Years late, Boeing's dream is finally realised

The Dreamliner first rolled out of the hangar in 2007. So why is it only now ready to fly? Simon Calder reports

The most unusual building in the vast Boeing complex at Everett, north of Seattle, resembles a chic interior-design studio.

Click HERE to download graphic: Boeing's Big Baby Flies The Nest (272.56kB)

The elegant curves of the Dreamliner Gallery embrace the ultimate pick-and-mix showroom. Customers for the world's most advanced airliner choose fixtures and fittings from economy-class seats and business-class bidets to coffee makers and the galley sink. Executives from the dozens of airlines with orders for the Boeing 787 have been flown here to make their selection. But so far none has seen their shiny new toys take to the skies.

Last night, Boeing officials were hoping that a ceremony at Everett marking Federal Aviation Administration approval of the new "Dreamliner" will signal a change in fortunes.

The first of 55 Boeing 787s for the launch customer, ANA of Japan, is due to land in Tokyo a month today. But Britain's airlines must wait for several years for theirs to arrive.

"Certification is a milestone that validates what we have promised the world," said Jim Albaugh, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The aircraft represents the most radical innovation in aviation since the Boeing 747 entered service 41 years ago. So high is the 787's specification that, even with a score of cancellations this year, it has the biggest pre-launch order book of any wide-bodied jet. Airlines are hungry for the 20 per cent fuel saving compared with other "big twins", while environmentalists long for the new plane to replace old, thirsty and dirty aircraft.

"The Dreamliner promises to be much cheaper to fly than the aircraft it will replace," said Douglas McNeil, analyst with Charles Stanley Securities. "With $100 oil seemingly here to stay, that can't come quickly enough for the airline industry."

The biggest beneficiaries, though, should be the 250 or so passengers aboard each plane. For the first time, passenger comfort has been at the heart of the design. The windows are much larger than on current aircraft, and are fitted with "smart glass" that is designed to reduce glare and obviate the need for individual shutters.

Unlike present aircraft, which are pressurised to an altitude of 8,000 feet, the 787 is calibrated to 6,000 feet. This margin greatly reduces the debilitating effects of a long flight. Even though the first scheduled link is a Japanese domestic hop of just 340 miles, the 787's range of 8,800 miles will enable non-stop connections from London to previously hard-to-reach destinations such as Bali, Honolulu and the Chilean capital, Santiago. Shorter routes previously abandoned as uneconomic could re-appear: Anchorage, New Orleans, Durban in South Africa, the Peruvian capital Lima and Manila in the Philippines are obvious candidates.

When the British traveller might be able to step aboard such flights remains as hazy as a foggy day at Heathrow. New aircraft traditionally experience delivery delays, but none has experienced a succession of setbacks on the scale of the 787. The plane that was rolled out of the hangar at Everett with much ceremony on 8 July 2007 (7-8-7 according to the US style for dates) was far from ready for take-off. Some failings have been mechanical, such as gaps in the horizontal stabilizers and a surge in a Rolls-Royce engine on a test flight. Information technology has also posed problems, with delays in completing flight software and even fears that passengers using the on-board internet could hack into the flight systems. And even though the 787 uses far fewer fasteners – rivets and bolts – than current aircraft, shortages of these essential components has caused extra delays.

First Choice Airways ordered six of the jets for delivery in 2009. The airline has since been absorbed into Thomson, which declined to say when it might fly the plane. Virgin Atlantic had planned to be flying the 787 this summer, but is now anticipating the summer of 2014. British Airways, which chose its reservations phone number because it ends "787", has two dozen on order – but yesterday all it would say was: "We are in negotiations with Boeing over the delivery schedule."

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Manager - Global Leisure Business

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...

    Investigo: Senior Finance Analyst - Global Leisure Business

    £45000 - £52000 per annum + bonus+bens : Investigo: My client, a global leader...

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luton – £25k

    25,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luto...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?