ZA004, the fourth flight test 787, being moved from the final assembly bay to a temporary facility at Aviation Technical Services (ATS), south of Paine Field in Everett, Washington. Boeing has leased hangar space from ATS to peform side-of-body modifications. (Picture © Boeing.)
ZA004, the fourth flight test 787, being moved from the final assembly bay to a temporary facility at Aviation Technical Services (ATS), south of Paine Field in Everett, Washington. Boeing has leased hangar space from ATS to peform side-of-body modifications. (Picture © Boeing.)

Four years ago, Boeing promised a dream of an airliner; in fact it named its new B7E7 (subsequently redesignated B787) mid-size, wide-body passenger twin-jet, the Dreamliner. Among its claims was that this aircraft, super-light by virtue of its unprecedented 50% (by weight) composites content, would be 17% more fuel efficient than the metal B767 it was intended to replace, as well as more comfortable for passengers.

Unhappily the dream has soured somewhat, the project having become mired in serial snags and delays. Boeing has experienced a veritable nightmare with its ‘plastic fantastic’ and has struggled to put the project back on track.

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This article was published in the November/December 2009 issue of Reinforced Plastics magazine.