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787 First Flight
December 14, 2009 9:47 PM   Subscribe

After many many delays, Boeing's newest widebody jet, the 787 "Dreamliner", will fly for the first time today. Watch a live webcast starting at 9:40AM PT.
posted by joshwa (59 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's still room for them to delay it! They've gotten quite good at that.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:52 PM on December 14, 2009


(But I hope they don't. Good luck, Boeing.)
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:52 PM on December 14, 2009


Will my nose still be 5" from the back of the seat in front of me in 'economy' class if the passenger in front reclines? Then it's still a cattle hauler.
posted by fatbird at 9:54 PM on December 14, 2009


I guess I don't really care that much one way or the other about the 787 (other than the fact that we really don't need anymore resource hogs of this variety and I really wish someone would get to work on some modern airships), but I did want to point out how sad it is that Wikipedia calls the linked sub-article "overly detailed." God forbid an article in a digital encyclopedia that essentially has unlimited space be too detailed. However the fuck you would define that.
posted by Caduceus at 9:57 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is your head like a foot and a half wide?
posted by floam at 9:58 PM on December 14, 2009


God forbid an article in a digital encyclopedia that essentially has unlimited space be too detailed. However the fuck you would define that.

The definition may be a matter to discuss, but over-detailed is a perfectly legitimate complaint. How often do we see tl;dr around here? Information is not data; too much raw fact and it can become difficult-to-impossible to extract the useful bits you actually want to know about.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:07 PM on December 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Some videos and photos of the high-speed taxi test and nose rotation this past weekend.

Some more photos from the blog of Boeing's VP of Marketing.
posted by SpringAquifer at 10:08 PM on December 14, 2009


As someone scheduled to take a ten-hour flight in the next ten days, let me just say that I WANT.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:13 PM on December 14, 2009


I don't know. I have seldom in my life been frustrated by too much information. Too little, on the other hand...
posted by Caduceus at 10:13 PM on December 14, 2009


It was July 8, 2007 when they rolled it out on the tarmac with temporary fasteners holding it together.
posted by bhnyc at 10:15 PM on December 14, 2009


Caduceus: I don't know. I have seldom in my life been frustrated by too much information.

Getting off topic here, but there's a lot to be said for organization, readability, and on Wikipedia, ease of editing. Wikipedia's Manual of Style encourages the splitting off of sub-topics into sub-articles. Cramming tons and tons of trivial information into one section makes it harder to skim an article for an overview of the topic, and it makes it difficult for a casual reader to actually make it through to the end. The details are in the sub-article if you're really that interested. And editing long, long articles can be quite a chore. Not to mention, there have been technical issues in the past with regard to the display of long articles, especially since Wikipedia articles can be downloaded onto so many different formats.

posted by SpringAquifer at 10:24 PM on December 14, 2009


Fatbird, seat placement is specified by the customer. Boeing puts them where ever the airline says to.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:43 PM on December 14, 2009


It might be scrubbed Tuesday, depending on weather and winds.

They want to take off away from population centers, at least at first, so if the wind is from the wrong direction, they will wait another day.

I have to drive up to Paine Field for a meeting, so I'm hoping I can find a parking place ...
posted by Araucaria at 11:00 PM on December 14, 2009


we really don't need anymore resource hogs of this variety posted by Caduceus

According to Boeing, the 787 uses 20 percent less fuel than any plane comparable in size.

If you are not impressed by this then you really don't understand.
posted by eye of newt at 11:01 PM on December 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I found a quote explaining it in better terms:
Jeff Hawk, who heads the 787's environmental efforts, said Friday the Dreamliner consumes about one gallon of fuel per seat per 100 miles of travel.
posted by eye of newt at 11:03 PM on December 14, 2009


Fatbird, seat placement is specified by the customer. Boeing puts them where ever the airline says to.

I don't blame Boeing; I understand that economic pressures on airlines mandate squeezing flyers in as tightly as they'll allow to maximize ticket revenue. I just find it difficult to look forward to a new airliner when I know that Northwest et al. will do their best to destroy the experience for me.
posted by fatbird at 11:09 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great!

Now Asian airlines will be able to fit even more seats too close together.

I'm 6' 2"; all tall people have a right to bitch about this.
posted by bwg at 12:47 AM on December 15, 2009


Jeff Hawk, who heads the 787's environmental efforts, said Friday the Dreamliner consumes about one gallon of fuel per seat per 100 miles of travel.

Compared to 1.25 gallons in other planes.
posted by delmoi at 12:48 AM on December 15, 2009


Now Asian airlines will be able to fit even more seats too close together.

787 seats 296, the 747 seats 524, and the A380 seats 853
posted by delmoi at 12:53 AM on December 15, 2009


Is it more than a coincidence that this came out less than a week after the Airbus A400M?
posted by Wanderlust88 at 1:06 AM on December 15, 2009


I'm sure it's been scheduled for quite a while.
posted by delmoi at 1:17 AM on December 15, 2009


787 seats 296, the 747 seats 524, and the A380 seats 853

Well if Cathay Pacific adds a few to their fleet it could be interesting; although they've already switched to "banana seats" that don't recline, the rows are still a little too close together for my tastes: if I scootch down like everyone else my knees get pressed into the seat back.

Of course I could fly business class and get the bed-like seat, but at a cost that hurts. Maybe the 787 will afford more space and I'll be able to fly in comfort for a change.

Cathay isn't anywhere near as bad as other carriers; a recent long-distance flight on Korean will be my last unless they upgrade their fleet.
posted by bwg at 1:32 AM on December 15, 2009


The wing of the 787 is certainly interesting, the curve makes it appear less rigid than I like my heavier-than-air craft even though I have seen the Boeing 777 wing load test.
I am a bit troubled though when a plane is 2 years late and they state under the heading of "Expedited Design"
Even with all its meticulous and dynamic advancements, the final assembly of the 787 Dreamliner is targeted for just three days. That's because Boeing made a conscious decision to integrate the design process with each of its global partners. Everyone involved collaborated every step of the way, limiting integration hold-ups and making the 787 more readily available than other aircraft.
Though I am happy that Boeing "...made a conscious decision to integrate the design process with each of its global partners." I am a bit concerned when they see fit to announce, with pride, that they are not complete morons. Further if they consider 2 years late an example of "limiting integration hold-ups" I would like to suggest that maybe timetables aren't what they seem to do best and maybe the first few times for final assembly they should go ahead and let the process take as long as it takes. I'm happy to wait a few extra days. I grew up in Boeingland and am saddened and a bit worried to see management having so much trouble in recent years. (In 1970 Boeing delivered ninety-two 747's in its first year of commercial use.)
Also there is an error here where it should say the "chart above" instead of the "chart below". Emailed the link to a friend who works at Boeing to see if I win a prize. (newairplane.com is registered to Boeing.)
posted by vapidave at 3:31 AM on December 15, 2009


Further if they consider 2 years late an example of "limiting integration hold-ups" I would like to suggest that maybe timetables aren't what they seem to do best and maybe the first few times for final assembly they should go ahead and let the process take as long as it takes.

I read this to mean production integration, not what is essentially first-article prototyping and engineering design model integration. These are very different time-tables. Also, their 3-day estimate may be their final integration after all their subcontractors have shipped them the pre-assembled subcomponents.

And yay for Boeing ditching the pacific NW and coming down to the Dirty SouthTM
posted by This Guy at 5:11 AM on December 15, 2009


I am a bit troubled though when a plane is 2 years late and they state under the heading of "Expedited Design"

Updating the copy on their website is probably pretty low on their to-do list.
posted by smackfu at 5:17 AM on December 15, 2009


This is a neat plane. Program (mis)management aside, it's going to be exciting to see this take flight.
posted by wrok at 5:40 AM on December 15, 2009


A cabin pressurized to 6000 feet instead of the usual 8000 that is kept more humid because there's less corrosion risk? Sign me up! One of the niceties of the Concorde besides the fast flight times was pressurization to 6000'.

I took a Delta 767 instead of my usual Southwest 737 last year & even though the seats were about the same size in coach (I'm 6'3"), the newer plane was faster, quieter and somehow better.

From Wikipedia:
737 544 max, 485-511 cruise
747 594-614 max, 555-570 cruise
757 530 cruise
767 530 cruise, 568 max cruise
777 560 cruise, 590 max cruise
787 561 cruise, 587 max cruise
a380 587 max cruise, 634 max
posted by morganw at 7:05 AM on December 15, 2009


What's the point of high speed taxi and rotation tests, surely they know that the wheels are bolted on etc. Seems kinda redundant, no? And I don't see the first flight being particularly dangerous. Why make such a big deal? I know nothing about aeronautical engineering, but I'd go aboard with my kids for the first flight were they to allow passengers. It's not like this is the first plane made, or inconceivable amounts of computer processing haven't modelled every single aspect of it's existence. Hell, I bet they have data on what happens when 34C puts down their tray table and how it impacts flight. Standing behind all that data are engineers that have designed other planes, have a pretty good idea what works.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:10 AM on December 15, 2009


I'm shocked, shocked, that the live webcast seems not to be working.

I swear, anything that modern Boeing touches sucks. I think I will actively avoid their Dreamliners for a number of years.
posted by Malor at 8:12 AM on December 15, 2009


Keith,

The test apparatus undoubtedly has sensors all over the braking system... They're not validating that the wheels will not fall off, but measuring things like hydraulic pressure, the amount of pad wear, temperatures at numerous locations, etc.

Taxing at higher speeds also allows them to test power drain in a dual-engine configuration where the new, novel electrical generation system (vs bleed air on previous engines) is used while both engines are at a higher throttle level than idle. Other stuff like the APU can obviously be tested with the aircraft sitting still.
posted by thewalrus at 8:33 AM on December 15, 2009


I'm shocked, shocked, that the live webcast seems not to be working.

It doesn't start for another hour (9:40AM PT/12:40PM PT)
posted by joshwa at 8:37 AM on December 15, 2009


What, BoingBoing has their own airline? Damn that Cory Doctorow!
posted by stevil at 8:46 AM on December 15, 2009


Do a barrel roll!
posted by Aquaman at 8:59 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


They're late.
posted by medium format at 9:45 AM on December 15, 2009


Here's the Flightaware page for the flight. Once it goes you'll be able to follow the track there. You can also watch the weather at the departure; cloud cover at the moment is not ideal.
posted by Nelson at 9:46 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Image Properties

Location: http://787firstflight.newairplane.com/header_rt.jpg
Image Dimensions: 361px × 60px
Size of File: 10.97 KB (11233 bytes)
Alternate Text: Wing Break
posted by medium format at 10:02 AM on December 15, 2009


I'm shocked, shocked, that the live webcast seems not to be working.

I stand corrected. The Boeing site in OP is hammered and intermittently resetting connections or throwing IIS 404 errors.

Bummer.
posted by joshwa at 10:06 AM on December 15, 2009


CNN's live feed is working. And the plane is still on the ground, though taxiing now.
posted by dontoine at 10:11 AM on December 15, 2009


Looks like there is a live feed here (after an irritating ad).
posted by cosmac at 10:12 AM on December 15, 2009


also here
posted by joshwa at 10:17 AM on December 15, 2009


Feed was working fine for me - and the plane's in the air!
posted by deadmessenger at 10:31 AM on December 15, 2009


What's the point of high speed taxi and rotation tests

Because you just built a (right now) one-of-a-kind prototype that costs several hundreds of millions of dollars and has human lives on it?

You want to know two very important things before you fly the thing - can you get it to go fast enough to take off and CAN YOU STOP IT. That's what the taxi and rotation tests are for. Yes, you can do some very sophisticated modeling on the computer, but in the end you need real data from a real airplane. You want to know these things before you send the plane in the air and all of a sudden you're unsure if your runway is long enough to land on.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:53 AM on December 15, 2009


I watched it take off live. Amazingly quiet, except for the cheering.

You will want to fly in this airplane: bigger windows, less cabin noise, and more seat space, if the airlines don't end up cramming people in again.
posted by Araucaria at 11:07 AM on December 15, 2009


Can I just say how surreal it was to walk into Subway not knowing about any of this and see "Breaking News" and then see two planes flying on the store Hi-Def TV?
posted by Kimberly at 11:31 AM on December 15, 2009


Shockingly, MeFi doesn't have Airbus vs. Boeing flamewars. Bravo.
posted by smackfu at 11:57 AM on December 15, 2009


They just landed at Boeing field.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:35 PM on December 15, 2009


I was there too, and while exciting, the actual takeoff felt like a normal, non-eventful event. Got some speed, and up it went, no problems. I guess that's how it should be!

Really would've preferred the barrel roll though.
posted by Diddly at 2:30 PM on December 15, 2009


I only saw about a minute or two, but the landing gear never went up. Does anyone know if they ever raised it? I watched well past the point where they normally raise the gear, and... nothing. Maybe not all the parts are working yet...
posted by Simon Barclay at 4:06 PM on December 15, 2009


Great! Now Asian airlines will be able to fit even more seats too close together.

FWIW, All Nippon Airlines is increasing economy class seat pitch on its NRT-JFK route starting in February, albeit on a 777-300ER aircraft and not a 787.
posted by armage at 5:42 PM on December 15, 2009


What, BoingBoing has their own airline? Damn that Cory Doctorow!

Yes! Their aircraft are powered by smugness, douchewater, and the kinetic energy of repeated and rapid dropping of jaws.
posted by Ratio at 7:27 PM on December 15, 2009


Shockingly, MeFi doesn't have Airbus vs. Boeing flamewars. Bravo.

LMFTFY:

Shockingly, MeFi doesn't have Airbus vs. Boeing flamewars. Bravo.
posted by joshwa at 8:09 PM on December 15, 2009


I only saw about a minute or two, but the landing gear never went up. Does anyone know if they ever raised it? I watched well past the point where they normally raise the gear, and... nothing. Maybe not all the parts are working yet...

Flight testing regimens are extremely methodical. The goal is, as much as practical, test one new element per test interval. Thus the high speed taxi pass yesterday (proving no unexpected shimmy unusual control forces, etc. Then the first flight is typically short, to low altitude and no gear retraction. There will be plenty of opportunities to cycle the gear mechanism, today was just about proving a basic takeoff and landing.
posted by meinvt at 9:22 PM on December 15, 2009


As someone scheduled to take a ten-hour flight in the next ten days, let me just say that I WANT.

THE WHOLE PLANE TO MYSELF, yes. I am 100% with you on that. It's not that I dislike my fellow passengers, but I sit in this weird folded way and my knees just start KILLING ME after hour 2 in a plane, whether or not anyone leans back. I would very much like to just lie down and take a nap.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:56 AM on December 16, 2009


Simon Barclay: I only saw about a minute or two, but the landing gear never went up. Does anyone know if they ever raised it? I watched well past the point where they normally raise the gear, and... nothing. Maybe not all the parts are working yet...

See this post. They actually did cycle it once.
posted by SpringAquifer at 3:52 PM on December 16, 2009


First flights are fun.

The first flight of the 707 (Part 2: first flight at 3:30)
The first flight of the 727
The first flight of the 747 (Part 2)
+ first flight of the 747-400
The first flight of the 757
The first flight of the 777 (nb. awesome fake-Top Gun music)
The first flight of the 787
posted by bicyclefish at 5:24 PM on December 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


the boeing dreamliner... Where wings take dream!
posted by infinite intimation at 7:49 PM on December 16, 2009


amazing how thin those wings are, they seem to almost visibly Bend, that's some serious engineering.
Amazing lil airplane y'got there boeing!
posted by infinite intimation at 7:55 PM on December 16, 2009


amazing how thin those wings are, they seem to almost visibly Bend, that's some serious engineering.

That'd be wing flex.

They're designed to do that. (up to 26 feet deviation at 150% max load!)

This airliners.net thread goes into (much) more detail.
posted by joshwa at 7:31 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, you can see the 787's wings flex quite dramatically in this video.
posted by joshwa at 7:33 AM on December 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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