As a (too) frequent traveller, I'm always on the watch for the latest technology in air travel comfort. I was excited enough when I experienced the A380 Airbus (see article) "super-jet" first-hand, but have been beside myself waiting the availability of flights on Boeings newest baby, the 787 Dreamliner, which was scheduled to have it's first test flight this year.
The latest nightmare for Boeing in the Dreamliner venture has been caused by labour issues. A delay in the maiden flight of the plane will most likely push back the first deliveries to early 2010. The Dreamliner project was first kicked-off in 2004 with a record order from All Nippon Airways. Now the Japanese company will not receive delivery until the first quarter of 2010 - about two years later than promised.
On November 4, Boeing announced that it would need to postpone the first test flight of the Dreamliner because of issues with fasteners, as well as the effects of a 58-day machinist strike. At the time, Boeing provided no new forecast on how long the delays were expected to last. There is a real chance now that customers could well ask for compensation from Boeing to satisfy the late deliveries.
The Dreamliner is Boeing's first new model aircraft in more than a 10-years. The key competition of course is the Airbus A380. Both companies are suffering from downturn in demand in the aviation market as a direct result of the global financial crisis.
Oh well - in the meantime, I'll just keep looking at the pictures and videos, and 'dream' about flying on this 'state of the art' aircraft.
BOEING 787 DREAMLINER PHOTO GALLERY:
1. Fuel efficiency ... Boeing says the new 787 will use up to 20 per cent less fuel that comparably-sized commercial airliners. Picture: Boeing Corporation
2. Vaulted ceiling ... the 787's expansive cabin entrance gives passengers a sense of having arrived on board an innovative plane. Picture: Boeing Corporation
3. Sun up to sundown ... Cabin "mood" lighting imitates the natural day cycle. "During the flight we run you through night, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night. We adjust you to the time zone you are travelling to," said Jeff Robinson, Boeing Director of Brand Marketing. Picture: Boeing
4. Clever ... no blinds to pull down, the Dreamliner windows may be dimmed electronically at the touch of a button. At 48cm, the 787 windows are larger than those on competitors' planes and give the cabin a more spacious feel. Picture: Boeing
5. Fresher air ... higher pressure and lower altitude brings more oxygen into the cabin. Boeing says it has invested in a more efficient air purification system and lifted air humidity levels. Picture: Boeing Corporation
6. Cabin air pressure .... Boeing tested 500 people to determine what altitude pressure in the cabin was most comfortable for passengers. The result led the cabin pressure of the Dreamliner being set at 6000 feet (1830m), rather than 8000 feet (2440m). Picture: Boeing
7. Smooth ride ... models of the 787 spent 15,000 hours being tested in wind tunnels. "The plane will sense the gust, and actually use the control surface of the plane to damp out the vibrations," said Dr Dianne McMullin Boeing Director of 787 Ride Quality. Picture: Boeing
8. Stuff it ... no more carry-on about the lack of storage in cabin, the 787 overhead luggage bins are 30 per cent larger than comparable airplane carry on storage areas. Picture: Boeing Corporation
9. Full barrel ... "Using composites on the 787 airframe (has enabled us) to build ... (the plane) from six major end items (which come) together in final assembly," Boeing has said. Picture: Boeing