Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (2024)

Table of Contents
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner brought aviation into a new next-generation era when it took its first flight on December 15, 2009, and represented the future for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. After years of building widebody aircraft with four engines, it wasn't until the 1990s that Boeing shifted to twin-engine dual-aisle aircraft. Following the success of the 777, Boeing's best-selling wide-body planes, Boeing decided to continue the trend with a focus on efficiency and launched a new program in 2003 dubbed the "7E7." The "E" would be the focal point for the aircraft, representing that the jet would lead in such factors as efficiency, economics, and environmental standards. Instead of trying to level up the 777, Boeing looked back to see which seat market could be improved. It decided upon the 200-to-250-seat market that was served by the Boeing 767. The 7E7 wouldn't be Boeing's largest or fastest plane, but it didn't need to be. The new aircraft would be called the Dreamliner following a worldwide vote and given the designation of the 787 as it followed the 777. Other potential names for the aircraft included the Global Cruiser, eLiner, and Stratoclimber. Boeing began the $8 billion development of the aircraft in 2004 when Japan's All Nippon Airways placed a $6 billion order for 50 of the type, making Boeing history with the largest order for a new passenger jet aircraft. Before production on the first model began, Boeing was already touting its capabilities including ranges of up to 8,500 nautical miles, 20 percent less fuel consumption compared to similar aircraft and a slew of passenger-friendly amenities. Airlines would have a choice with the Dreamliner on what would be powering the aircraft with Boeing installing a standard engine interface to accommodate two models, the General Electric GEnx… ...and the Rolls Royce Trent 1000, the engine which would later cause trouble for the aircraft. Driving its efficiency would be its one-piece carbon fiber fuselage, a lightweight alternative to aluminum that reduced the need for rivets and panels to assemble the aircraft. Analysts were watching its development closely as an aircraft of this caliber had never been attempted before and it was a big bet for Boeing that would determine its position in commercial aviation for years to come. Though initial sales were record-breaking, Boeing would ultimately have to live up to its promises of increased efficiency and better economics on a new type of plane it had never built before. Boeing would produce three variants, the smaller -8, the mid-size -9, and the larger -10. Production would be a global affair, with companies in countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan, France, and Italy taking part in developing various aspects of the aircraft. When the first -8 variant was first unveiled in 2007, the aircraft was unlike anything flying at the time and looked nothing like any other products that came from Boeing's facilities. Everything about the aircraft's appearance was distinct including the co*ckpit windows… ...chevron on the back of the engines to reduce noise… ...and the wings. The smaller -8 can seat up to 248 passengers in a two-class configuration and fly up to 7,305 nautical miles, almost the distance between New York and Bangkok. On the inside, the Dreamliner promises a spacious cabin with lower cabin altitude pressure allowing higher onboard humidity levels... ...as well as larger windows with dimmers instead of shades... ...and an ultra-modern co*ckpit with high-definition displays. By the time it debuted, the unique aircraft already had over $100 billion in orders for 677 models. The new plane was all set to be delivered to All Nippon Airways in 2008 until Boeing ran into production problems. Issues with the aircraft's suppliers and primary engine manufacturer Rolls Royce had pushed back test flights and the first flight of the aircraft was pushed back until late 2009. The aircraft finally flew for the first time on December 15, 2009, marking the start of the next-generation revolution in aviation and immediately rendering iconic aircraft like the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 obsolete. After a year and a half of test flights, the first Dreamliner was delivered to All Nippon Airways on September 26, 2011, nearly ten years following its order. All Nippon Airways would be one of the Dreamliner's biggest fans, using all three variants to round out its fleet and shunning Airbus' rival offering, the A350 XWB. After All Nippon took delivery of the first seven Dreamliners, deliveries to other customers began, including Japan Airlines... ...Ethiopian Airlines… ...United Airlines… ...LOT Polish Airlines… ...Qatar Airways… ...British Airways… ...and Aeromexico. Not long after the first delivery of the -8, Boeing debuted another newborn — the 787-9. The younger sibling first flew on September 17, 2013. As the middle child of the family, the -9 was 20 feet longer than the -8, seating up to 296 passengers in a two-class configuration. It can also fly 250 nautical miles further than its older sibling. This time, Air New Zealand took delivery of the first aircraft, which would become its flagship. The plane went on to fly some of Air New Zealand's longest routes, including between Auckland and Houston… …and will fly what will be the fourth-longest route in the world between Auckland and New York starting in September. Long, thin routes, such as the ones Air New Zealand would be using the plane, were precisely the type that Boeing promised it could fly. The Dreamliner allowed airlines to open up routes to previously unviable markets. British Airways used the aircraft for a similar purpose, opening up routes from London to smaller markets in the US including Charleston, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. Many of the operators of the -8 jumped onboard the -9 with orders from airlines such as All Nippon Airways… ...United Airlines,… ...and Japan Airlines. But, the -9 saw many first-time customers purchasing the aircraft besides Air New Zealand, favoring the greater capacity and range, including Virgin Atlantic Airways… ...Etihad Airways… ...Air Canada… ...Vietnam Airlines… ...KLM Royal Dutch Airlines… ...Qantas... ...and LATAM Airlines. The efficiency offered by the aircraft quickly allowed it to dominate the list of the world's longest flights and create new ones, including San Francisco to Singapore operated by a United Airlines Boeing 787-9, which is a 7,339-nautical mile route… ...and Perth to London operated by a Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner, a 7,829-nautical mile route that became the first nonstop link between Australia and the United Kingdom. Qantas even used the aircraft to test nonstop flights from London and New York to Sydney, known as Project Sunshine. The longest-ever nonstop Boeing 787 flight was operated by Comlux in March 2021, flying 12,106 miles from Seoul, South Korea, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The ultra-long-haul flight lasted 20 hours and 19 minutes. While the Dreamliner is revolutionary in its efficiency and performance, the aircraft also sparked a low-cost revolution, with multiple budget long-haul carriers adopting the aircraft as a way to bring down operating costs. Norwegian Air Shuttle's low-cost long-haul spinoff, aptly named Norwegian Long-Haul, used the aircraft to fly transatlantic routes between Europe and North America with advertised fares as low as $99 for a base ticket. However, COVID-19, combined with other factors like increased competition, forced Norwegian to stop long-haul flying in 2021. The carrier said it will not resume the service post-pandemic. Nevertheless, other budget carriers, including Singapore-based Scoot and Australia-based Jetstar, continue to fly the Dreamliner long-haul. European low-cost startup Norse Atlantic Airlines also flies the Dreamliner, which it calls "Longships," across the Atlantic. The carrier started operations in June 2022 and hopes to fill the market gap left behind by Norwegian. The final and largest Dreamliner variant, the 787-10, took the skies on March 31, 2017, eight years after the first variant did so in 2009. The 787-10 is 18 feet longer than the -9 and 38 feet longer than the -8, and is able to seat 336 passengers in a two-class configuration. However, the shorter-ranged aircraft is only able to fly as far as 6,330 nautical miles, which is about 975 nautical miles fewer than the -8, and 1,235 nautical miles shorter than the -9. The first 787-10 was delivered to Singapore Airlines on March 25, 2018, and the full Dreamliner family was operating passenger flights all over the world soon after. United Airlines became the first and only US operator of all three variants in 2018, with the airline being an early adopter of the 787-8 and subsequently taking delivery of each additional variant as they became available. Despite its success, the 787 was not without its issues as the -8 fleet was grounded in 2013 following a series of malfunctions with the aircraft's battery. The grounding only lasted four months, but permanently scarred the 787's entry into service after images like this one of an ANA 787 making an emergency landing circulated. Once that issue was resolved, another arose in the aircraft's Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines, where parts of the engine were cracking. The issue, which is ongoing, has cost Rolls Royce over $1 billion and grounded 787 fleets equipped with the manufacturer's engines, crippling numerous airlines and forcing them to spend millions on leased aircraft. As of 2022, most of the Trent 1000 issues have been resolved, though Rolls-Royce said there is one modification that will be completed next year. While Boeing hoped that would be the end of its 787 problems, another came up in 2019 when engineers voluntarily grounded eight planes due to paper-width gaps in the fuselage. "Individually, these issues, while not up to specifications, still meet limit load conditions," Boeing said at the time. "When combined in the same location, however, they result in a condition that does not meet limit load requirements." Shortly after, the Federal Aviation Administration launched its own investigation of the Dreamliner. In October 2020, future deliveries of the jet were paused, though Boeing was still able to deliver 14 jets by May 2021. However, the FAA re-halted deliveries the same month over inspection method concerns, and Boeing was left with 120 jets, worth a collective $25 billion, sitting stagnant. After 15 months of waiting, the FAA gave Boeing the green light to resume deliveries, with the first 787 going to American Airlines on Wednesday. The agency still says it will inspect all Dreamliner airworthiness ahead of future deliveries. According to the Wall Street Journal, American's plane was approved on Monday. FAA acting Administrator Billy Nolen met with inspectors at Boeing's South Carolina Delivery Center on August 4 ahead of the plane's final approval. His visit was "to ensure that the FAA is satisfied that Boeing has taken the appropriate steps to improve manufacturing quality and to guarantee the autonomy of workers who ensure regulatory compliance on the company's assembly lines." Despite its issues and initial unprofitability, the Dreamliner has grown to be one of Boeing's best-sellers with nearly 1,500 orders. Once word of the Dreamliner and its next-generation capabilities was announced, rival manufacturer Airbus also jumped into the market and began developing the A350 XWB and the Airbus A330neo, the 787's main competitors. The Dreamliner was first in the market, however, and its legacy can be seen at every major airport with airlines all over the world on every populated continent adopting the type. References

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Thomas Pallini and Taylor Rains

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (1)

  • First flown in 2009, the Boeing 787 was the first next-generation plane produced by a major aircraft manufacturer.
  • The jet was produced following the success of the Boeing 777, but it has faced setbacks over the years.
  • Quality concerns halted deliveries of the jet in 2020, but the FAA recently gave Boeing the green light to resume.

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The Boeing 787 Dreamliner brought aviation into a new next-generation era when it took its first flight on December 15, 2009, and represented the future for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (2)

Source: Boeing

After years of building widebody aircraft with four engines, it wasn't until the 1990s that Boeing shifted to twin-engine dual-aisle aircraft.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (3)

AP

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Following the success of the 777, Boeing's best-selling wide-body planes, Boeing decided to continue the trend with a focus on efficiency and launched a new program in 2003 dubbed the "7E7."

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (4)

Source: Boeing

The "E" would be the focal point for the aircraft, representing that the jet would lead in such factors as efficiency, economics, and environmental standards.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (5)

Source: Boeing

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Instead of trying to level up the 777, Boeing looked back to see which seat market could be improved. It decided upon the 200-to-250-seat market that was served by the Boeing 767. The 7E7 wouldn't be Boeing's largest or fastest plane, but it didn't need to be.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (6)

Source: Boeing

The new aircraft would be called the Dreamliner following a worldwide vote and given the designation of the 787 as it followed the 777. Other potential names for the aircraft included the Global Cruiser, eLiner, and Stratoclimber.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (7)

Source: Boeing

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Boeing began the $8 billion development of the aircraft in 2004 when Japan's All Nippon Airways placed a $6 billion order for 50 of the type, making Boeing history with the largest order for a new passenger jet aircraft.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (8)

Source: Boeing and New York Times

Before production on the first model began, Boeing was already touting its capabilities including ranges of up to 8,500 nautical miles, 20 percent less fuel consumption compared to similar aircraft and a slew of passenger-friendly amenities.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (9)

Source: Boeing

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Airlines would have a choice with the Dreamliner on what would be powering the aircraft with Boeing installing a standard engine interface to accommodate two models, the General Electric GEnx…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (10)

Source: Boeing

...and the Rolls Royce Trent 1000, the engine which would later cause trouble for the aircraft.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (11)

Source: Boeing

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Driving its efficiency would be its one-piece carbon fiber fuselage, a lightweight alternative to aluminum that reduced the need for rivets and panels to assemble the aircraft.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (12)

Source: New York Times

Analysts were watching its development closely as an aircraft of this caliber had never been attempted before and it was a big bet for Boeing that would determine its position in commercial aviation for years to come.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (13)

Source: New York Times

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Though initial sales were record-breaking, Boeing would ultimately have to live up to its promises of increased efficiency and better economics on a new type of plane it had never built before.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (14)

Source: New York Times

Boeing would produce three variants, the smaller -8, the mid-size -9, and the larger -10.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (15)

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Production would be a global affair, with companies in countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan, France, and Italy taking part in developing various aspects of the aircraft.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (16)

Source: New York Times

When the first -8 variant was first unveiled in 2007, the aircraft was unlike anything flying at the time and looked nothing like any other products that came from Boeing's facilities.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (17)

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Everything about the aircraft's appearance was distinct including the co*ckpit windows…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (18)

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...and the wings.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (20)

The smaller -8 can seat up to 248 passengers in a two-class configuration and fly up to 7,305 nautical miles, almost the distance between New York and Bangkok.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (21)

Source: Boeing

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On the inside, the Dreamliner promises a spacious cabin with lower cabin altitude pressure allowing higher onboard humidity levels...

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (22)

...as well as larger windows with dimmers instead of shades...

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (23)

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...and an ultra-modern co*ckpit with high-definition displays.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (24)

By the time it debuted, the unique aircraft already had over $100 billion in orders for 677 models.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (25)

Source: New York Times

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The new plane was all set to be delivered to All Nippon Airways in 2008 until Boeing ran into production problems. Issues with the aircraft's suppliers and primary engine manufacturer Rolls Royce had pushed back test flights and the first flight of the aircraft was pushed back until late 2009.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (26)

Source: New York Times

The aircraft finally flew for the first time on December 15, 2009, marking the start of the next-generation revolution in aviation and immediately rendering iconic aircraft like the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 obsolete.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (27)

Source: Boeing

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After a year and a half of test flights, the first Dreamliner was delivered to All Nippon Airways on September 26, 2011, nearly ten years following its order.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (28)

Source: Boeing

All Nippon Airways would be one of the Dreamliner's biggest fans, using all three variants to round out its fleet and shunning Airbus' rival offering, the A350 XWB.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (29)

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After All Nippon took delivery of the first seven Dreamliners, deliveries to other customers began, including Japan Airlines...

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (30)

Source: Planespotters.net

...Ethiopian Airlines…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (31)

Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

Source: Planespotters.net

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...United Airlines…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (32)

David McNew/Getty Images

Source: Planespotters.net

...LOT Polish Airlines…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (33)

REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Source: Planespotters.net

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...Qatar Airways…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (34)

Source: Planespotters.net

...British Airways…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (35)

Source: Planespotters.net

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...and Aeromexico.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (36)

Source: Planespotters.net

Not long after the first delivery of the -8, Boeing debuted another newborn — the 787-9. The younger sibling first flew on September 17, 2013.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (37)

Source: Boeing

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As the middle child of the family, the -9 was 20 feet longer than the -8, seating up to 296 passengers in a two-class configuration. It can also fly 250 nautical miles further than its older sibling.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (38)

Source: Boeing

This time, Air New Zealand took delivery of the first aircraft, which would become its flagship. The plane went on to fly some of Air New Zealand's longest routes, including between Auckland and Houston…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (39)

Source: Boeing

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…and will fly what will be the fourth-longest route in the world between Auckland and New York starting in September.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (40)

ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock

Air New Zealand will operate the 4th longest flight in the world when it launches the first-ever nonstop route between the US East Coast and the South Pacific nation

Long, thin routes, such as the ones Air New Zealand would be using the plane, were precisely the type that Boeing promised it could fly. The Dreamliner allowed airlines to open up routes to previously unviable markets.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (41)

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British Airways used the aircraft for a similar purpose, opening up routes from London to smaller markets in the US including Charleston, South Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans, and Pittsburgh.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (42)

Many of the operators of the -8 jumped onboard the -9 with orders from airlines such as All Nippon Airways…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (43)

Source: Planespotters.net

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...United Airlines,…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (44)

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Source: Planespotters.net

...and Japan Airlines.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (45)

Source: Planespotters.net

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But, the -9 saw many first-time customers purchasing the aircraft besides Air New Zealand, favoring the greater capacity and range, including Virgin Atlantic Airways…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (46)

Source: Planespotters.net

...Etihad Airways…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (47)

Source: Planespotters.net

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...Air Canada

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (48)

Source: Planespotters.net

...Vietnam Airlines…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (49)

Source: Planespotters.net

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...KLM Royal Dutch Airlines…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (50)

Source: Planespotters.net

...Qantas...

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (51)

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Source: Planespotters.net

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...and LATAM Airlines.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (52)

David Slotnick/Business Insider

Source: Planespotters.net

The efficiency offered by the aircraft quickly allowed it to dominate the list of the world's longest flights and create new ones, including San Francisco to Singapore operated by a United Airlines Boeing 787-9, which is a 7,339-nautical mile route…

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (53)

Source: Forbes

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...and Perth to London operated by a Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner, a 7,829-nautical mile route that became the first nonstop link between Australia and the United Kingdom.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (54)

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Source: Forbes

Qantas even used the aircraft to test nonstop flights from London and New York to Sydney, known as Project Sunshine.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (55)

Qantas will launch the world's longest flights, flying nonstop to New York and London from Sydney in 2025 — see what the 20-hour flights will look like

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The longest-ever nonstop Boeing 787 flight was operated by Comlux in March 2021, flying 12,106 miles from Seoul, South Korea, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The ultra-long-haul flight lasted 20 hours and 19 minutes.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (56)

Source: Aviacionline

While the Dreamliner is revolutionary in its efficiency and performance, the aircraft also sparked a low-cost revolution, with multiple budget long-haul carriers adopting the aircraft as a way to bring down operating costs.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (57)

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Norwegian Air Shuttle's low-cost long-haul spinoff, aptly named Norwegian Long-Haul, used the aircraft to fly transatlantic routes between Europe and North America with advertised fares as low as $99 for a base ticket.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (58)

However, COVID-19, combined with other factors like increased competition, forced Norwegian to stop long-haul flying in 2021. The carrier said it will not resume the service post-pandemic.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (59)

Source: Forbes

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Nevertheless, other budget carriers, including Singapore-based Scoot and Australia-based Jetstar, continue to fly the Dreamliner long-haul.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (60)

European low-cost startup Norse Atlantic Airlines also flies the Dreamliner, which it calls "Longships," across the Atlantic. The carrier started operations in June 2022 and hopes to fill the market gap left behind by Norwegian.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (61)

Norse Atlantic Airways

What passengers can expect when booking Europe's newest low-cost airline that will begin service to the US this summer

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The final and largest Dreamliner variant, the 787-10, took the skies on March 31, 2017, eight years after the first variant did so in 2009.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (62)

Source: Boeing

The 787-10 is 18 feet longer than the -9 and 38 feet longer than the -8, and is able to seat 336 passengers in a two-class configuration.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (63)

Source: Boeing

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However, the shorter-ranged aircraft is only able to fly as far as 6,330 nautical miles, which is about 975 nautical miles fewer than the -8, and 1,235 nautical miles shorter than the -9.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (64)

Boeing

The first 787-10 was delivered to Singapore Airlines on March 25, 2018, and the full Dreamliner family was operating passenger flights all over the world soon after.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (65)

Source: Boeing

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United Airlines became the first and only US operator of all three variants in 2018, with the airline being an early adopter of the 787-8 and subsequently taking delivery of each additional variant as they became available.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (66)

Despite its success, the 787 was not without its issues as the -8 fleet was grounded in 2013 following a series of malfunctions with the aircraft's battery.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (67)

Source: New York Times

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The grounding only lasted four months, but permanently scarred the 787's entry into service after images like this one of an ANA 787 making an emergency landing circulated.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (68)

Source: FlightGlobal

Once that issue was resolved, another arose in the aircraft's Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines, where parts of the engine were cracking.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (69)

Source: CNBC

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The issue, which is ongoing, has cost Rolls Royce over $1 billion and grounded 787 fleets equipped with the manufacturer's engines, crippling numerous airlines and forcing them to spend millions on leased aircraft.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (70)

Source: CNBC

As of 2022, most of the Trent 1000 issues have been resolved, though Rolls-Royce said there is one modification that will be completed next year.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (71)

Source: Reuters

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While Boeing hoped that would be the end of its 787 problems, another came up in 2019 when engineers voluntarily grounded eight planes due to paper-width gaps in the fuselage.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (72)

Source: Wall Street Journal

"Individually, these issues, while not up to specifications, still meet limit load conditions," Boeing said at the time. "When combined in the same location, however, they result in a condition that does not meet limit load requirements."

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (73)

Source: Reuters

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Shortly after, the Federal Aviation Administration launched its own investigation of the Dreamliner. In October 2020, future deliveries of the jet were paused, though Boeing was still able to deliver 14 jets by May 2021.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (74)

Source: Aviation International News

However, the FAA re-halted deliveries the same month over inspection method concerns, and Boeing was left with 120 jets, worth a collective $25 billion, sitting stagnant.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (75)

Source: WSJ

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After 15 months of waiting, the FAA gave Boeing the green light to resume deliveries, with the first 787 going to American Airlines on Wednesday.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (76)

Source: American Airlines

The agency still says it will inspect all Dreamliner airworthiness ahead of future deliveries. According to the Wall Street Journal, American's plane was approved on Monday.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (77)

Source: Reuters, Wall Street Journal

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FAA acting Administrator Billy Nolen met with inspectors at Boeing's South Carolina Delivery Center on August 4 ahead of the plane's final approval.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (78)

Source: Reuters

His visit was "to ensure that the FAA is satisfied that Boeing has taken the appropriate steps to improve manufacturing quality and to guarantee the autonomy of workers who ensure regulatory compliance on the company's assembly lines."

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (79)

Source: Reuters

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Despite its issues and initial unprofitability, the Dreamliner has grown to be one of Boeing's best-sellers with nearly 1,500 orders.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (80)

Source: Wall Street Journal

Once word of the Dreamliner and its next-generation capabilities was announced, rival manufacturer Airbus also jumped into the market and began developing the A350 XWB and the Airbus A330neo, the 787's main competitors.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (81)

AKSARAN/Gamma-Rapho/Getty

Airbus recently delivered the 350th A350 plane, its answer to Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner. Here's how the new aircraft is reshaping air travel.

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The Dreamliner was first in the market, however, and its legacy can be seen at every major airport with airlines all over the world on every populated continent adopting the type.

Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (82)

REUTERS/Phil Noble

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Boeing's revolutionary 787 Dreamliner has changed air travel forever. Here's how the company left competitors in the dust with a risky $8 billion bet. (2024)

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