With a rash of fires and poor publicity Boeing’s new airplane, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has gotten off to a turbulent start.
Yet despite its troubles, the new airplane has a promising future.
With outstanding fuel capacity, improved passenger experience and a broad range of cutting-edge innovations, the mid-size wide-body airliner is an early hit with the airlines.
Popular Despite Problems
Before the design was officially unveiled in 2007, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner already had orders. Several anxious airlines were eager to take advantage of the fuel economy and potential profitability offered by the design. Despite its troubles and fires, Boeing has approximately 864 orders for the 787 to fill.
Like many airborne innovations, Boeing’s new airplane has had what seems to be more than its share of mechanical troubles. From January to April 2013, the plane was grounded by US regulators due to safety concerns. Fires caused most of the airplane’s air safety-related woes.
For the most part, the problems and fires have occurred in 2013. Leading a short string of incidents was the time when a Japan Airlines’ 787 caught fire while sitting on the runway at Logan International. Other incidents of fuel leaks at Boston and in Tokyo complicated matters further for the plane.
Just a couple weeks later, one of All Nippon Airways’ 787s made an emergency landing in Japan after the plane’s systems detected a battery problem. After the incident at Logan International, US regulators grounded all Boeing 787’s. Japan followed suit after the emergency landing at Takamatsu airport.
Fortunately, these incidents were largely isolated, considering that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner had already logged over 50,000 flight hours, with no air safety compromising incidents. The problem was within the cutting-edge battery design.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner utilizes high-tech lithium-ion batteries, which power the airplane on the ground and provide backup power in-flight. Boeing chose to use the lithium ion batteries because they can be custom fit to the plane’s design, weigh 30% less than traditional NiCd batteries and they recharge quickly.
Just when Boeing thought they were in the clear, another incident happened in July 2013, when Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner caught fire while parked at Heathrow Airport. Investigators are still working on the cause, but investigators do not think it was a battery mishap. The incident has raised further concern, but has not slowed orders for Boeing’s new airplane. Fortunately, nobody has been hurt as a direct result of fire or malfunction.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s Inevitable Success
With airlines under constant pressure to streamline, increase profits and offer more service, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is still on track to be a popular airplane. Boeing’s new airplane is all about increasing airline profitability. For starters, the airplane consumes 20% less fuel than similarly classed airplanes. This is partially due to a one-piece barrel comprised of carbon fiber composite that eliminates heavy skin splices and the associated maintenance.
Overall, Boeing touts the 787 Dreamliner as having 30% lower maintenance costs as well as other perks like quieter engines so that airlines pay less noise fees. Increased fuel economy also means lower emissions fees. In addition, the cargo bay is larger and allows airlines to carry more cargo while still enjoying exceptional fuel economy.
On the passenger side, the cabins are easy to reconfigure, update and modify. The cabin has very large windows so that all passengers can enjoy the view from the air. Attractive color changing LED lighting helps travelers acclimate to new time zones, as well as satisfy their desire for aesthetics. The cabin has also been designed to shake less and is pressurized to a point that is similar to 6000 feet, rather than 8000 feet like most airplanes. Together with managed humidity and cutting-edge air quality systems, the cabin is more comfortable for passengers on long flights than competing airplanes.
Since the Boeing 787 Dreamliner offers desirable fuel efficiency, pleasing passenger amenities and potential to increase profits, Boeing will continue to receive new orders in spite of problems. The plane is irresistible to Airlines because it allows them to open new routes, carry more cargo, and satisfy more passengers-all of which translates to higher profits in the long run.
Despite its growing pains, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner led the company to a particularly profitable quarter; further evidence that their safety concerns are minimal and airlines are eager to take advantage of the innovative new craft.