Dreamliner - Boeing's B787 Has Changed The Aviation Landscape
Business Traveller Africa|December 2017

There’s something unique about a brand-new aircraft. It’s not just the fresh-out-of-the box smell, or the sight of an interior as the designer intended it, rather than following the wear and tear of hundreds of passengers. It’s not even the specially selected crew accompanying you on the inaugural flight, or the senior pilot chosen to fly it home. It’s the difference of approach, says Tom Otley of Business Traveller UK.

Tom Otley

Geographically, this is because you are flying directly from the factory, whether it ’s Boeing at Everett, Washington, or North Charleston, South Carolina, or Airbus at Toulouse or Hamburg. Mentally, it ’s because when you board an aircraft already in service, your excitement will be reserved for the destination; the aeroplane is just a means of conveying. Not so with a delivery. The whole day, week or, in the case of those who’ve planned this event, months and years have been spent looking forward to this moment, and when the aircraft is new generation – a B787 Dreamliner, for instance – the excitement goes up a level.

In part, this is because you have been prepped to notice the difference. Both Boeing’s Dreamliner, and Airbus’s answer to it, the A350 XWB (Extra Wide Body), of which more later, have been deliberately positioned as New Generation. The capitals suggest that they have formed a category all of their own, that they are a step change and represent a technological leap forward. They are made in new ways from new materials and promise a new experience for those who fly them or are flown in them. Following years of waiting and, let’s face it, years of delays, these developments have been much anticipated and, now, here they are.

Boeing’s first B787 was delivered to All Nippon Airways in 2011 and, since then, more than 600 have followed. Boeing is increasing production in its two B787 factories in the US to 14 per month. Millions of passengers have already flown on them and a fair proportion may have asked themselves whether they noticed the ‘passenger enhancements’ – the fresher air, the larger windows, the quieter cabin, the mood lighting, or the slightly increased cabin pressure that supposedly lessens the ill effects of long-haul travel and even jet lag. It ’s possible for flyers to debate which aircraft they prefer – the A350, B787, or the double-decker A380. But for the majority of airlines and passengers, the A350 and the B787 have transformed long-haul flying. And as new variants arrive, new routes have opened.

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