Great Ground Effects!!

March 13, 2010 at 12:11 am | Posted in What's happing this week? | 1 Comment

Some big news came out of the 787 flight testing this week. Boeing announced the 787 has traveled down to Southern California to experiment with ground effects testing. What does this mean? Well in a nutshell the plane will fly very close to the ground for longer periods of time to determine the effects of lift and drag on the aircraft. Basically when the plane flies at a prescribed distance above the ground, more lift is generated by the wings because the air is “forced” against the ground.  Check out the picture below (not of a Boeing 787) to see what I mean by flying close to the ground (or in this case water). Either way (water or ground) the effects are the same.

See how far we have come!

March 11, 2010 at 3:21 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Quiz time again. This time I would like to discuss some of the historical advancements within aviation over the last 100 years or so. Nearly everyone knows about the Wright Brothers and their famous first-flight in 1903. However, not many people can recall the first successful commercial jet aircraft…Actually the answer is the Boeing 707 (see picture below) which was a four-engine aircraft capable of transporting 181 passengers at speeds of up to 600 MPH. Wow, just think how this aircraft revolutionized the world as we know it. Think about how culture would be different without overnight shipping and trips around the world in a matter of days. Now just imagine what the 787’s fuel efficiency will do in the future!!!

So when do you think the 707 aircraft was introduced into service.  Look at the quiz below and see if you can figure it out. The answer may surprise some of you.

Its all about how you paint it!

March 8, 2010 at 3:52 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

In light of the release of the new 787 liveries, I have decided to share a bit about paint and aircraft. Most of the aircraft you see flying around today are covered in custom liveries. Here is one of my favorites (although there are quite a few good ones).

So what is the big deal about paint and airplanes. Well for starters, paint has become a big issue in recent years as fuel prices have soared. Think about this, on average a large jet (such as the 787) required 475 pounds of paint! When you carry that extra weight around for a year it adds significantly to the fuel burn of the aircraft. Some airlines (i.e. American Airlines) have opted to go with a polished finish (no paint) in order to cut down on their fuel consumption. While shiny metal might not look as cool as paint, it sure does save fuel.

While we are on the subject of paint, check out some of the new paint schemes for the 787 and think about how much fuel is being burned just so your plane can look cool for the birds!

Pumping out airplanes…

March 7, 2010 at 12:45 am | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

And the answer is 29,385!!! That’s a little over 20 planes a day! Today, things have calmed down a little bit, but with the 787 ramping up production there is no telling what might happen in the future.  Lets say the Boeing 787 receives on average 100 orders every year over the next ten years. This is certainly reasonable given the aircraft has over 800 orders already in just over 4 years. If this happens Boeing will need to produce one 787 every 3.6 days just to keep up with demand.

Now that doesn’t seem like a lot of airplanes. After all, we have all seen the moving assembly lines for car manufacturers which put out 100’s of cars per day. Well, considering that an airplane has over 1,000,000 parts while a car might have 1,000, you can see why one airplane every 3.6 days is impressive!

Take a look at the video below which shows the 737 assembly line in Renton, WA. The 737 assembly line is Boeing’s most efficient line and continues to set the standard for aircraft production. Notice the times labeled on the floor next to the airplanes. These are clock times where the airplane needs to move in order to keep production moving. Hopefully we will see something like this of for the 787!!!

Would you believe it!!!

March 2, 2010 at 12:25 am | Posted in 787 Background | Leave a comment

Here is an interesting question to get you thinking about aircraft production in the United States. In the late 1990’s Boeing merged with The McDonald Douglass Aircraft Company. The merger created the largest aircraft manufacturing company in the world.  Look at the quiz below and see if you can guess the answer. The numbers are representative of what is possible in US aircraft product should the need arise (Like having sales of the 787 take off!!)

And the answer is….

February 28, 2010 at 2:57 am | Posted in 787 Background | Leave a comment

The airplane featured in the previous post is in fact the Boeing Dreamlifter a modified 747. The airplane’s trademark hump was designed to add room such that 787 fuselage sections could fit inside the giant airplane. Currently, many of the fuselage sections for the 787 are made in South Carolina and are flown by the Dreamlifter to Everett WA where the plane is assembled. Along with the large hump, the Dreamlifter has a tail that breaks away and opens like a door to allow the fuselage sections to be loaded.

Where did this come from?

February 24, 2010 at 3:54 am | Posted in 787 Background | Leave a comment

In keeping with the 787 theme, I thought I would share some information about the Dreamlifter. Take a look at the photo below and see just how unique this airplane really is. It is one of the VERY few (in fact I can’t think of another) non symmetric airframe airplanes. Can you guess why it is designed this way? Check out the poll below.  The answer to come in a few days.

787 Engine Out During Flight Testing!

February 23, 2010 at 3:12 am | Posted in What's happing this week? | 1 Comment

So we had some interesting news ( over the weekend about the failure of the 787 engine during flight testing. I know this may seem like a bad thing, but its actually quite the opposite. While the pressure sensing equipment failed, this is not necessarily unexpected considering GE is releasing a brand new engine for the 787 ( What this engine out showed is the airplane is able to sustain flight on one engine. This is great news for anyone who flies long distances over water!!!! For those interested in how a jet engine on a commercial aircraft works check out the video below (unfortunately, its kind of dull but very informative). As a quick overview, a jet engine compresses air, heats it up and expands it to spin a turbine and change the momentum of the air flow. According to Newton, a change in momentum equals a force (Force = mass x acceleration or Force = change in linear momentum). This is how an airplane generates a force with its engine.

What are your thoughts about this? Is this something that still worries you?

Sweet Fuel Efficiency

February 14, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Posted in What's happing this week? | Leave a comment

As the Dreamliner enters its third month of flight testing, I just wanted to provide a quick overview of perhaps the aircraft’s most impressive feature. While the 787 will have a lower cabin altitude (think less noise bleeds and headaches while flying) and bigger windows (think of all the cool things you miss looking of those tiny ones commercial airplanes have now), the best thing about the 787 is its fuel efficiency. The 787 will be 20% more fuel efficient that its current counterpart the 767. So what does 20% equate to in terms of volume. Well the 787 holds just over thirty-three thousand gallons of fuel. On longer flights, the aircraft will use nearly all the fuel to reach its destination.  However, with its 20% more fuel efficient design, the aircraft will burn nearly 6,700 LESS gallons of fuel per flight. Wow! That’s a lot of tanks of gas in my F150.  Considering that Jet fuel (JET A) is hovering right around $4.40 a gallon right now that’s an average savings of $29,000 per flight assuming the plane uses its entire fuel capacity. Now considering that 787-8 has the capacity for 250 seats, the savings per seat is almost $120 in fuel alone! Can someone say cheaper tickets!!

In Case you missed it, 747-8 first flight

February 9, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Posted in 787 Background | 2 Comments

While the 787 flight test is still progressing with little noteworthy news this week, the 747 program (the 787’s much bigger cousin) had some big news this week with the first flight of the brand new 747-8. What’s special about this airplane? Well, it’s the largest commercial aircraft Boeing has ever produced and second largest commercial aircraft in the world. Check out the video for what the first takeoff. Truly remarkable these very large planes are able to get into the air so effortlessly.  Notice the Boeing livery and the subtle “8” on the tail. As a Boeing engineer I actually had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of this remarkable aircraft with the test pilot while it was being built in the factory.

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