Boeing's 787 ‚Dreamliner' is the answer to Airbus' Mega-Jumbo A380. However, the 787 focuses on a different concept: While the A380 is designed for operations on high-yield routes like London – New York, the Boeing 787 concentrates on point-to-point networks between distant cities. Boeing's market analysts concluded that passengers are likely to prefer direct connections in future, as opposed to an increase of the hub-and-spoke system.
To be able to afford such direct flights as an airline, it needs a very efficient aircraft. For Boeing, which planned to revolutionize aviation with the sonic-speed long-haul aircraft ‘Sonic Cruiser', this was a very painful awakening. Still, it is noticeable that the 787 is quite revolutionary as well. To lower the airplane's weight, the ‘Dreamliner' is the first jet ever to be built from composite materials only. In addition, the 787 has a very aerodynamical shape. The most distinctive example, the shark-shaped tail, is however not being realized in the final design. Newly developed engines by GENX and Rolls-Royce are supposed to contribute to about 20% in fuel savings of the 787 compared to today's competitors.
According to Boeing, the cabin will be revolutionary as well. The humidity level in the cabin is comparable to sea level. Giant cabin windows guarantee for an untroubled view. In order to have a better understanding of the passengers' needs, Boeing invited the public to join the development from the first drawings and runs polls on the 787 website www.newairplane.com from time to time on the preferences and interests of the passengers.
With the 787, Boeing tries the balancing act of replacing medium-haul aircraft like the Airbus A300 and Boeing 757, but also providing an adequate replacement for the long-haul B767 with only one airplane. Thus, the 787 will be available in different versions: The 787-3 focuses on medium-haul operations, while the 787-8 will be designed for long-haul needs. A stretched version named 787-9 is in the further planning.
With an order of Japan's ANA in 2004, the 787 was officially launched. Production is scheduled to start in 2006, with the first flight following in 2007 and first deliveries in 2008.