US MANUFACTURER Boeing delivered its first B787 to launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) on September 26. Dubbed the Dreamliner, the jet was presented to airline executives by over 500 Boeing employees in a ceremony at its Everett plant in Seattle.
Today we celebrate a significant moment in the history of flight, commented Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. The Dreamliner is the biggest innovation in commercial aviation since the B707 introduced the world to passenger jet travel more than 50 years ago. I want to thank ANA and all of the employees here and at our partner companies for the talent, technology and teamwork that have brought this game-changing airplane to life. As part of the official handover ceremony, ANA CEO Shinichiro Ito was presented with a ceremonial key to the B787 by Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Jim Albaugh. It’s not often that we have the chance to make history, do something big and bold that will change the world in untold ways and endure long after we are gone, said Albaugh. That’s what the Dreamliner is and what ANA and Boeing have done together – build what truly is the first new airplane of the 21st century. Ito added: We are delighted to be finally taking delivery of our first B787. We are extremely proud to be the launch customer for the Dreamliner and to have helped Boeing so closely in the development of this state-of-the-art aircraft. It will enable us to offer unrivalled standards of service and comfort to our passengers and will play a key part in our plans for international expansion.
With the contractual delivery completed on September 25, ANA’s first example, JA801A (c/n 34485), departed Seattle for Tokyo/Haneda Airport early the following day, arriving in Japan at 09:00 on September 27. During the handover, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President Pat Shanahan spoke highly of the B787 development team: Today you join the ranks of the legends of our industry. I have no doubt that 30 or 40 years from now another outstanding Boeing team will be celebrating a new version of the Dreamliner. They will struggle to find the words to express their deep respect and admiration for the hard work you have done in getting us to this day and laying the foundation for a strong future for us and for our industry.
The type will formally enter service on October 26 with ANA planning to operate a charter flight from Tokyo/Narita to Hong Kong. Scheduled domestic services are expected to begin shortly after to Okayama and Hiroshima, while the B787 will make its long-haul debut between Tokyo and Frankfurt in January 2012, following the installation of the Package B upgrade for the jet’s Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.
The landmark delivery comes some 40 months later than originally scheduled, after a series of delays blighted the development programme. The B787 was originally launched in April 2004 and has endured a range of problems from a shortage of fasteners holding up production to supplier disruptions and an in-flight fire during a test flight.
The manufacturer has reiterated its intention to ramp up production of the largely composite B787 to ten aircraft per month by the end of 2013 and with a second production line in Charleston, South Carolina, now under construction, this target is looking achievable. However, delays and supplier acquisitions have resulted in billions of dollars in cost overruns, with recent reports suggesting that the manufacturer would have to deliver best part of 1,000 aircraft before the programme turns a profit – Boeing currently holds orders for 821 examples, at an estimated cost of $1.45 billion. Despite the set backs, the technologically advanced B787, which received its US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification on August 26, offers significant benefits over its rivals, with Boeing claiming that it is 20% more efficient than similarly sized aircraft.
The Dreamliner also offers significant benefits for passengers, with its cabin windows, which are made of ‘auto-dimming smart glass, being the largest of any type currently in service or in development. The cabin is also fitted with the Boeing Sky interior, which includes LED lighting, larger overhead luggage bins and sculpted sidewalls. Comfort is increased further by the higher cabin pressure – the cabin will be maintained at the equivalent of 6,000ft rather than the current industry norm of 8,000ft – and a higher humidity. Externally, the story is similar with the B787, although designed in a similar configuration to many of its predecessors and contemporaries, offering a number of benefits to operators. Composite materials account for more than 50% of the primary structure of the aircraft, including the fuselage and wing, while a choice of engines from General Electric and Rolls-Royce are the biggest contributor to the overall fuel efficiency improvements.
Lee Simonetta travelled to Japan to join the passengers and crew on All Nippon’s first Dreamliner service. For the full story see the January 2012 issue of Airliner World.