The new passenger jet launched by Boeing boasts a series of fuel-efficient design features that have sparked huge demand, within hours of the news going public. The new jet was rolled out from its giant facility in Everett, about 40 km north of Seattle.
The Dreamliner, Boeing’s first new model in 13 years, takes advantage of the advances in aviation technology in the past decade. It is designed using high-tech plastic composites like carbon-fibre instead of aluminium and is capable of flying long-haul routes using up to 20% less fuel.
“We are bullish about growth and think we have the right combination of circumstances today in terms of a growing market and fleet, the merger which is bringing together the domestic and international network and realization among employees that without substantial hard work nothing is going to happen,” Thulasidas said. He said this “right combination should make us among the five best airlines in Asia which is a modest ambition. I feel Asian airlines are the best in the world,” the Air India chief added.
Boeing Co. unveiled its lightweight, carbon-composite 787 Dreamliner on 8July, in front of 15,000 cheering employees, customers and suppliers, capping a weekend of hype and a flurry of orders for the new fuel-efficient plane.
The elaborate unveiling ceremony, at the company’s Everett, Washington plant, gave the crowds their first full look at the mid-sized, long-range jetliner, which is Boeing’s first all-new plane in 12 years and has already attracted more than $100 billion (Rs 4,00,000 crore) in orders.
Thousands more watched the event -- hosted by former TV news anchor Tom Brokaw live at Qwest Field stadium in nearby Seattle, and Boeing broadcast the ceremony worldwide on satellite television.
The gleaming, freshly painted jet was pulled into the main doors of Boeing’s plant to resounding cheers, after an hour-long introduction involving live picture feeds on a massive screen from teams working on parts of the plane from Japan, Italy, South Carolina and elsewhere.
Apart from its swept back, upward tilting wings, the plane did not look radically new on the outside. But beneath the just-dried paint the structure is made up of 50% carbon composite materials and another 15% titanium, making it much lighter and fuel efficient than existing jetliners of the same size.
After the ceremony, the audience of Boeing employees, aviation industry VIPs and media surged around the plane, with hundreds congregating under the fuselage to reach up and touch the glossy carbon.
The plane is not scheduled to begin flight testing for at least another six weeks, and still needs its internal power and control systems fitted and functioning. It also needs about 1,000 temporary fastening bolts replaced by permanent ones, which Boeing said it will start work on immediately.