Boeing's 787 Dreamliner Takes Off: Will It Succeed?

Why everything's riding on the success of Boeing's huge new plane

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Around 10:30 this morning, Boeing's massive 787 Dreamliner took to the skies for the first time after more than two years of delays. The results of the test flight loom large as the Seattle-born, Chicago-based company loses orders to its European rival Airbus. Boeing has trumpeted the 787's lighter, faster body and claims it will save airlines up to 20 percent in fuel costs. Will the new jet succeed? What's at stake for Boeing?

  • Too Much Riding on This for Boeing to Fail, writes Peter Cohan at Daily Finance: "Can Boeing really pull it off this time? In a word, yes. The test flight is supposed to last four or five hours, so there's no way for the company to bluff through it. And given the enormous embarrassment that Boeing has suffered from previous missed deadlines, I'm confident that the 787 will fly as long as the weather is acceptable on Tuesday."
  • Not Your Father's Flight Test, writes at The Seattle Times. He says the Dreamliner will be stress-tested "far beyond the limits" of other passenger jets: "The test pilots will take them up and do airframe-rattling dives. Moving at full tilt down a runway, they'll slam on the brakes. In the middle of takeoff, they'll deliberately cut an engine and keep going. Later, they'll fly for 5 ½ hours on one engine. They'll park overnight in 55-below-zero cold, then turn on the engines the next morning. And they're almost guaranteed that one of the jets will be hit by lightning."
  • Boeing Means Business, writes The Seattle Times editorial board: "We might call it the Pacific Northwest's biggest industrial gamble, except that 'gamble' is an unfair word. Gambling is the taking of risks for fun, and that's not the spirit of this airplane at all. Every bolt, panel, wire and chip in it has been proposed, reviewed, modeled, priced, contracted, tracked, assembled and inspected."
  • The Most Preordered Airplane in Commercial Aviation History, writes Daniel Terdiman at CNet: "The importance of Boeing's ability to complete these tests and get the 787 into the hands of its customers can't be overstated. Back in 2007, the company touted the fact that it had received 677 preorders from 47 carriers, making it the most preordered airplane in commercial aviation history. Surprisingly, Boeing said that the delays have not forced customers to back out and that today, there are more than 840 preorders."
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