Monday, December 21, 2009

Can the Boeing 787 Dreamliner Make Civil Aviation

Given that the recent 2009 Dubai Air Show had proved that the Eurofighter Typhoon as the fastest selling military aviation gear around, can the Boeing 787 Dreamliner make civil aviation profitable again?

By: Ringo Bones

Boeing builds bombers, a slogan that straddled both World War II and the Cold War. But in our post- 9 / 11 world, it seems like huge strategic bomber fleets are fast becoming the technological dinosaurs of the aviation world, despite of their technological sophistication. And while the recent 2009 Dubai Air Show had surprised everyone with the rather brisk sales of the Eurofighter Typhoon – probably sold with the enhanced ground attack capability upgrade as a value-for-money weapons system to neutralize “newfangled” 21st Century threats like the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Although one needs not to fly faster than 400 mph when “neutralizing” threats like Taliban and Al Qaeda. Which makes the Eurofighter Typhoon in danger of being superseded by an OV-10A Bronco type counter-insurgency plane if ever an aviation manufacturing firm successfully manages to retrofit a 1.8 metric ton GAU-8 AVENGER into one. Given that our world has drastically changed since the September 11, 2009 terror attacks on the World Trade Center Towers, is there a need for a paradigm shift in the aviation industry in order to make civil aviation profitable again?

Enter the much-awaited Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which finally made its maiden flight in December 14, 2009 after two years of delays due to machinists’ strikes over wage disputes. Touted to be 20% more fuel-efficient with 15% less maintenance costs due to the extensive use of advanced aerospace grade composites in the fuselage and wings. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is indeed civil aviation’s latest technological tour de force that has a much longer range while burning the same amount of fuel than it’s similarly-sized aluminum alloy-based predecessors. Thus keeping ticket prices lower in comparison to inflation trends.

According to the top brass at Boeing’s main headquarters in Seattle, Washington, the 787 Dreamliner was primarily designed to service the intermediate range routes that are deemed to uneconomic for the much larger Airbus A380 Super Jumbo. With its British made Rolls Royce jet engines, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is probably the last best hope for Boeing to get out of the company’s economic slump brought about by last year’s global recession. Though the maiden flight of the 787 Dreamliner didn’t make as much fanfare as the launch of the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet back in 1969, which was then the largest plane in the world. Sporting four Pratt & Whitney turbofan jet engines with a large bypass ratio deemed state of the art 40 years ago, the 747 Jumbo Jet did revolutionized civil air travel to its familiar high-capacity subsonic shape of today. Boeing’s top executives still hopes that the 787 Dreamliner is the civil aviation product that could make the firm profitable again.

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