The future of air travel revealed as the Dreamliner takes to the skies

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has successfully completed its test flight, with the company promising that passengers will enjoy unmatched levels of comfort when it enters service in late 2010.

The 787 will seat between 290-330 passengers and should be delivered almost three years ahead of the A350XWB airliner proposed by rival Airbus. Both models share similar features and have been designed to be more comfortable for passengers and efficient for operators. Both Boeing and Airbus have also been highlighting the environmental credentials of the models in response to pressure on the industry from the green lobby.

Boeing claims that the Dreamliner's in-flight atmosphere will be cleaner and more comfortable thanks to advanced filtration and the highest ever cabin pressure. Whilst current airliners are pressurized to 8000 ft (Mount Everest is just over 29,000 ft high), the air pressure inside the Dreamliner is 6000 ft, allowing 8% more oxygen to be absorbed into the blood meaning passengers experience fewer headaches and less dizziness and fatigue. Airbus is also believed to be working on this for the A350XWB. Boeing also predicts an eightfold reduction of the number of passengers experiencing motion sickness thanks to advanced technology that balances turbulence by delivering commands to the wing surfaces.

The 787 features the largest windows ever used in a commercial airliner, 27 cm by 47 cm, to allow passengers to see more of the horizon and experience more natural light during daytime flights. Artificial lighting is provided by LEDs rather than bulbs, simulating a day throughout a longer flight to ease passengers' adjustment to timezone changes. Again, this technology is expected to be integrated in the Airbus A350XWB.

Boeing is also aiming for a greener ride, predicting that the Dreamliner will be considerably quieter during takeoff and landing and 20% more fuel efficient than current jets on the market.

840 Dreamliners had been sold to 55 airlines around the world before it had even left the ground, making it the fastest selling wide-body airliner ever before entering service. With the completion of the first flight, Boeing believes that the model will be delivered to the first customer, All Nippon Airways, in Q4 2010.

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