Boeing 787 Dreamliner: Better Than The Competition?

Boeing 787-8 maiden flight overhead view (c) Dave Sizer, CC BY-SA 3.0

The 787 Dreamliner is touted by media to be one of the best planes on the planet right now. Many travelers find it to be one of the most comfortable planes to ride in. Airlines seem to love buying them (Boeing has delivered more that 750 Dreamliners since 2011). Personally, I think the Dreamliner is a terrific plane. What makes the 787 such a popular aircraft? Here’s a list of my top 5 reasons to fly the Dreamliner.

1. Fuel Efficiency

Flight deck of the Boeing 787-8 (c) Alex Beltyukov, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is undeniably the most fuel efficient aircraft in it’s class on the market today. When it is compared to other long-haul wide body aircraft, the 787 is 20% more fuel efficient. This means that airlines can fly longer routes for cheaper, meaning there can be more point-to-point routes. For you and me, this means that if you are traveling you will be more likely to be able to find a non stop flight. This fuel efficiency is made possible, in large part, by it’s advanced construction. By volume, 80% of the 787 is made up of light-weight composite material. This composite construction has made a lot of the other features of this plane possible

2. Better Air

Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (c) Nabil Molinari, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Another advantage of the high-strength composites is that the 787 has a more pleasant interior atmosphere. Because the composites are less prone to corrosion and structural fatigue, the cabin can be kept at a higher pressure and humidity than most planes. This means the 787 can be pressured to the equivalent of 6,000 feet instead of the usual 8,000. This leads to a more comfortable flight for passengers; it helps reduce jet lag, headaches, dry eyes, and fatigue. The 787 also has advanced air filtration, built with the same technology used to purify air in hospital operating rooms. The 787’s HEPA filters are able to remove viruses, bacteria, and fungi from the cabin’s air.

3. Quieter

Closeup of 787 Engine Chevrons (c) Julian Herzog, CC BY 4.0

The 787 is built with a number of special features that help to make it one of the quietest aircraft of it’s size in flight today. The aircraft is equipped with a number of technologies to limit noise both inside and outside the fuselage. The engines are equipped with sound-dampening materials and a chevron-toothed exhaust dust cover. This has helped to “nearly eliminate the fan tone noise heard by those onboard and those on the ground,” according to Goodrich Aerostructures. For those living near airports, these noise-reducing measures prevent sounds above 85 decibels from leaving most airport boundaries. As well, passengers are treated to a quieter ride with technology like quieter air conditioning and vibration isolation.

4. More Interior Space

Boeing 787 Dreamliner First Class Cabin (c) John P, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Randy Neville, Boeing’s chief pilot, said that “[passengers are] not being squeezed into a tube…[they’ll] have a wide open area.” The 787 cabin has a spacious, vaulted ceiling (with super cool and super 70’s mood lighting) . plus, the large interior space also has the added benefit of more room for carry-on luggage — each overhead bin can fit four (4!) full-sized wheeled suitcases for carry-on luggage.

5. Bigger Windows

787-8 windows displaying the electrical dimming system (c) Spaceaero2, CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re anything like me, you think the best part of flying is gazing out the window, looking at the landscape below. This is a super cool perspective that you can only get from an airplane, and that’s why I’ve saved my favorite 787 feature for last — it’s super-sized windows. The 787 has the largest windows of any aircraft in the world. In the 787, you can also say goodbye to plastic window shades — the Dreamliner employs electronically-dimmable windows that use the same technology to the “smart” windows at Science World.

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