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Boeing 787 Dreamliner Completes First Flight

The delayed Boeing 787 Dreamliner (earlier post) completed its first flight event yesterday. The flight marks the beginning of a flight test program that will see six airplanes flying nearly around the clock and around the globe, with the airplane’s first delivery scheduled for fourth quarter 2010.

The 787 will use 20% less fuel than today’s airplanes of comparable size, provide airlines with up to 45% more cargo revenue capacity and present passengers with innovations that include a new interior environment with cleaner air, larger windows, more stowage space, improved lighting and other passenger-preferred conveniences.

The newest member of the Boeing family of commercial jetliners took off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. at 10:27 a.m. local time. After approximately three hours, it landed at 1:33 p.m. at Seattle’s Boeing Field.

The 787. Click to enlarge.

787 Chief Pilot Mike Carriker and Capt. Randy Neville tested some of the airplane’s systems and structures, as on-board equipment recorded and transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team at Boeing Field.

After takeoff from Everett, the airplane followed a route over the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Capts. Carriker and Neville took the airplane to an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) and an air speed of 180 knots, or about 207 miles (333 kilometers) per hour, customary on a first flight.

Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, the first Boeing 787 will be joined in the flight test program in the coming weeks and months by five other 787s, including two that will be powered by General Electric GEnx engines.

Fifty-five customers around the world have ordered 840 787s, making the 787 Dreamliner the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner yet.


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This is a huge and historical breakthrough for aviation. Moreover, the fact that Boeing has developed new techniques for construction of very large carbon fiber components will benefit many other industries than just aviation.

In particular, the wind power industry can benefit from using Boeing’s carbon fiber technology to develop light weight wind turbine blades. This will enable the development of bigger more durable and more efficient wind turbines. In addition the dramatically increased use of carbon fiber materials in the aviation industry will drive down the cost of such materials to the benefit of every other industry that uses carbon fiber such as the automotive industry.


It's my understanding that wind turbines do not benefit much from cutting the weight of the blades; after all, the weight is borne by the hub and does not affect the aerodynamic performance, unlike an aircraft where weight leads to induced drag.

The 787 is a great accomplishment, but it appears that the efforts to save cost have instead increased it (and probably led to losses via industrial espionage as well as contracted knowledge transfers which should not have been agreed to).  However, its 20% fuel savings are not enough.  The price of oil is going to contract the aviation sector and make debt very hard to service; air carriers running fully-amortized aircraft will have to charge a fuel-price escalator but are still likely to have the advantage over airlines carrying debt to pay for their fleets.

Disclaimer:  I was personally involved in the B787 project.

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Transport and installation costs are reduced with reduced weight. Moreover, lighter blades imply less expensive towers and nacelles. Recall they need to carry the weight of these blades for 20 years and millions of rotations. Less blade weight also enable longer blades that are necessary for maintaining high capacity factors for installations at low wind sites. Moreover, less blade weight also reduces blade inertia and therefore increases turbine efficiency i.e. capacity factor.

Carbon fiber is already partially used in many blades today but more could be used if the price was reduced and technology for producing very large carbon components was available.1 I believe the Dreamliner will contribute to both.



By my calculations, the aerodynamic forces on a 100-meter rotor disc in a 25-MPH wind can be on the order of half a million newtons.  Further, these forces are perpendicular to the tower, not vertically down from the top of it.  These are much greater than the weight of the blades and will determine the stresses on the parts, including the strength of the bearings and the structure of the nacelle.


Could variable wind pressure be eventually transformed into e-energy without going thru physical rotation and e-generators?


Yes, but it's got serious disadvantages.

Henry Gibson

The fastest and best way to make wind energy profitable with fewer subsidies is to pump air into old sealed mines using nuclear power at night and then release the wind during the day through jet wind turbines. The air can be heated to the highest possible temperatures available from the nuclear reactor and then heated further with fire for higher power if economical. Exhaust heat can be recovered for building heating or cooling. ..HG..


I see Henry has been reading my comments.

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