The Boeing factory in Everett—the one that’s so big that it developed its own weather system a few years ago—just released its first 787 Dreamliner plane. The brand-new jet went to All Nippon Airlines (ANA) of Japan on September 26, marking a milestone for the company.
Boeing confirms that United Airlines will be the first American carrier to receive a Dreamliner, and United’s first 787 (of 50!) entered the assembly phase on August 17. That plane should be done sometime in early 2012 (though ANA may bring one of their jets to SeaTac even sooner).
The Dreamliner has meant big changes at the Everett factory, since Boeing constructs parts of the ships in different factories around the world, then ships the parts to Washington. But what will travelers get out of the 787 when it finally hauls American flyers? Here are the highlights:
1. It’s quieter. Boeing is now using serrated chevrons on the engine exhaust ducts to lower noise inside and outside the cabin.
2. It’s greener. The 787 Dreamliner is the most fuel-efficient plane ever (using 20 percent less fuel than the average plane) and it’s made of lighter, composite materials—so your plane is helping save the environment.
3. The air feels better. Flying usually means breathing in something gross and dry, right? In the new planes, gaseous filtration, a purification method, will clean the air in the cabin. And because of the composite material used to build the plane, the cabin pressure will feel like you’re only at 1,830 meters (600 meters less than most planes, and therefore more "normal"), even when the plane is eight miles above the ground.
4. More leg room, hip room, and bag room. These Dreamliners have the largest overhead bins of any plane used by commercial airlines these days. They also have wider seats, wider aisles (55 cm, which is 6 cm wider than the average twin aisle airplane), and bigger windows.
5. Smoother sailing. Engineers incorporated technology that lessens the impact of moderate turbulence.
6. It’s pretty. Boeing developed a simulated cabin sky that makes passengers feel like they’re outdoors under daylight or a starry night, depending on the time of day. Crew members dim or brighten a series of energy-efficient lights to create the effect.
7. You can go the distance. The 787 will span routes of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles. So frequent flyers could do a 8,032-mile trip from Seattle to Perth, Australia without a layover.