For Boeing ‘Green’ May Not be a Dream
by Steven Richardson
The headlines are everywhere. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been plagued by problems from the very beginning of its existence, and it seems that the problems are going to continue.
Although this airplane came about in order to provide new solutions for airlines and their passengers, the Dreamliner errors and mistakes have proven that this whole project could see a very tragic event if these things are not fixed…fast.
It was all about energy efficiency. In 2004, Boeing launched the 787 Dreamliner and touted it as an all-new, super-efficient airplane. An international team of experts – the upper crust of the aerospace industry - built the airplane. And with the creation came the need to offer the world unparalleled performance.
The facts are this: The 787-8 Dreamliner can carry 210-250 passengers on routes of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles; the longer 787-9 Dreamliner, can carry 250-290 passengers on routes of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles.
Boeing’s mission was to provide airlines with unmatched fuel efficiency. This would result in exceptional environmental performance. No other company has come even close. The 787 actually uses 20 percent less fuel than other similarly-sized airplanes. It also travels at a similar speed as the fastest twin-aisle airplanes in the skies. And when they were working on fuel-efficiency, the company made sure to not forget about the quality of the interior for passengers. The Dreamliner offers an environment of complete comfort and convenience.
The materials used on more than half of the airplane are composite materials, including the fuselage and wing. Simple, much more functional and more efficient – the Dreamliner offers onboard health-monitoring systems to allow the airplane to self-monitor and actually report systems maintenance issues to ground-based computer systems.
The fuel efficiency is definitely real. It was from a variety of advances in engine technology that brought about a way for Boeing to improve fuel efficiency overall. The 787 features new engines from General Electric and Rolls-Royce that represent nearly a two-generation jump in technology. And the efficiency gains are enormous. (i.e.; Manufacturing the 787 fuselage as one-piece sections eliminated 1,500 aluminum sheets and 40,000 – 50,000 fasteners per section.)
The 787 program received a record order from All-Nippon Airways (ANA); and fifty-eight customers from six continents have placed orders for more than 850 airplanes since. (Value: Approximately $185 billion). Because of these orders, the 787 Dreamliner is the most successful twin-aisle launch of a new commercial airplane in Boeing’s history. The 787-9 Dreamliner is scheduled for its first flight and first delivery in 2013 and early 2014.
Efficiency, economy, helping the environment, etc. – all of these have been created by Boeing. But the problems and the risks seem to have now outweighed the actual saving of the environment.
One flight on a normal airplane can actually unload tons of carbon and other pollution into the air. Boeing, with its idea, was able to have a huge reduction in carbon emissions. When it comes to sustainability, air travel will never be the best option. But the Dreamliner did revolutionize the industry and proved that airline manufacturers could, if they wanted to, make the friendly skies a whole lot friendlier.
Downside…July, 2012: a fan shaft on an engine fails during runway tests;
December, 2012: A U.A. 787 makes an emergency landing in New Orleans after electrical problems.
Same month: A Qatar Airways 787 was grounded after electrical power distribution problems. Same month: United Airlines finds an electrical problem in a second aircraft
2013 has not gone much better for Boeing. In fact, it‘s gotten worse. From a fire that began in a lithium ion battery pack of a Japan Airlines 787 in Boston in January; to a takeoff being aborted in January after 150 liters of fuel spilled from a Japan Airlines Dreamliner in Boston – there are major health problems to worry about. Pollutants, natural gas, energy efficiency – all are absolutely important. Death by plane crash – more important.
Going green is necessary in order to reduce our carbon footprint – this is a fact. But safety must come hand-in-hand. After all, saving the environment won’t mean much if we’re not actually here to enjoy it.
Source: Baret News Wire