Boeing Corporation delivered its newest baby to United Airlines last week, representing the first 787 Dreamliner owned by an American airline, and the first in North America. The milestone also represented the 25th Dreamliner delivered since Boeing gave the first set of keys to the Japanese carrier ANA exactly one year ago.
The delivery is the first of five Dreamliners that United is expected to take possession of this year, out of their total order of 50. The new Dreamliner was flown from Seattle to Houston’s Bush International Airport, where the fleet will be maintained, and where the Houston hub is now preparing it for its maiden commercial voyage on November 4thfrom Houston to Chicago.
The long awaited jetliner represents a breakthrough for commercial aircraft, noted specifically for its design and engineering. Not as large as jumbo jets, it will carry between 242 and 290 passengers based on configuration, and is as close to being eco-friendly as any commercial plane has ever been, producing significantly reduced levels of carbon emissions.
Boeing is the first major airliner to use mostly composite materials in aircraft construction, and advantage that is expected to pay off quickly. The lighter weight composite construction offers big benefits, beginning with fuel efficiency savings of 20% over similar aircraft. Engineering is expected to reduce maintenance costs by 30%, and overall cash operating costs are projected to be 15% less than comparable jets. Designed with a range of up to 8500 nautical miles, its efficiency and smaller size will offer carriers the ability for more flights on targeted routes.
But while the plane is sure to be appreciated for its efficiency by operators, the most visible changes will be in the traveler’s experience. The redesigned and rethought cabin will offer a healthier, more comfortable ride. Some of the features travelers are already raving about:
- 30% larger windows allowing those not seated next to a window to see out
- Conventional pull-down shades are replaced with an electronic tinting system controllable by dial.
- A smart lighting system that changes according to the time and mood of the day, powered by low heat LED
- Newly designed overhead bins allow for more storage
- Better cabin air filtering systems minimize odors and cause less eye, nose and throat irritation
- Aircraft composite construction allows the cabin to be pressurized at a lower simulated altitude for less fatigue
- Aerodynamic technology adjusts wing surfaces to counter air turbulence, bringing an 8-fold smoother ride
American companies Boeing and United are apparently very excited about their continued long standing partnership with this delivery of America’s first 787 Dreamliner, and if accolades from the owners of the other 24 existing Dreamliners are to be accepted, then the commercial airliner industry may have just hit a home run.