March 5, 2008 The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has successfully completed a series of tests revealing how the composite barrel design will fare in extreme weather conditions as part of achieving certification for the aircraft.
Since its premiere in mid-2007, the design and construction of the 787 has been proven in a series of testing scenarios.
By volume the Dreamliner will be 80% composite, making it the first composite airliner in production – a quality that provides a lighter-weight body and 20% more efficiency than its nearest competitors. It features an all-composite fuselage, and its materials by weight are 50% composite, (mostly carbon fiber reinforced plastic), 20% aluminum, 15% titanium, 10% steel and 5% other. In addition to being lighter, composite material is stronger and more durable, allowing higher pressure during flight.
In order to prove the safety of its unprecedented composition, Boeing engineers took the barrel well beyond two and a half times the force of gravity, vastly exceeding what it would encounter even in extreme weather conditions. If further tests go as smoothly as this one, first flight will be achieved in the second quarter of 2008, and the craft will enter into service early 2009.
The 20% leap in efficiency, described as a two-generation jump for the middle of the market, comes from the composition, aerodynamic improvement, and the engines. The General Electric GENX and the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 each provide 55000lb to 70000lb of thrust, and engine interchangeability ensures that the 787 can switch engines if, or when, needed. Other technology has also been improved – Boeing is considering a system that will allow the 787 to self-monitor its health and report maintenance requirements to the ground.
The 787-8 Dreamliner will carry up to 250 passengers up to 8200 nautical miles, at a cruise speed of Mach 0.85. The 787-9 Dreamliner will carry up to 290 passengers up to 8500 nautical miles. The 787-3 Dreamliner will carry up to 330 passengers, and can be optimized for routes of up to 3050 nautical miles.
Since it was announced in 2003, 857 Dreamliners have been ordered from 56 customers, making it the fastest-selling wide body airliner in history.