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Boeing unveils a bigger Dreamliner

Posting in Design

The latest version of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, the 787-9, successfully completed its maiden flight this week. And while the 787-8, which began commercial flights in 2011, has given the company plenty of headaches, there is hope that, with the version of the aircraft, Dreamliner won't be synonymous with delays.

Compared with the 787-8, the latest jet is 20 feet longer and can carry 40 more passengers an additional 345 miles. And like the 787-8, Boeing says the plane cuts fuel use and emissions by 20 percent compared to other planes of a similar size.

But the biggest difference could be where Boeing sources its parts for the new jet, Wall Street Journal points out:

Boeing also adopted a new approach to making the [787-8], outsourcing much of the design and manufacturing to suppliers in an effort to slash its share of the investment cost. Boeing engineers designed only 40% of the parts for the original Dreamliner, Mr. Fancher said.

The approach brought problems. Boeing's suppliers, in turn, outsourced to subcontractors, which caused design changes to pile up and feuds between Boeing and its suppliers.

Now Boeing is reversing course with the 787-9, designing 60-70 percent of the plane internally. According to WSJ, the company is also manufacturing more of the original Dreamliner and the new 787-9 in-house to boost its production rate.

The first 787-9 isn't expected to deliver the plane until the middle of next year, but it is already a popular model with airlines, accounting for about 40 percent of the 900-plus Dreamliner orders.

Read more: Wall Street Journal, Boeing

Photo: Boeing

— By on September 18, 2013, 1:35 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure