June 14, 2007

Boeing 787

Boeing 787 Background

Boeing 787 thumbnail imageIn the late 1990s, Boeing began to consider a replacement for the 767 when sales weakened from the competing Airbus A330-200. As sales of the Boeing 747-400 were also slowing, the company proposed two new aircraft—the Sonic Cruiser and the 747X. The Sonic Cruiser would have achieved higher speeds (approximately Mach 0.98) while burning fuel at the same rate as the existing 767 or A330. The 747X, competing with the Airbus A380, would have stretched the 747-400 and improved efficiency by using a composite supercritical wing.

Market interest for the 747X was tepid, but the Sonic Cruiser had brighter prospects. Several major airlines in the United States, including Continental, initially voiced their optimism for the Sonic Cruiser concept, although they also expressed concerns about the operating cost. By decreasing travel time, they would be able to increase customer satisfaction and aircraft utilization.

The September 11, 2001 attacks upended the global airline market. Airlines were unable to justify large capital expenditures, and due to increased petroleum prices, became more interested in efficiency than speed. The worst-affected airlines, in the United States, were considered the most likely customers of the Sonic Cruiser. Boeing offered airlines the option of using the airframe for either higher speed or increased efficiency, but the high projected airframe costs caused demand to evaporate further. Boeing canceled the 747X once Airbus launched production of the Airbus A380, and switched tracks by offering an alternative product, the 7E7.

On April 26, 2004, the Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) became the launch customer for the 787, then still known as the 7E7, by announcing a firm order for 50 aircraft to be delivered beginning in April 2008. ANA's order included thirty 787-3, 290–330 seat, one-class domestic aircraft, and twenty 787-8, long-haul, 210–250 seat, two-class aircraft for regional international routes such as Tokyo Narita–Beijing. The aircraft will allow ANA to open new routes to mid-sized cities not previously served, such as Denver or Montreal. As is common for launch customers in the aviation industry, ANA is rumored to have received a discount of 40–50% off the official list price.

The 787-3 and 787-8 variants will be available first, while the 787-9 will enter service in 2010, despite industry rumors that it would be delayed as orders for the 787-3 and 787-8 sold out early production.

Boeing initially priced the 787-8 variant at US$120 million, a low figure which surprised the industry. Its price has been increased twice since launch. As of 2007, the list price was US$138–143 million for the 787-3, US$148–157.5 million for the 787-8, and US$178.5–188 million for the 787-9.

Customer-announced orders and commitments for the 787 reached 237 aircraft during the first year of sales, with firm orders numbering 569 frames at the end of May, 2007, well before entry into service (EIS). This makes the 787 the fastest-selling wide-bodied airliner ever upon EIS.

Boeing 787 Development
The replacement for the Sonic Cruiser project was dubbed the 7E7 (with a development code name of Y2.) The "E" was said to stand for various things, depending upon the audience. To some, it stood for "efficiency", to others it stood for "environmentally friendly", etc. In the end, Boeing claimed it merely stood for "Eight", after the aircraft was eventually rechristened "787".

The 787 essentially uses the technology proposed for the Sonic Cruiser in a more conventional airframe configuration (see Features). Boeing claims that the 787 will be up to 20% more fuel-efficient than current comparable aircraft. Roughly one-third of this efficiency improvement will come from the engines; another third from aerodynamic improvements and the increased use of lighter weight composite materials; and the final third from advanced systems. The most notable system advancement contributing to efficiency is a "more electric architecture" which replaces bleed air and hydraulic power with electrically powered compressors and pumps. Technology from the Sonic Cruiser and 787 will be used as part of Boeing's project to replace its entire airliner product line, an endeavor called the Yellowstone Project (of which the 787 is the first stage).

Boeing selected two engine types, the General Electric GEnx and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 to power the 787, both placed in pods. Significantly, this leaves Pratt & Whitney, which normally has an entrant in this market space, unable to offer one of its own engines to 787 customers. According to UTC CEO George David, Pratt & Whitney "couldn't make the business case work for that engine." Also, according to industry sources, Boeing may have wished to rely on evolved versions of existing engines rather than the higher-risk option of an all new engine from Pratt & Whitney.

For the first time in commercial aviation, both engine types will have a standard interface with the aircraft, allowing any 787 to be fitted with either a GE or Rolls-Royce engine at any time. Engine interchangeability makes the 787 a more flexible asset to airlines, allowing them to change from one manufacturer's engine to the other's in light of any future engine developments which conform more closely to their operating profile. The engine market for the 787 is estimated at US$40 billion over the next 25 years. The launch engine for all 3 current 787 variants is the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000.

The launch of a new airliner can be expected to draw scathing comments from competitors, Boeing's doubt over the Airbus A380 and Airbus' mocking of the Sonic Cruiser being recent examples. The 787 is no exception, as Airbus' John Leahy has made attempts at refuting all of Boeing's claims, openly criticizing the large-scale use of composites in the 787's fuselage as being "rushed and ridiculous", although Boeing built and tested the first composite section while examining the Sonic Cruiser concept nearly five years ago, making the 787 a significantly refined product. Airbus has offered the competing A350 using derivatives of the turbofans developed for the 787. This new jet will make less widespread use of composites with Airbus preferring aluminum-lithium alloys for the fuselage.

Boeing has stated it is likely to develop a stretched version, "787-10", with seating capacity between 290 - 310. This proposed model is intended to compete with the planned Airbus A350-900. The 787-10 would supersede the 777-200ER in Boeing’s current lineup, and could also be targeted to replace the Airbus A330-300 and A340-300. Emirates Airlines and Qantas have shown interest in such variant which would enter service in 2012. This variant has not yet been officially launched by Boeing, but Mike Bair, head of the 787 Program, has stated that “It's not a matter of if, but when we are going to do it... The 787-10 will be a stretched version of the 787-9 and sacrifice some range to add extra seat and cargo capacity.”

On March 19, 2007, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott Carson and 787 program manager Mike Bair told reporters and investors that Boeing intends to roll out the first 787 on July 8, 2007, which matches the aircraft's designation when using US-style month-day-year format. Boeing will host at Qwest Field on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 3:00 pm PDT a live simulcast on the stadium screens for up to 50,000 employees and retirees as the first 787 Dreamliner rolls out in Everett. The general public can view the rollout via satellite on DirecTV (channel 576) and on DishNetwork (channel 9601), or over the Internet at http://www.boeing.com and http://www.newairplane.com.

Features Features

  • 18.5 in (47 cm) seat-bottom width in economy class in 2+4+2 or 3+2+3 arrangements. Seat widths would be approximately 17.2 in (43.7 cm) for 3+3+3 seating. 17.2 in seats are also found on the Boeing 737. The vast majority of airlines are expected to select the 3+3+3 configuration on the 787.
  • Cabin interior width 50 in (127 cm) from the floor is 18 ft 7 in (566 cm) and was recently increased by 1 inch (2.5cm). The 787's interior cabin width, measured at seated eye level (where width is, according to Boeing studies, actually perceived) is a full 15 in (38 cm) greater than that of the Airbus A330 and A340, but 5 in (13 cm) smaller than the currently expected future competitor, the A350-800 XWB.
  • Two class configuration of 240 seats in two class domestic, with 46 in (116.8 cm) first class pitch and 34 in (86.4 cm) coach class. 296 passengers can be seated in a high density 3+2+3 coach arrangement with 36 in (91.4 cm) Business and 32 in (81.3 cm) Coach pitch. Up to 234 passengers may be seated in a three-class setup that uses 61 in (154.9 cm) pitch in First Class (2+2+2 or 2+1+2), 39 in (99 cm) pitch for Business (2+3+2 or 2+2+2) and 32 in (81.3 cm) for Coach (2+4+2).
  • Cruise speed: 0.85 Mach (561 mph at typical cruise altitudes)
  • The longest range variant can fly 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,700 km), enough to cover the Los Angeles to Bangkok or New York City to Taipei routes.
  • Construction materials (by weight): 50% composite, 20% aluminum, 15% titanium, 10% steel, 5% other. Composite materials are significantly lighter and stronger than traditional aircraft materials, making the 787 a very light aircraft for its capabilities. By volume, the 787 will be 80% composite. This will allow the potential to take off from, and land on, relatively short airstrips as the 767 can, yet still have the capability to fly long-haul distances.
  • The 787 production line will be able to finish an aircraft in as little as three days, compared to 11 days for the 737.
  • Larger windows than any other current in service civil air transport (27 cm by 47 cm), with a higher eye level, so passengers can see the horizon, with liquid crystal display (LCD)-based "auto-dimming" to reduce cabin glare and maintain transparency. These are to be supplied by PPG.
  • Light-emitting diode (LED) cabin lighting (three color), will be used instead of fluorescent tubes, allowing the aircraft to be entirely 'bulbless' and have 128 color combinations.
  • A version of Ethernet – Avionics Full-Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX) / ARINC 664 -- will be used to transmit data between the flight deck and aircraft systems.
  • LCD multi-function displays on the flight deck, all of which will use an industry standard GUI widget toolkit (Cockpit Display System Interfaces to User Systems / ARINC 661). The Lockheed Martin Orion spacecraft will use a glass cockpit derived from Rockwell Collins's 787 flight deck.
  • Bleedless turbofans, allowing elimination of superheated air conduits normally used for de-icing, aircraft power, and other functions. These systems are to be replaced with an all-electrical system.
  • Cabin air provided by electrically driven compressors (no engine bleed air).
  • Higher humidity in the passenger cabin because of the use of composites (which do not corrode).
  • The internal pressure will be increased, to the equivalent of 6000 feet (1800 m) altitude versus 8000 feet (2400 m) on conventional aircraft. This will significantly improve passenger comfort.
  • Boeing is experimenting with several engine noise reducing technologies for the 787. Among these are a redesigned air inlet containing sound-absorbing materials and redesigned exhaust duct covers whose rims are tipped in a toothed pattern to allow for quieter mixing of exhaust and outside air. Boeing expects these developments to make the 787 significantly quieter both inside and outside the passenger cabin.
  • Improved ride quality through Active Gust Alleviation system, similar to the system that Boeing built for the B-2 bomber.

Early concept images of the 787 included rakish cockpit windows, a dropped nose, and a distinctive "shark-fin" vertical stabilizer. The final styling of the aircraft was more conservative, with the fin appearing visually similar to those of aircraft currently in service. The nose and cockpit windows were also changed to a more conventional form. Like other Boeing airliners, the 787 will use a yoke instead of the sidestick found on Airbus designs.

Boeing 787 imageRendering of the Boeing 787

Boeing 787 Production

Boeing will manufacture the 787's tail fin at its plant in Frederickson, Washington, ailerons and flaps at Boeing Australia, and fairings at Boeing Canada. For its entire history, Boeing has guarded its techniques for designing and mass producing commercial jetliner wings. Due to economic and political reasons, the wings will be manufactured by Japanese companies in Nagoya, e.g. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, while the horizontal stabilizers will be manufactured by Alenia Aeronautica in Italy, and the fuselage sections by Vought in South Carolina (USA), Alenia in Italy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan, and Spirit AeroSystems, in Wichita, Kansas (USA).

The passenger doors will be made by Latecoere (France) while the cargo doors, access doors and crew escape door will be made by Saab (Sweden). Japanese industrial participation is very important to the project, with 35% workshare, with many of the subcontractors supported and funded by the Japanese government. On April 26, 2006, Japanese manufacturer Toray Industries and Boeing announced a production agreement involving $6 billion worth of carbon fiber. The deal is an extension of a contract signed in 2004 between the two companies and eases some concerns that Boeing might have difficulty maintaining its production goals for the 787.

From France, Messier-Dowty will build the landing gear and Thales will supply the integrated standby flight display, electrical power conversion system, and in-flight entertainment.

Honeywell and Rockwell-Collins will provide flight control, guidance and other avionics systems, including standard dual head up guidance systems. Future integration of forward looking infrared is being looked at by Flight Dynamics allowing improved visibility using thermal sensing as part of the HUD system, allowing pilots to "see" through the clouds.

Hamilton Sundstrand will provide power distribution and management systems to the aircraft, including manufacture and production of Generator Control Units (GCUs) as well as integration of power transfer systems that can move power from the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) and the main engines to the necessary parts and machinery of the aircraft. They have performed the cold weather tests in Alaska.

The final assembly will consist of attaching fully-completed subassemblies, instead of building the complete aircraft from the ground up. This is a technique which Boeing has previously used on the 737 program, which involves shipping fuselage barrel sections by rail from Spirit's Wichita, Kansas facility to Boeing's narrowbody final assembly plant at Renton, Washington. After stiff competition, Boeing announced on December 16, 2003 that assembly would take place in Everett, Washington, employing 800 to 1,200 people.

The 787 will undergo wind-tunnel testing at Boeing's Transonic Wind Tunnel, QinetiQ's five-meter wind tunnel based in Farnborough, UK, and NASA Ames Research Center's wind tunnel, as well as at the French aerodynamics research agency, ONERA.

The first composite section rolled out in January 2005, and final external design was set in April 2005. On June 30, 2006 Boeing celebrated the start of major assembly of the first 787 at Fuji Heavy Industries' new factory in Handa, Japan, near Nagoya.

Boeing intends to deliver 118 aircraft during the first 18 months of production. Due to customer demand, Boeing is currently considering whether to increase production, if the production capacity of suppliers allows.

On December 3, 2006, Boeing conducted a "virtual rollout" of the 787. Unlike a traditional rollout (which will occur later), it took place without a physical airframe present. Taking computer aided design beyond the aircraft itself, Boeing modeled the manufacturing process, step-by-step and end-to-end, in software. The virtual rollout is intended to discover production issues prior to assembly of the first airframe, when they are cheaper to fix.

On January 12, 2007, first major assemblies, forward fuselage, center wing and center wheel well built by FHI and KHI were shipped on 747-400 LCF from Nagoya, Japan. They were delivered to Global Aeronautica in Charleston, South Carolina on January 15, 2007.

On February 15, 2007, the first production nose section (Section 41) was unveiled at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas. This was the first production nose section, used in the first complete flight-test 787 and represents those used in all subsequent production 787s. It encompasses the cockpit area, nose landing gear well and the forward-most section of the passenger area. The section is oval-shaped (as is the entire fuselage) and is 21 feet (6.4 m) in height, 19 feet (5.74 m) in width and 42 feet (12.8 m) in length.

On March 14, 2007, the first production vertical tail fin was rolled out at Boeing's Composite Manufacturing Center in Frederickson, Washington. On April 16, 2007, the first production all-composite nose-and-cockpit section was rolled out at Spirit Aerosystem's plant in Wichita, Kansas. The 747-400 LCF Dreamlifter delivered the first horizontal stabilizer manufactured by Alenia Aeronautica at its facility in Foggia, Italy to Everett on April 24, 2007. On May 8, 2007, Vought rolled out completed rear Sections 47 and 48 from its factory in Charleston, SC. The sections were flown via the Dreamlifter to Everett, arriving on May 11, 2007 along with the all-composite forward section (section 41) manufactured by Spirit AeroSystems.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. sent the first 787 carbon-fiber wings from its factory in Nagoya to Boeing's main assembly plant in Everett on May 15, 2007. The Dreamlifter delivered the final major assembly, the integrated midbody fuselage, to Everett at 1:58 a.m. on May 16, 2007. Final assembly began on May 21, 2007 in Everett, Washington. Rolls-Royce shipped the first pair of Trent 1000 engines from their Derby, UK facilities on schedule on June 7, 2007 for installation on the Boeing 787.

Boeing 787 Overview

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a mid-sized, wide body, twin engined jet airliner currently under development by Boeing's Commercial Airplanes unit and scheduled to enter service in May 2008. It will carry between 210 and 330 passengers depending on variant and seating configuration. Boeing has stated that it will be more fuel-efficient than comparable earlier Boeing airliners. It will also be the first major airliner to use composite material for most of its construction.

Prior to January 28, 2005, the 787 was known by the developmental designator 7E7. The early renderings released depicted a radical design with highly curved surfaces. On April 26, 2005, one year to the day after the launch of the program, the final look of the external 787 design was frozen with a less rakish nose and a more conventional tail. Boeing has started the final assembly of its Boeing 787 and expects first test flights in August, 2007.

Technical concerns

Engine interchangeability

The two types of engines compatible with the 787 will use a standard electrical interface, potentially allowing any aircraft to be fitted with Rolls-Royce or GE engines at any time. This flexibility will allow an airline to switch from one manufacturer to the other in the event of technological developments which conform more closely to their operating profile. Boeing's goal is to make changing engine types as simple as a standard same-manufacturer replacement.

According to ILFC's Vice President of Marketing, Marty Olson, changing engine types on a 787 could take as long as 15 days and so be economically infeasible. "You'd have to take all the pylon, everything from the wing down, off" Olson said. He went on to complain that Boeing is still promoting the 24 hours change in spite of promises to alter their marketing. Current aircraft can have engines changed to those of a different manufacturer but this rarely happens due to the costs involved. Boeing's response is that the design is not yet finalized and 24 hours remains their goal.

Composite fuselage

The 787's all-composite fuselage makes it the first composite airliner in production. It was suggested by many that the risks of having a composite fuselage have not been fully assessed and should not be attempted. It was also added that carbon fiber, unlike metal, does not visibly show cracks and fatigue and repairing any damage done to the aircraft would not be easy. Boeing has dismissed such notions insisting that composites have been used on wings and other passenger aircraft parts for years and this is a non-issue. They have also stated that special defect-detection procedures will be put in place to negate any concern. In 2006, Boeing launched the 787 GoldCare program. This is a comprehensive life-cycle management service whereby all the aircraft that sign up for this program are routinely monitored and repaired if needed. This is the first program of its kind from Boeing: post-sale protection programs are not new, but have usually been offered by third party service centers. Boeing believes this brings them additional revenue and will also allow them to nullify any concern over maintaining this aircraft for overanxious airlines.

Weight issues

Boeing has been working on trimming excess weight since assembly of the first unit began earlier in 2006. This is typical in aviation for new aircraft during their development phase. The aircraft is first designed on computers and an empty weight is promised to customers to ensure fuel efficiency and payload obligations. However upon assembly, some parts may be manufactured with minor variances that multiply dramatically if the part is used frequently.

Weight issues
The first six 787s built, which are to be used as part of the test program, will be overweight according to Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson, but the seventh, which will be the first to be delivered to an airline customer, is expected to be on target. Boeing has redesigned some parts, and made more use of titanium. The weight target that is pledged to customers is for a "green aircraft" with no interior fittings. Each airline chooses its own seats, and amenities which add weight in varying degrees, but are not related to Boeing's obligations.

Source: Search result of "Boeing 787" at: Wikipedia

No comments: