The line was more than three years long but ANA, All Nippon Airways, received delivery of its first two spanking new 787’s. This is the plane that, quite frankly, is the Boeing Corporations biggest single gamble. The first flight took off from Narita on October 26th, landing a short time later in Hong Kong. Journalists on board, including Travel Weekly’s Ken Kiesnoski, thought the world’s airlines on the order list may well feel the wait was worthwhile.
As promised, the aircraft features newly designed staggered “lie-flat” seats in Business and fixed-shell seats in economy that do not recline – instead, they slide forward. Inaugural guests were impressed with the new windows that are 30% larger than those on the 747. The windows do not have pull-down shades but they can be dimmed a lovely shade of shimmering blue with the touch of a button. This ability to control the large windows and the sunlight streaming through is rather important. There have been studies that show that the sunlight streaming through an aircraft window can, over time, be rather dangerous. The concept is that commercial aircraft fly, technically, above the atmosphere. That’s the same atmosphere that filters out the harmful, cancer-causing rays of the sun. No atmosphere filtering and, theoretically, the rays get through. This becomes an issue on flights with long segments, such as a return from Europe, where the aircraft is bathed in sunlight for significant parts of a day.
In fact, Boeing was very much interested in ambiance and mood adjustment as design factors in this new aircraft. There are several lighting options including shades of red and violet that can be adjusted to suit the mood of passengers. There is more technical advancement than that in the new Dreamliner. The engines are unusually quiet which has to do with the fact that the electrical system used in the passenger cabins are not part of the engines. This is not a physically large aircraft. It is smaller than the 777 as well as the Airbus 340 and 389. But given the new seats, somewhat lower density, larger windows, and the light show, the 787 feels larger than it is. This is helped by the fact that the plane has the largest overhead bins in the industry.
But given all of this, what most impresses us is the fact that some thought was given to allowing passengers to enjoy better quality air. When you fly other large aircraft, you are feeling cabin pressure that is pegged at about 8,000 feet above sea level. But passengers on this aircraft will be at about 6,000 feet above sea level and that difference with better humidity and air pressure characteristics will make passengers feel as though they are having a more serene flying experience,. This is accomplished primarily by the aircraft’s revolutionary carbon composite materials. This is, believes Boeing, far superior in terms of weight and anti-rust factors than the more traditional aluminum fuselage.
So, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is, by most industry accounts, exactly what was promised. It is the most advanced, comfortable ride in the sky. So how do you get on board? United Airlines has 25 of the aircraft on order with deliveries set for June/July of next year. LOT Polish Airlines has eight of the planes