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Frontiers October 2013 Issue

airplane that we all envisioned 10 years ago,” Jenks said. He was speaking of the 787-9, but his words reflected the vision that Boeing engineers had for an airplane that would become the 787. Jenks knows about that early vision. He has been with the 787 program from the beginning, when a working-together group of airline customers, back in 2001 and 2002, were deciding between a futuristic-looking Boeing jet known as the Sonic Cruiser that would carry passengers just shy of the speed of sound and a more conventional-looking jetliner that would be super-efficient—a new commercial airplane for a new century. They opted for efficiency over speed, and the 7E7 (later renamed 787) was born. In his Everett office, Jenks has a model of the Sonic Cruiser, along with models of the 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10. He was technology integration director for the Sonic Cruiser program before moving over as team leader for wings, empennage and landing gear on the 787. Much of the advanced technology that would have gone into the Sonic Cruiser, he said, instead went into the 787, the first large commercial jetliner with a mostly composite skin instead of metal. The 787-8 entered passenger service with launch customer ANA (All Nippon Airways) in late 2011. Air New Zealand is scheduled to take first delivery of the 787-9 in mid-2014. The next member of the family, the 787-10, is set to deliver in 2018. At first glance, the 787-9 looks pretty much like the 787-8, with the same fuselage cross-section and advanced interior. But the 787-9 is 20 feet (6 meters) longer. Depending on how an airline configures the cabin, that extra length will typically mean about 40 more passengers. The 787-9 has a range of about 8,500 nautical miles (9,800 miles, or 15,700 kilometers), or some 300 nautical miles (350 miles, or 555 kilometers) more than the 787-8. In addition to its longer fuselage and greater range, the 787-9 includes a number of advancements. Take the tail. The leading edge of both 24 BOEING FRONTIERS / OCTOBER 2013 the vertical and horizontal stabilizers on the 787-9 utilize “hybrid laminar flow control,” a breakthrough technology that smooths out airflow and reduces drag on the plane’s tail. That, in turn, reduces fuel use and emissions with every flight—meaning both the airlines and the environment will benefit. Industry engineers worked to perfect hybrid laminar flow control technology for decades, but the weight of the systems was more than the potential fuel savings. Finally, Boeing engineers figured it out, and the 787-9 will be the first production commercial jet to feature the innovative technology, according to John Koppelman, structural design lead engineer on the 787-9 empennage. He was selected as Boeing’s Engineer of the Year in 2012 for his role as team lead on hybrid laminar flow control. Boeing has not only incorporated new technology and improvements to the 787-9, but it has also used lessons learned from the 787-8 to improve the 787 production system and supply chain— helping introduce the 787-9 while ramping up production of the 787-8. The result: The 787-9 went together with an ease that even surprised Jenks and other program leaders. And the first plane, to be joined by the rest of the flight-test fleet by the end of this year, actually weighs several hundred pounds less than engineers had projected when the 787-9 design configuration became firm in 2010. That’s almost unheard of on airplane development programs, even for a derivative model. Employees who assembled the first 787-9 echo what Jenks and others say about how well production has gone. Early on, Boeing took some of its most experienced 787-8 employee teams, gave them some additional training, and moved them over to the 787-9. Those employees brought not only their skills and know-how but also lessons learned from initial production challenges with the 787-8. “It’s awesome how well the build has gone,” said Amanda Evangelista, a manufacturing representative for the 787-9 who was doing the same work on the 787-8. She (Continued on Page 29) GRAPHIC AND PHOTOS: (Clockwise from top left) An artist’s concept of a Boeing 787-9 in the Air New Zealand livery. Boeing Mark Jenks, vice president of 787 development; Harrison Lockhart III; Tom Hagerty, left, and Stephen Soran; Ponareay Heng, left, and Amanda Evangelista; Uyen Mach. bob ferguson/boeing


Frontiers October 2013 Issue
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