Boeing has designed this aircraft in a number of creative ways that were intended to make flying a much more enjoyable experience. Unfortunately the plane has undergone many problems with various components of its design, especially the battery, which is most likely due to the sheer number of new features in this plane that have not been fully tested. While the plane itself may not be a perfect example of successful innovation in aerospace, many of the technologies incorporated on the plane are very impressive and worth discussing.
For starters, the Dreamliner is 60% less noisy than other planes of similar size. This is mostly due to the materials used in the cabin and on the exterior as well. The fuselage is made of lightweight composite materials including a carbon fiber and epoxy composite that make the plane very fuel efficient. The design is so fuel efficient in fact that it would have been the first midsize plane to be able to fly long distance trips.
The design is also very space efficient as seen by its 30% larger overhead storage area and window size compared to similar size planes. The windows also no longer have the plastic shade. Boeing came up with a creative idea here that suits this decade much better than a simple shade. Each window has a button that allows for the adjustment of transparency of the window using an electrochromic dimming system. This works by applying a burst of electricity to reduce the transparency in the special type of glass that the window is made of. So basically each window seat passenger gets to control the brightness of their window using a button instead of a shade.
Another aspect of the Dreamliner that Boeing is particularly proud of is the LED mood lighting installed in the cabin. The lights are programmed to glow certain colors at particular times such as an orange light during meal time and a soft lavender glow when passengers need to relax. Many studies have been done on testing the effects of color on our moods and I think this is quite an interesting use of that information.
Probably the feature that was getting the Dreamliner the most media attention is the fact that it runs on a biofuel blend of mostly used cooking oil. Combined with the technological innovations, this fuel would have resulted in the plane emitting a total of 30% less greenhouse gasses than other planes of the same size.
The concept that I find the most innovative and impressive about this design is its turbulence reducing system. The engineers on this project came up with algorithms that work in combination with sensors and accelerometers on the plane in order to predict a big turbulence bump and change the wing control surfaces in minor ways in order to mitigate the effects of the turbulence.
I honestly have no idea what other applications this technology can have, aside from possibly increased stability control on other aircraft. I am simply fascinated that we have technology so advanced that we can design a system to target and counteract forces as random as turbulence. Overall there are many technological innovations in this plane that I believe have the potential to become much more popular in the future designs of commercial aircraft.
CNNGo Staff. “787 Dreamliner Takes Flight” CNN Travel. Web. October, 2011. <http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/life/whats-so-special-about-Boeing-dreamliner-766616>