January 16, 2010 Leave a comment
by Respicio A. Espirito Santo Jr. This past Tuesday, December 15, 2009, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its first flight. As widely reported in the last 2 years, the development of the aircraft was quite turbulent, in part largely due to the complexity in dealing with several new technologies in materials (surely one of the greatest advances of the 787), new systems, new concepts, and also due to the management and logistics of design/production between Boeing and hundreds of new partners and suppliers. Even with all these setbacks, but owing to its promised extraordinary efficiency and performance, the aircraft is the most successful in terms of orders “before-first-flight” in Boeing’s commercial aircraft history. For all of this and much more the 787 has everything to become a milestone in the history of commercial aviation. From its introduction into airline service, all other large/medium commercial aircraft must incorporate new design philosophies and concepts, since only speaking of “new technologies” is totally redundant. Therefore, sets of paradigms will be broken and new ones will be created. I foresee that in 40, 50 years the airline industry, the press, regulators, legislators and the worldwide society will be referring to something like “… before the 787, the general view was that …” or maybe “… the aircraft imposed a vast new range of parameters in terms of efficiency and comfort to passengers and airlines…”. However, for all of this to happen in the most positive and constructive ways for the airline industry and, most of all, to passengers and would-be-passengers in the world, it is essential that the 787 becomes an absolute success. And I write these words because not only Boeing’s Commercial Aircraft Division depends on a fully successful 787; the Dreamliner success will also spur a continuous and an indispensable search for the highest-possible safety added to efficient and environmentally friendly designs on Airbus, Embraer, Bombardier, ATR and in all other commercial aircraft manufacturers, especially those that seek to (re)enter the market, such as Sukhoi, Mitsubishi and the new companies in China, Russia and, probably, India and Korea. In other words: the success of all other aircraft manufacturers also depend on the 787 being extremely successful. Whether only on the ‘politically correct’ side or on a sincere appreciation, the official statement from Airbus on the first flight of the 787 expresses a great truth: the constant advances in commercial aviation are a direct and positive result of competition. For this and much more, all of us citizens of the World must hope and cheer so that the 787 Dreamliner may become a complete success and a great milestone in the history of commercial aviation.