Boeing recently announced it has completed detailed design for the 787-10 Dreamliner, the newest and longest member of the 787 family. According to a December 2 press release, Boeing engineers reached the milestone nearly two weeks ahead of schedule. As of December 2, the 787-10 has logged 164 orders from nine customers around the world, which has accounted for 14 percent of all 787 orders.
In the composites industry, the 787 family is considered a pioneer in the application of aerospace composites. It is Boeing’s most fuel-efficient airliner – 20 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor, the Boeing 767. According to a 2014 article from Materials Today, the 787 is the first major commercial airplane to have a composite fuselage, composite wings, and use composites in most other airframe components. A 2007 report from Toray notes that each 787 contains approximately 77,000 pounds of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP), made with 23 tons of carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber composites have a higher strength-to-weight ratio than conventional aircraft materials, and help make the 787 a lighter aircraft, knocking 20 percent of the weight compared to aluminum. Nearly half of the 787 is made with composites, and are used on the fuselage, wings, tail, doors, and interior. Boeing had built and tested the first commercial aircraft composite section while studying the proposed Sonic Cruiser in the early 2000s, as well as the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey military transport, which also uses 50 percent composites.
Boeing says that for every development program, the detailed design milestone of the is critical because it means the information needed to build parts and tools for assembly has been completed and released for fabrication or procurement. Major assembly of the 787-10 will begin in 2016, followed by first flight in 2017 and first delivery in 2018. Boeing says it designed the 787-10 for superior efficiency as well as maximum commonality. Ninety-five percent of the design and build of the 787-10 and 787-9 will be identical, which they say will reduce complexity, cost and risk across the production system and providing operational benefits to customers.
“With the 787-10, we are building upon our experience and the 787-9 design itself to create this newest member of the super-efficient 787 family,” said Ken Sanger, vice president of 787 Airplane Development. “Through our dedicated team and our disciplined processes, we have optimized the design for the needs of the market and are excited as we look forward to production.”