Onboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Don’t get too excited. I didn’t actually get to fly on one. But I did get invited to come take a tour of a 787 while it was on the ground here in Long Beach as part of a tour around North America. Of course, I was thrilled to do it.

Beautiful Bird

I had plenty of time to spend on the outside of the airplane, because they had us waiting around for quite some time until Governor Jerry Brown arrived and gave a little speech. In the meantime, we could walk around all different sides of the airplane without anyone stopping us. It was a lot of fun. My first impression was probably skewed by the fact that it was nose to nose with a C-17, the military transport aircraft they make in Long Beach.

Face Off

The 787 really is a good-looking airplane. That nose makes it look mean and fast. In fact, the only thing that makes it look a little slower is the engines themselves. They’re so large and impressive in their own right that they seem a little too big for the airplane. I will say that the engines with their scalloped cowlings and curved fan blades are a sight to be seen.

Engine From Behind

I think what I liked seeing most, however, was the big wing. It’s not A380-massive by any stretch, but it’s contoured with raked and curved wingtips on the end. It’s a thing of beauty.

Yet Another Wing

Enough about the outside. It was finally time to head in. While many people fawned over the seats, I couldn’t have cared less. This is a Boeing demonstrator and we’ll never see those seats on an airplane in service. For me, I was interested in seeing some other features, which I covered in this 1:55 video. (Sorry about some of the sound being too soft.)

First up was the new entryway. Though Boeing clearly made the entry larger than you’ll ever see on any airline, the height of the ceiling with the new arch feature really did make for a different impression of openness. I look forward to seeing how that works with bulkheads on either side in actual airline service.

Entryway

Next up was the overhead bin. They’re big. Nothing revolutionary but certainly big. Last and most important, I wanted to see those big, beautiful windows.

Two Windows

They really are huge and they’re close together. They provide some excellent visibility for passengers. As a window seat guy, I’m really excited about that. But the big win for me was getting to test out the window dimmers.

The 787 doesn’t have window shades but instead uses a method that dims the windows as you like. It takes 90 seconds for the windows to get their darkest, but even then it’s only 98 percent opaque. This is the best thing to happen to windows on airplanes in years. Now those who want to look outside can still do it while those who want to watch movies without glare or sleep can do it as well. I know it sounds silly, but this is a huge improvement.

I didn’t get to experience the low cabin noise, higher humidity, or lower cabin pressurization altitude, because we didn’t fly. Something tells me I’m going to need to seek one of these out sooner rather than later.

[See all my photos of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner]

26 Responses to Onboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

  1. What a beautiful plane, I look forward to seeing it here in Brazil…
    You is a lucky guy!

  2. Well, we know that Boeing hasn’t left the exterior maintenance to Air France.. That is one SHINY Airplane!

    Although, if designed correctly bulkheads could do a great deal to enhance to arch..

  3. Jason H says:

    After all the teething problems it is nice to see the 787 finally starting to make the rounds. I am excited to fly on one also, but it looks like it will be a long wait given the routes it is designed for. Unless UA takes a page out of AF’s book when they got their new A380 and fly a short-haul in order to train cabin crew. Somehow I don’t think that will happen.

  4. My question on the window darking would be does it also block heat from the sun coming in? If you are on the sun side of a flight next to the window you have to close the plastic shade to block the heat, will the darking window do that?

    Good shot of the C-17, that looks massive and bulky I bet next to a sleeker 787.

    Did they say why the engines have that scalloped rear edge to them?

    • Jason H says:

      The scalloping (or chevron nozzles in Boeing parlance) has to do with noise reduction. They are also on the 747-8i/8f. They remix bypass airflow from the forward fan.

    • CF says:

      I think much of the heat that comes through is from direct sunlight, right? I mean, I don’t feel much heat on sunny days unless there’s direct light. So it should stop that.

  5. Eurotourst says:

    Thanks for the great report- very timely as far as I am concerned because I am booked to take the All Nippon 787 flight from Haneda to Frankfurt this coming Sunday, March 18th. Now I am even more eagerly looking forward to it. I am usually an aisle person, but have purposely pre-reserved a window seat to experience the magic of 787 windows!

  6. Waaaaaaay cool! #drooling

  7. JM says:

    Since you were in Long Beach, did any of the assembled VIPs, politicians and Boeing officials there for the 787 display give any hint as to what the long range plans are for the Boeing (former Douglas) plant there?

    I read a while back that the Long Beach City Council passed a resolution encouraging Boeing to consider building the new 737 MAX there, but Boeing said “no thanks” to that offer.

    With Boeing’s closure of Wichita, I wonder if Long Beach’s future looks brighter? Not sure when C-17 production will end, so don’t know what’s next for Long Beach.

    Would hate to see SoCal’s last airliner plant close (even though they don’t make airliners there anymore!).

    Could you enlighten us, Brett?

    JM

    • CF says:

      They didn’t say anything about the future of Long Beach, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Boeing decided to do the 737MAX in Washington – I can’t imagine it would have ever happened in California anyway.

      Regarding the C-17, it continues to have enough orders to keep the plant going for a couple years. They’ve slowed it down dramatically so it has pretty low output. My assumption is that once the C-17 program is gone, Boeing will close up shop down here.

      California is simply too difficult and too expensive for doing business. As a small business owner looking for my first employee, I’m learning this first hand. I can only imagine how much worse it is for a large organization. And the cost of living is so high here that it would shock me if Boeing continued to produce here beyond what’s already happening.

      • One of the other reasons the 737MAX never would’ve made it to LGB is the supply chain is finely tuned around getting parts to Renton. Unlike the 787 which has its own fleet to fly parts around, the 737 fuselages come in via train premade, and many of the parts are made locally.

        Now, Boeing did kick around adding some 737 capacity in LGB when the 717 was discontinued, but the union in washington vetoed that idea. Since that time they’ve got the Renton plant pushing out a plane a day or so..

  8. A says:

    Nice. Looking forward to a trip report.

  9. Bobber says:

    I want a go. Can’t (yet) find a reason to go to Auckland, but fancy a trip on the UA 787’s when they get them:)

  10. Very impressive. I enjoyed all the photos. Did not hurt to firmly establish that the LGB runway can handle it.

  11. David Lynn says:

    I love all the pictures and video. I am so excited to see it sometime. I hope it doesn’t become for me what the 747 is for my dad having gone his whole life never flying on one.

  12. Andrew says:

    What a great looking aircraft.

    I’m interested to know if anyone has the actual levels of noise reduction achieved now that the 787 is in service?

    It makes a trip so much easier if the noise level in the cabin is reduced.

    I also think the new window shades are great! I’m wondering if the Cabin Crew can override the passegers switches on take off and landing when everyone is expected have their window shades open ?

  13. SEAN says:

    Do you know what airline & routes the 787 will be floan to & from JFK or EWR? BTW, that darkening window feature is cool.

    • CF says:

      I haven’t heard any routes from JFK or Newark yet. I believe United has only talked about Houston so far. You can go from Boston to Tokyo next month on JAL, however.

  14. FRANK says:

    Kinda bummed. you get to view a brand new aircraft and I witness the window Dimmers? See a door? Engine?
    You’re usually more thorough, more investigative in your analysis. Being a crewmember, I’m jealous. lol. I would of enjoyed seeing the galleys, anything innovative there? The lavatories. Cargo bins. Crew rest areas. the Cockpit. Please, tell me there’s more!!

  15. For youth generation this type of articles was totally bored but your article was fully different and realistic to the young generation for the future life. Good work man! Best wishes for the great creation of this blog

  16. Cleakstar says:

    Boeing 787 is huge. I have been on it before. Are they bigger than the A380s?

  17. About the windows that dim: I hear there are issues, and curious if you have heard. For some, sleeping is difficult because the shades do not get dark enough. Another is that they are too slow to change from light to dark. I’ve also heard of electrical issues. Have others heard these or other issues?

    • CF says:

      I haven’t heard about any issues. It also seems to get quite dark so I’d be surprised if people really couldn’t sleep. Regarding the speed, it is slow. Takes a couple minutes to fully change.

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