This week, American and European aviation agencies gave their approval for Boeing’s newest version of the Dreamliner, the 787-9, to enter commercial service. This latest version is a bigger update to Boeing’s family of Dreamliner aircraft.
Last fall, CNN reported on the features of the upgraded airliners after the opening of Boeing’s Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. A bigger version of its predecessor, the 787-8, the new planes (known as “dash nines”) are able to hold 40 more passengers, are 20-feet longer and also have a greater range of 8,000-8,500 nautical miles.
These “stretch jets” are known for offering more space and luxury than traditional airliners. The Dreamliners feature Skycouch rows, a unique design that turns a row of three economy seats into a three-seater “couch.” They also have a slimmer seat back due to more compact inflight entertainment monitors, allowing more personal space for the passenger.
The original 787-8 entered service in 2011, and another variant, the still larger 787-10, is due out in 2018.
The 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s most advanced airplane. The plane’s body is 50 percent composites and 20 percent aluminum. This is almost a full reversal of the makeup of the 777, which is 12 percent composites and 50 percent aluminum. The lower weight of the composites is a main contributor to the 787’s fuel efficiency. Boeing claims the airplane is 20% more fuel efficient than similarly sized airplanes, and emits 20 percent less pollutants.
According to The Wall Street Journal, The Dreamliner was grounded for more than three months last year, after the company experienced two incidents with the jet’s lithium ion batteries. The aircraft was cleared to return to service after Boeing redesigned the battery and developed a containment-and-venting system to mitigate the risk of a fire. The 787-9 incorporates all of those changes and other improvements taken from the airline’s operations with the smaller Dreamliner.
Beoing has seen a series of problems with the previous Dreamliner model, which they hope to eliminate with this newly enhanced edition.
Fox Business reports the latest version is still undergoing tweaks, even though the regulators have certified it as safe. They quote a statement released by Boeing on Monday,
“Certification of the 787-9 is confirmation that the airplane meets the highest levels of safety and performance, as demonstrated through a rigorous test program, including extensive laboratory validations, flight-test activities and thorough analysis and evaluation.”
Boeing will deliver its first commercial 787-9 to Air New Zealand later this month. The jet is scheduled to make its commercial debut on October 15, flying between Auckland and Perth, Australia, and later to Shanghai and Tokyo.