December 15, 2009
Boeings New Dreamliner Ready For Maiden Voyage
Despite two years of complications, Boeing's newest aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, will take its maiden flight on Tuesday.
"We think it's a game changer because it provides so much value to the customer," Jim Albaugh, Boeing executive vice president and CEO, said to CNN. "We think this is going to be a very efficient airplane. It's going to change the way people travel."
The Dreamliner is the first leading airliner to be constructed from mainly composite materials. Boeing has added that the aircraft's smaller, swifter body will save airlines 20% in fuel expenses.
The company adds that the material the plane is constructed from is sturdier than regular aluminum. Boeing is ordering 850 of the planes, which retail for $150 million each.
The Dreamliner houses between 200 to 300 passengers and can fly 2,500 miles. Still, production complications and technical issues have darkened the Dreamliner's spotlight.
Some of the complications have been blamed on large amount of partners Boeing hired.
"They did too much outsourcing, too soon, with too little oversight," said Scott Hamilton of the aviation consulting firm Leeham Co to CNN. "The customers have been mightily (upset) over the creeping delays."
Albaugh admitted that "in hindsight" the huge amount of outsourcing was not a good idea. "There a few things we might have kept inside, yes."
Still, the test flight "is going to validate the airplane to an extent," Albaugh said. "We've got 10 months of flight tests in front of us. ... There's a lot of work to do."
For Tuesday's scheduled test flight, the Dreamliner will fly from the hanger in Washington, and embark on a five-hour flight before landing 40 miles south of Seattle.
"We are going to shake this airplane out to demonstrate that it can do everything we've advertised it to do," Albaugh noted.
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