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Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is no more a dream

Seattle. It is a wait which seems to be getting over. Time doesn’t seem far when Boeing’s big dream becomes a reality. The third flight test airplane, ZA003, had a partial interior that provided a glimpse into the new flying experience the airplane will offer.

The interior includes 135 seats, multiple lavatories and two crew rests. Certifying the interior components involves analyses and testing of the lighting, lavatories, stowage bins, dimmable windows and galleys.

Configured for flight-testing purposes, the interior of this aircraft includes instrumentation racks, flight-test equipment and workstations for engineers.

“This airplane is specifically configured to test the passenger experience elements of the airplane,” said Tom Galantowicz, director of 787 Interiors, Commercial Airplanes. “Our engineers and flight-test team use a disciplined process to certify the various elements of the interior and conduct airplane-level verifications.”

“Our team is making great progress and is looking forward to getting this airplane in the air later this month,” Galantowicz added. Flight testing will continue in the months ahead. Delivery of the first 787 to launch customer ANA (All Nippon Airways) of Japan is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

According to Boeing, since the first flight in mid-December, the test program has conducted 15 flights and achieved several important accomplishments. The test airplane has reached an altitude of 30,000 feet and a speed of Mach 0.65 (close to 400 nautical miles per hour) with nearly 60 hours of flying time completed. During these flights, initial stall tests and other dynamic maneuvers have been run together with an extensive check of the airplane’s systems.

So far, six different pilots have been behind the controls of the 787. Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, said test results have met all the expectations and have matched the pilots’ experience in simulations they have run.

In the weeks ahead, the team will continue to expand the flight envelope and bring the 787 to an altitude of more than 40,000 feet and a speed of Mach 0.85 (about 420 nautical miles per hour). Subsequent testing will push the airplane beyond expected operational conditions.

The revolutionary composite materials used to build Boeing’s Dreamliner 787 passenger jet look set to transform the civil aviation industry forever, say officials. The lighter weight of the aircraft’s component materials allow the Dreamliner to make massive savings on fuel – around 20% less than similar-sized planes.

Boeing officials are confident that the composite plastics that make up around 50% of the plane are twice as strong as conventional materials, lighter than aluminium and offer greater resistance to fire. The state-of-the-art carbon fibre composites are being used in the fuselage of this new commercial passenger jet.

All eyes are on Seattle, waiting to see the aircraft rolling for its maiden commercial flight.

Will some Indian airlines follow the Japanese way, is actually the million dollar question. But it is to happen, perhaps sooner than later.

Meanwhile, Boeing and United Airlines have finalized an order for 25 787-8 jetliners. The agreement includes the opportunity to purchase another 50 Dreamliners.

“Boeing and United Airlines share an 80-year partnership,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “United, which launched the Boeing 777, now begins a new chapter with the 787 Dreamliner, the most technologically advanced commercial jetliner ever built.”

The order is valued at $4.2 billion at average list prices.

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