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B787 dreamliner: The “plastic” aircraft dream become true

Discussion in 'Biashara, Uchumi na Ujasiriamali' started by ByaseL, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Nov 18, 2011
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
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    The long awaited Boeing 787 Dreamliner has finally arrived on the aviation scene. The first state of the art aircraft was delivered to launch customer, All Nippon Airlines (ANA) of Japan and its maiden commercial flight- Tokyo-Hong Kong was on October 26th, 2011. Although the B787 Dreamliner was three years behind schedule and swallowed about US$ 10 billion in development costs- several billions over the originally estimated development budget. It is, nevertheless, billed as an important milestone in commercial aircraft manufacturing.

    The greatest feat of the Dreamliner lies in its engineering philosophy. The airframe is largely made of composite materials or carbon fibre reinforced plastic (50%) instead of pure aluminium sheets making the aircraft much lighter compared to the current similarly sized aircraft in service. The flight systems incorporate the latest electronic inventions replacing pneumatics and hydraulics for subsystems (e.g. engine starters, brakes) as well as the interior design which has been spruced up with new features such as electronic buttons for shutting and opening the windows, etc. There are video conferencing facilities for business travelers and TV for leisure travelers and many more exotic paraphernalia, if you like.

    The B787 is a long-range, mid-size wide body, twin engine airliner which can seat 210 to 290 passengers depending on the variant. According to Boeing Company the Dreamliner is very fuel efficient in the sense that it consumes 20% less than the similarly sized B767 aircraft thanks to gains from efficient engines and aerodynamics improvements. Some of its distinguished features include a four-panel windshield, noise-reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles and a smoother nose contour.

    Boeing’s business gamble seems to be paying out. So far it’s considered to be the fastest-selling commercial wide-body aircraft in history with the current firm orders as of October 2011 standing at 797 aircraft. The International Leasing Finance Corporation (ILFC) tops the customers list with 74 flying machines, ANA (55), Qantas (50), Air Canada (37), Etihad Airways (31) and Qatar Airways (30) just to mention but a few. From Africa Ethiopian Airlines has ordered 10 and Kenya Airways 9 Dreamliners. According to Boeing Company price list the average price for the B787-8 and B787-9 variants is US$ 193.5 and US$ 227.8 million respectively. Mind you the actual prices usually turn out to be much lower than the indicative shelf prices. This normally depends on the buying power of the client, number of aircraft involved, mode of financing and sometimes manufacturers throw in sweeteners in the deals such as free training, spares and marketing support eventually lowering the price of the aircraft. The Dreamliner order list also includes 16 unidentified clients, mostly likely businesspeople who reportedly include Russian Billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner, Roman Abramovich.

    While Airbus Industrie recently rolled out its equally fuel efficient Airbus 380 behemoth with capacity between 555 to a staggering 800 seats (almost doubling the current B747 capacity) which could render the B747 airliner obsolete, Boeing Company is banking on a much smaller 787 Dreamliner to keep its rival on its toes (from the sales point of view) for a while until the redesigned super sized B747-aircraft is ready for commercial entry.

    Having said that, there’s a very big difference in the marketing approach between the A380 and B787 Dreamliner. While the Superjumbo A380 is a hub-focused (feed in and feed out) airliner the latter is premised on point-to point passenger marketing approach. Because of its sheer size the A380 can only operate to big hubs that have been upgraded to accommodate this particular aircraft. For instance, you need special air bridges, wider parking space and specific ground handling equipment to be able to service the A380. In Africa, it’s only Johannesburg International Airport which can handle the A380 because the rest aren’t operationally ready for this mammoth aircraft.

    The A380 essentially feeds passengers in and out of big hubs such as London, New York , Singapore, etc. Because the B787 aircraft isn’t airport constrained it’s suitable for long haul point to point operations into relatively smaller hubs such as Nairobi, Abu Dhabi, Rome, Kula Lumpar, etc, just like the four engines A340 aircraft- a costly fuel guzzler airliner and more so when the price of fuel has crossed over a wallet-thumping US$ 140 per barrel in the not too distant past. The high fuel prices could work in favour of the Dreamliner. For example, Thai Airways canned its ultra-long haul Bangkok-New York service citing the unbearable operating costs of its four engines A340-500s. Some airlines could opt for the Dreamliner to fill the void.

    The sleek Dreamliner machine has relatively shorter turn-around ground time and therefore can make more flights compared to its competitors thus increasing the potential to make more money for airlines. However, sensing the imminent threat posed by the Dreamliner, Airbus Industrie isn’t taking the challenges lying down. The European aircraft manufacturer is working flat out to develop a twin engine A350 model that will more or less match the technological and economic aspects of the Dreamliner. The A350 will be made of 53% carbon fibre (B787 is 50%). Both are long range and can fly in excess of 8,000 nautical miles without refueling. Somewhat bigger the A350 will have 270-440 seats compared to A787’s capacity mentioned above. A350 promises 25% fuel improvement on the B767 but the manufacturer is also offering it as a replacement for the going-out-of-fashion B747. Without splitting hairs the A350 and the Dreamliner will structurally look similar in the skies but as they say the beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But the most important common attribute for both aircraft is that they are all eco-friendly as far as low carbon gas emission is concerned.

    It’s now abundantly clear that the advent of the Dreamliner technology will set the trend for future aircraft manufacturing. The latest improvements made on this aircraft are clearly geared towards addressing the current aviation challenges such as mitigating the costs of the ever volatile fuel prices, noise and carbon dioxide pollution as well as bringing on board the cutting-edge technology such as communication facilities to bring about the desired efficiency in aviation.

    In this regard it’s comforting to see that Africa aviation has not been left behind in the sense that two airlines from the continent- Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways are amongst the very first customers awaiting delivery of the B787. Coincidentally both airlines opted for General Electric engines to power the Dreamliners and not Rolls Royce engines. Customers for both airlines may soon enjoy the superlative Dreamliner product which will definitely be deployed on the airlines’ long haul routes such as Addis Ababa-Washington and Nairobi-Guangzhou for Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways respectively. As the nickname for the B787 suggests- Dreamliner is indeed a dream come true.

    Byase Luteke
  2. Lukansola

    Lukansola JF-Expert Member

    Nov 18, 2011
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    It would be more interesting to have this information with images, you know they speak a thousand words.

    Kufundisha bila nyenzo kunauwa vipaji!!
  3. Globu

    Globu JF-Expert Member

    Nov 18, 2011
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    Tuwekee picha Mkuu.
  4. pmwasyoke

    pmwasyoke JF-Expert Member

    Nov 18, 2011
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    ATCL itaagiza lini japo mjoa tu?