The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, 2005

The Boeing Company

Location: Chicago, Illinois
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Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is reinventing air travel. The only major new American passenger airplane to be built in ten years, its composite structure and wing components, interior cabin and flight deck, and advanced computing systems are new milestones for industrial design and manufacture. The Dreamliner is a mid-size, wide-body jet whose design radically departs from traditional commercially produced vehicles. A super-efficient airplane— the 787 uses twenty percent less fuel than similarly sized aircraft—it dramatically lowers operating and maintenance costs and sets unprecedented standards for environmental protection.

A key element of the Dreamliner’s design is its incorporation of new technologies in airplane construction and composition. The bulk of the airplane’s wings and fuselage is made of a single piece of carbon-plastic-fiber composite, rather than aluminum plates, which results in greater resistance to fatigue, less corrosion, and significant weight reduction. The 787’s engines, being developed by General Electric and Rolls-Royce, contribute as much as eight percent of the increased efficiency, representing a nearly two-generation jump in technology. The engines are also significantly quieter, emphasizing the airplane’s environmentally friendly features.

For passengers, this new “plastic” material and single-piece construction will result in a wider interior, aisles, and seats and far larger windows. Other innovative features of the interior include larger overhead storage bins; room-like cabins rather than the traditional single long tube; a ceiling lit by light-emitting diodes which flight attendants control to mimic daylight or evening skies; electronically dimmable windows; increased air filtration and humidity; more comfortable cabin pressure; and total connectivity, including in-flight Internet access.