touch from the 1930's from the curtain era. 

Boeing also centered on an all-electric airplane system where it does not use bleed air bypass energy from its engines, while going with bleed air bypass system it could contaminate the air. The cabin environment has become one of the big issues today where the prior generation cabin air can make passengers sick while using the Bleed Air bypass system as it introduces contaminated air into the cabin. The 787 has the best air for the passenger’s experience period.

Boeing introduce a concept for its flight ride. Sensors determine rough air and make appropriate trim adjustments for muting the effects of turbulence occurring on the typical airplanes today. It provides customer comfort and peace of mind. I know when getting off the airplane usually the first thing spoken to family and friends in waiting is: "it was rough ride going over the Rockies". The 787 provides an environment where a customer remarks about the food service rather than turbulence terror.

The 400th Dreamliner will make you smile as it has a continuous improvement from its first dozen commercial Dreamliners. In fact Ethiopian Airline has purchased one of the terrible teens assembled in 2010. It is bringing its next delivered 787 up to a current standard. The only penalty coming forward is its overall aircraft weight coming from that first run as a heavier than current 787 aircraft coming off the production line. Even having an additional few thousand pounds included from the "early teens", performance is remarkable for the first 787-8.

Boeing is making number 400 for the airline customer and its travelling customer with the same scale of importance for each category. The airplane customer is keenly looking for value, and the Boeing value has increased since its first introduction. The travelling customer wants the experience of flying, as part of its rest and relaxation regimen. Once a passenger leaves the Jet way and boards the 787, the airport part is in the past. Since Boeing has taken special care and technology fashioned for the passenger experience. 

The only thing remaining is determining who will receive the 400th Dreamliner. It may be Etihad receiving a 787-9 on April 26, 2016.

Boeing Photo Credit