The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. It seats 210 to 330 passengers, depending on the variant. Boeing states that it is the company's most fuel-efficient airliner and the world's first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction. The 787 consumes 20% less fuel than the similarly-sized Boeing 767. Some of its distinguishing features include a four-panel windshield, noise-reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles, and a smoother nose contour.
The aircraft's initial designation was 7E7, prior to its renaming in January 2005. The first 787 was unveiled in a roll-out ceremony on July 8, 2007, at Boeing's Everett assembly factory, by which time it had become the fastest-selling wide-body airliner in history with 677 orders. By March 2011, 835 Boeing 787s had been ordered by 56 customers. As of 2011, launch customer All Nippon Airways has the largest number of 787s on order.
The 787 development and production has involved a large-scale collaboration with numerous suppliers around the globe. It is being assembled at the Boeing Everett Factory in Everett, Washington. Aircraft will also be assembled at a new factory in North Charleston, South Carolina. Both sites will deliver 787s to airline customers. Originally planned to enter service in May 2008, the project has suffered from repeated delays and is now more than three years behind schedule. The airliner's maiden flight took place on December 15, 2009, and it is currently undergoing flight testing with a goal of receiving certification in mid-2011 and entering service with All Nippon Airways in the third quarter of 2011.
On April 26, 2004, Japanese airline All Nippon Airways became the launch customer for the 7E7 Dreamliner, by announcing a firm order for 50 aircraft with deliveries to begin in late 2008. All Nippon Airways's order was initially specified as 30 787-3, 290–330 seat, one-class domestic aircraft, and 20 787-8, long-haul, 210–250 seat, two-class aircraft for regional international routes such as Tokyo Narita–Beijing. The aircraft would allow All Nippon Airways to open new routes to cities not previously served, such as Denver, Moscow, and New Delhi. The 787-3 and 787-8 were to be the initial variants, with the 787-9 entering service in 2010.
The 787 was designed to become the first production composite airliner, with the fuselage assembled in one-piece composite barrel sections instead of the multiple aluminum sheets and some 50,000 fasteners used on existing aircraft. Boeing selected two new engine types to power the 787, the General Electric GEnx and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000. Boeing claimed the 787 would be near to 20% more fuel-efficient than the 767, with one-third of the efficiency gain from the engines, another third from aerodynamic improvements and the increased use of lighter-weight composite materials, and the final third from advanced systems.
During the design phase, the 787 underwent extensive wind tunnel testing at Boeing's Transonic Wind Tunnel, QinetiQ's five-meter wind tunnel at Farnborough, UK, and NASA Ames Research Center's wind tunnel, as well as at the French aerodynamics research agency, ONERA. The final styling of the aircraft was more conservative than earlier proposals, with the fin, nose, and cockpit windows changed to a more conventional form. By the end of 2004, customer-announced orders and commitments for the 787 reached 237 aircraft. Boeing initially priced the 787-8 variant at US$120 million, a low figure that surprised the industry. In 2007, the list price was US$146–151.5 million for the 787-3, US$157–167 million for the 787-8 and US$189–200 million for the 787-9.
After stiff competition, Boeing announced on December 16, 2003, that the 787 would be assembled in its factory in Everett, Washington. Instead of building the complete aircraft from the ground up in the traditional manner, final assembly would employ just 800 to 1,200 people to join completed subassemblies and to integrate systems. Boeing assigned its global subcontractors to do more assembly themselves and deliver completed subassemblies to Boeing for final assembly. This approach was intended to result in a leaner and simpler assembly line and lower inventory, with pre-installed systems reducing final assembly time by three-quarters to three days.
Assembly of Section 41 of a Boeing 787
Subcontracted assemblies included wing manufacture (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan, central wing box) horizontal stabilizers (Alenia Aeronautica, Italy; Korea Aerospace Industries, South Korea); fuselage sections (Global Aeronautica, Italy; Boeing, North Charleston, USA; Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Japan; Spirit AeroSystems, Wichita, USA; Korean Air, South Korea); passenger doors (Latécoère, France); cargo doors, access doors, and crew escape door (Saab, Sweden); floor beams (TAL Manufacturing Solutions Limited, India); wiring (Labinal, France); wing-tips, flap support fairings, wheel well bulkhead, and longerons (Korean Air, South Korea); landing gear (Messier-Dowty, France); and power distribution and management systems, air conditioning packs (Hamilton Sundstrand, Connecticut, USA). Boeing is considering bringing construction of the 787-9 tail in house; the tail of the 787-8 is currently made by Alenia.
To speed delivery of the 787's major components, Boeing modified several used 747-400s into 747 Dreamlifters to transport 787 wings, fuselage sections, and other smaller parts. Japanese industrial participation was very important to the project, with a 35% work share, the first time Japanese firms had taken a lead role in mass production of Boeing airliner wings, and many of the subcontractors supported and funded by the Japanese government. On April 26, 2006, Japanese manufacturer Toray Industries and Boeing announced a production agreement involving US$6 billion worth of carbon fiber, extending a 2004 contract and aimed at easing production concerns.
Boeing had originally planned for a first flight by the end of August 2007 and premiered the first 787 at a rollout ceremony on July 8, 2007, which matches the aircraft's designation in the US-style month-day-year format (7/8/07). However, the aircraft's major systems had not been installed at that time, and many parts were attached with temporary non-aerospace fasteners requiring their later replacement with flight fasteners. Although intended to shorten the production process, 787 subcontractors initially had difficulty completing the extra work, because they could not procure the needed parts, perform the subassembly on schedule, or both, leaving remaining assembly work for Boeing to complete as "traveled work".
On September 5, Boeing announced a three-month delay, blaming a shortage of fasteners as well as incomplete software. On October 10, 2007, a second three-month delay to the first flight and a six-month delay to first deliveries was announced due to problems with the foreign and domestic supply chain, including an ongoing fastener shortage, the lack of documentation from overseas suppliers, and continuing delays with the flight guidance software. Less than a week later, Mike Bair, the 787 program manager was replaced. On January 16, 2008, Boeing announced a third three-month delay to the first flight of the 787, citing insufficient progress on "traveled work". On March 28, 2008, in an effort to gain more control over the supply chain, Boeing announced that it planned to buy Vought Aircraft Industries' interest in Global Aeronautica; the company later agreed to also purchase Vought's North Charleston, S.C. factory.
On April 9, 2008, Boeing officially announced a fourth delay, shifting the maiden flight to the fourth quarter of 2008, and delaying initial deliveries by around 15 months to the third quarter of 2009. The 787-9 variant was postponed to 2012 and the 787-3 variant was to follow with no firm delivery date. On November 4, 2008, the company announced a fifth delay due to incorrect fastener installation and the Boeing machinists strike, stating that the first test flight would not occur in the fourth quarter of 2008. After assessing the 787 program schedule with its suppliers, Boeing confirmed on December 11, 2008 that the first flight would be delayed until the second quarter of 2009.
On June 15, 2009, during the Paris Air Show, Boeing said that the 787 would make its first flight within two weeks. However, on June 23, 2009, Boeing announced that the first flight is postponed "due to a need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft". Boeing provided an updated 787 schedule on August 27, 2009, with the first flight planned to occur by the end of 2009 and deliveries to begin at the end of 2010. The company expects to write off US$2.5 billion because it considers the first three Dreamliners built unsellable and suitable only for flight tests.
Boeing announced on July 15, 2010, that the first delivery to launch customer All Nippon Airways could slip into 2011, and on August 27, 2010 it confirmed that the first delivery would be delayed until early 2011. Boeing and Rolls-Royce state a lack of Trent 1000 engines as the cause, following shutdown of Rolls-Royce's test facility after a blowout in a Trent 1000 during ground testing on August 2. In August 2010, it was announced that Boeing was facing a US$1 billion compensation claim from Air India due to the delays for the 27 Dreamliners it has on order.
In early November 2010, it was reported that some early 787 deliveries may be delayed, in one case some three months, to allow for rework to address issues found during flight testing. In January 2011, Boeing announced that the first 787 delivery was rescheduled to the third quarter of 2011 due to software and electrical updates following the in-flight fire in November 2010.
On April 20, 2011 the National Labor Relations Board found that Boeing's second production line for the 787 in South Carolina violated two sections of the National Labor Relations Act.
On December 15, 2009, Boeing conducted the Dreamliner's maiden flight with the first 787-8, originating from Snohomish County Airport in Everett, Washington at 10:27 am PST, and landing at Boeing Field in King County, Washington at 1:35 pm PST. Originally scheduled for four hours, the test flight was shortened to three hours because of bad weather. Boeing's schedule called for a 9-month flight test campaign (later revised to 8.5 months). The company's previous major aircraft, the 777, took 11 months with nine aircraft, partly to demonstrate 180-min ETOPS, one of its main features.
The 787 flight test program is composed of 6 aircraft, ZA001 through ZA006, four with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines and two with GE GEnx-1B64 engines. The second 787, ZA002 in All Nippon Airways livery, flew to Boeing Field on December 22, 2009 to join the flight test program; the third 787, ZA004 joined the test fleet with its first flight on February 24, 2010, followed by ZA003 on March 14, 2010. On March 24, 2010, testing for flutter and ground effects was completed, clearing the aircraft to fly its entire flight envelope.
The longest-range 787 variant can fly 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,700 km), enough to cover the Los Angeles to Bangkok or New York City to Taipei routes. It will have a cruising airspeed of Mach 0.85 (561 mph, 903 km/h at typical cruise altitudes). The 787-8 and −9 will be certified to 330 minute ETOPS capability. External features include raked wingtips and engine nacelles with noise-reducing serrated edges. The two different engine models compatible with the 787 use a standard electrical interface to allow an aircraft to be fitted with either Rolls-Royce or General Electric engines. This aims to save time and cost when changing engine types; while previous aircraft can have engines changed to those of a different manufacturer, the high cost and time required makes it rare. In 2006, Boeing addressed reports of an extended change period by stating that the 787 engine swap was intended to take 24 hours. engine interchangeability, it is reported, makes the 787 a more flexible asset to airlines, allowing them to change easily from one manufacturer's engine to the other if required.
The 787 features lighter-weight construction. Its materials, listed by weight, are 50% composite, 20% aluminum, 15% titanium, 10% steel, and 5% other; the aircraft will be 80% composite by volume. Each 787 contains approximately 35 short tons of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), made with 23 tons of carbon fiber. Aluminum is used on wing and tail leading edges, titanium used mainly on engines and fasteners, with steel used in various places.
Carbon fiber composites have a higher strength-to-weight ratio than traditional aircraft materials, and help make the 787 a lighter aircraft. Composites are used on fuselage, wings, tail, doors, and interior. Boeing had built and tested the first commercial aircraft composite section while examining the Sonic Cruiser concept nearly five years before; the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey military transport uses over 50% composites, and the C-17 has over 16,000 lb (7,300 kg) of structural composites.
In 2006, Boeing launched the 787 GoldCare program. This is an optional, comprehensive life-cycle management service whereby aircraft in the program are routinely monitored and repaired as needed. This is the first program of its kind from Boeing: Post-sale protection programs are not new, but have usually been offered by third party service centers. Boeing is also designing and testing composite hardware so inspections are mainly visual. This will reduce the need for ultrasonic and other non-visual inspection methods, saving time and money.
The 787-8 is designed to seat 234 passengers in a three-class setup, 240 in two-class domestic configuration, and 296 passengers in a high-density economy arrangement. Seat rows can be arranged in four to six abreast in first or business (e.g., 1–2–1, 2–2–2), with eight or nine abreast in economy (e.g., 3–2–3, 2–4–2, 3–3–3). Typical seat room ranges from 46 to 61 in (120 to 150 cm) pitch in first, 36 to 39 in (91 to 99 cm) in business, and 32 to 34 in (81 to 86 cm) in economy.
Cabin interior width is approximately 18 feet (547 cm) at armrest, 1 inch (2.5 cm) over what was originally planned, and 15 in (38 cm) greater than that of the Airbus A330 and A340, while 5 in (13 cm) less than the A350 and 16 in (41 cm) less than the 777. For economy class in 3–2–3 or 2–4–2 arrangements, seat-bottom widths will be 18.5 in (47 cm), comparable to that found on the Boeing 777, and recommended by detailed passenger ergonomics studies; for 3–3–3 and the 2–5–2 maximum passenger density layout, seat widths would be 17.18 in (43.55 cm), with most airlines expected to select the 3–3–3 maximum passenger density configuration. Boeing engineers designed the 787 interior to better accommodate persons with mobility, sensory, and cognitive disabilities. For example, a 56-inch (142 cm) by 57-inch (145 cm) convertible lavatory includes a movable center wall that allows two separate lavatories to become one large, wheelchair-accessible facility.
The 787's cabin windows are larger in area than all other civil air transports in-service or in development, with dimensions of 10.7 by 18.4 in (27 by 47 cm), and a higher eye level so passengers can maintain a view of the horizon. Electrochromism-based "auto-dimming" (smart glass) instead of window shades reduces cabin glare while maintaining transparency. These are to be supplied by PPG Industries. Standard for the first time on a jetliner, cabin lighting uses light-emitting diode (LED) in three colors instead of fluorescent tubes, allowing the aircraft to be entirely 'bulbless' and have 128 color combinations.
The internal pressure will be increased to the equivalent of 6,000 feet (1,800 m) altitude instead of the 8,000 feet (2,400 m) on conventional aircraft. According to Boeing, in a joint study with Oklahoma State University, this will significantly improve passenger comfort. A higher cabin pressure is possible in part because of better properties of composite materials. Higher humidity in the passenger cabin is possible because of the use of composites, which do not corrode. Cabin air is provided by electrically driven compressors using no engine-bleed air. An advanced cabin air-conditioning system provides better air quality: Ozone is removed from outside air; HEPA filters remove bacteria, viruses, and fungi; and a gaseous filtration system removes odors, irritants, and gaseous contaminants.
While Boeing had been working to trim excess weight since assembly of the first airframe began, common for new aircraft in development, the company has stated that the first six 787s will be overweight, with the first aircraft expected to be 5,000 lb (2,270 kg) heavier than specified. The seventh and subsequent aircraft will be the first optimized 787s and are expected to meet all goals, with Boeing working on weight reductions. Boeing has redesigned some parts and made more use of titanium. According to International Lease Finance Corporation's (ILFC) Steven Udvar-Hazy, the 787-9's operating empty weight is around 14,000 lb (6,350 kg) overweight, which also could be a problem for the proposed 787-10. In early 2009, a number of 787 customers started to publicly mention their dissatisfaction with the weight and range issues.
In May 2009, a press report indicated a 10–15% range reduction, about 6,900 nmi (12,800 km) instead of the originally promised 7,700 to 8,200 nmi (14,800–15,700 km), for early aircraft that were about 8% overweight. Substantial redesign work is expected to correct this, which will complicate increases in production rates; Boeing stated the early 787-8s will have a range of almost 8,000 nmi (14,800 km). There have also been reports that this led Delta to delay deliveries of 787s it inherited from Northwest in order to take later planes that may be closer to the original estimates. Other airlines are suspected to have been given discounts to take the earlier models. Shanghai Airlines stated in March 2009 it wished to either delay or cancel its first order. Boeing expects to have the weight issues addressed by the 21st production model.