07 July 2007

First the Motu, now the Dreamliner

I'm kind of a bit sad I didn't get to work on this plane, the 787 Dreamliner. It is set to roll out tomorrow, 8 July (which is 7-8-07!). Tom Brokaw will be the emcee. You can watch the rollout on satellite or webcast. Millions and millions of parts came together to build this thing!

I was wondering, when I looked at the orders placed at the Paris airshow, why so many orders were made for Airbus products. Of course, my husband thought I was light-years behind not to know that Boeing already had well over 600 orders for the 787 and the next available slot to order a plane is several YEARS out. So, with Boeing's production of the 787 roaring at capacity, the airlines who didn't get in on the ground floor and place their bets when the 787 was in development, have to settle for what's left (Airbus).

What's really interesting is that about 50% of the plane (fuselage) will be built out of composites, with the manufacturers being Alenia (Italy), Vought (South Carolina), and Spirit Aerosystems (Boeing's old Wichita facility), instead of the huge aluminum fuselage pieces being built by a variety of Japanese manufacturers (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Fuji Heavy Industries, etc). This makes the plane much, much lighter. Also worth noting, is bleed air off the engines won't be used to provide cabin pressurization and air conditioning, allowing for greater full efficiency (which is a BIG thing with airlines). Air conditioning and cabin air will all come from outside fresh air. Ah, breathe!

Boeing bet the farm on the 777 and now on the 787. Seems they are poised to take back their #1 position. For more on Boeing and the Dreamliner, go here.

For a YouTube clip on the static load (ultimate load) test on the 777 (not 787) back in 1995, go here. They bend the wings up, up, up, as far as they will go until they fail. And, when they fail you'll know it!! Kind of campy, but VERY cool. Rumor is the 787 wings will be able to touch wing tips above the plane without breaking, but will only be tested to a little over the required 150% to pass the test.

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