The team creating the all-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner has made significant progress since launching the program two years ago today. Boeing launched the program on April 26, 2004, with a record launch order for 50 airplanes for ANA (All Nippon Airways).
“ANA led the way with its launch order,” said Mike Bair, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “Since that order, we have seen a steady pace of additional orders from around the world.”
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the most successful new airplane launch in the history of Boeing, outpacing the popular 747, 777 and even the 737 Next-Generation for the same points in history relative to launch.
To date, 29 customers have made orders or commitments for 393 airplanes—350 of those are firm orders worth roughly $51 billion at current list prices. The first three years of production are sold out and demand for subsequent years is high.
“Market response to this airplane is unprecedented,” said Bair. “Every way we look at it—the number of customers, the variety of customers in terms of location and business model, the number of orders and even repeat business—we just couldn’t be happier.
“We have active proposals in the hands of 30 customers for an additional 500 airplanes. These are proposals that the airlines have requested and are actively considering. We are bringing the right airplane to market.”
In the past 24 months, the 787 team has demonstrated the composite manufacturing technology that will allow the Dreamliner to be made primarily of this superior material.
Nine composite fuselage sections have been manufactured at facilities in Seattle and Wichita, Kansas. A demonstration wing box has also been built in Seattle.
Extensive testing on systems components is also under way at sites around the world. In addition, both the General Electric and Rolls-Royce engines have started their test programs.
“Our technology development effort is proceeding as planned,” said Bair. “We understand the technologies needed for the airplane and the team of professionals from Boeing and our partners is working tirelessly to develop and prove them.”
“We know what our program challenges are and we’re working through them together,” Bair said.
Global Team Engaged
Contracting for 787 work is primarily complete. While the team of companies participating directly with Boeing on the 787 is smaller than on past programs, with larger work packages being contracted to fewer companies, the total team including sub-tier contracts involves companies from approximately two dozen countries.
There are now 135 sites around the world where the design of the 787 can proceed using the new digital design tools being provided by Dassault Systemes.
With more than three million square feet of new factory space being built around the globe to support the manufacturing of the Dreamliner, the project is the world’s largest industrialization effort.
“It is humbling to travel around the world and see the experience, dedication and hard work that are going into this airplane,” said Bair. “We have made impressive progress over the past 24 months.
“And the next two years will be equally challenging and exciting,” he said. “Within that time frame, we will have built our first several airplanes, started our flight test program and be well on our way to certification and first deliveries.”