Boeing's work to make the 787 Dreamliner the world's first eco-friendly airliner have inspired engineers and flight designers across the globe to design more fuel efficient airplanes.

The World's First Eco-Friendly Airliner

James Russo

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Boeing’s work to make the 787 Dreamliner the world’s first eco-friendly airliner have inspired engineers and flight designers across the globe to design more fuel efficient airplanes.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner:
The World’s First Eco-Friendly Airliner
by James Russo

It was with great anticipation that Boeing unveiled a new mid-sized, wide- body twin engine jet airliner this part July and announced that the plane would begin commercial service in May of 2008. Supposedly, the 787 began development at Boeing in the 1990’s as a replacement for the now aging 767 fleet when sales of the original jumbo jet slowed due to competing Airbus A300-200. The ink was just barely try on early designs of the 787 when All Nippon Airways (ANA) became the first customer for the 787 by announcing an order of 50 aircraft.

Early concept images of the 787 included rakish cockpit windows, a dropped nose and a distinctive “shark fin” vertical stabilizer. The final design of the 787 would change and more closely resemble previous Boeing aircraft.

There was much debate as to what the “E” stood for when the plan began the initial design phase as the “7E7”. Some said the “E” stood for efficiency while others said the “E” stood for environmentally friendly. In the end, Boeing dispelled the debates by stating that the “E” stood simply for eight and renamed the airliner the 787 Dreamliner.

Despite Boeing’s insistence that the “E” in 7E7 stood for “eight”, there were numerous aspects of this new aircraft that support the idea that the airliner was for more eco-friendly than anything Boeing had produced since the company began to build planes. Intense pressure from Congress, international organizations, special interest groups, and committees set up to design global warming concerns forced Boeing’s engineers to completely rethink their designs of airliners and the engines used to power them. Boeing claims that the 787 will be at least 20% more fuel-efficient than current competing aircraft. One third of the efficiency gain 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 787 features lighter weight construction. Its materials by weight are : 50% composite, 20% aluminum, 15% titanium, 10% steel and 5% other. Composite materials are significantly lighter and stronger than traditional aircraft materials making the 787 a very light aircraft for its capabilities. It is hoped that widescale use of the 787 will dramatically cut airliner overhead expenditures on jet fuel. Additionally, this lower usage of jet fuel makes the 787 Dreamliner the first airliner designed with the Earth’s ecology in mind. Less fuel consumption means less toxic emissions in to the Earth’s atmosphere.

In designing the 787, Boeing did not only rethink engineering of the exterior of the plane and the structure, but Being rethought the inside of the plane as well. The cabin windows on the 787 are larger than others currently on in service civil air transport with higher eye level, so passengers can see the horizon and the interior cabin in fitted with Electrochronism-based “auto-dimming’ to reduce cabin glare and maintain transparency. These are to be supplied by light emitting diodes instead of fluorescent tubes.

Just to show that Boeing’s people have though of everything, Boeing’s technicians have not only created a plane that will maintain the quality of the air outside of the plane, but inside as well. The internal pressure will be increased to the equivalent of 6000 feet altitude instead of the 8000 feet on conventional aircraft. According to Boeing, this will significant improve passenger comfort. An improved air conditioning system will provide better air quality free of ozone, bacteria, viruses, odors, and gaseous contaminants.

Boeing’s tremendous work to make the 787 Dreamliner the world’s first eco-friendly airliner have inspired engineers and flight designers across the globe to design more fuel efficient airplanes. Another project in development at Boeing is the Sonic Cruiser. The Sonic Cruiser looks somewhat like a 787, but the airliner would fly in low Earth orbit allowing the plane to attain supersonic capabilities utilizing a fraction of the fuel that would be needed to do the same in the Earth’s atmosphere.

 

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