Thinking Tech

Dreamliner interior debuts, Boeing sets Monday for 747-8 first flight

Posting in Technology

Boeing has outfitted a 787 Dreamliner with a real interior, but seat configuration will be key. The maiden voyage of the 747-8 is slated for Monday.

Finally, we are seeing what a real 787 in-service cabin might look as the result of Boeing putting a 135-seat section inside ZA003, the third Dreamliner to be built.

From the single photo provided by Boeing yesterday, the feature I noticed first was the electronically dimmable windows reaching up higher than the seat backs. The 787 will have windows 2-3 times bigger than the skimpy portholes found in the existing generations of passengers jets. My hope that will reduce the claustrophobic affect of flying today in largely shuttered metal tubes.

The third Dreamliner to be built gets a real interior. credit: Boeing Commercial Airplanes

You can also see the soft lighting which changes into different colors. The larger stowage bins seem like they might be hard to reach for the height-challenged, but that's nothing new. Headroom looks ample.

The economy seating looks like the nine abreast version (3-3-3) with two 18-inch aisles and 17-inch wide seats (ouch!). There's also an eight abreast (2-4-2) version with 21.5 inch aisles and 18.5 inch wide seats. I wish Boeing would stop promising such much more comfortable flights in the 787 until we better know the seat configurations its airline customers select. I suspect it'll be jam-packed with economy seats like airliners today.

JetBlue in its Airbus A320s has 17.8 inches of seat (leather, too!) width and a generous 34-38 inches of legroom.

ZA003's interior also contains lavatories and crew rests. Boeing said it hopes to get ZA003 into the air later this month. It is one of six airplanes that will be used for flight testing and FAA certification throughout 2010. Certifying the interior components involves analyses and testing of the lighting, lavatories, stowage bins, dimmable windows and galleys.

“This airplane is specifically configured to test the passenger experience elements of the airplane,” said Tom Galantowicz, director of 787 Interiors, Commercial Airplanes. “Our engineers and flight-test team use a disciplined process to certify the various elements of the interior and conduct airplane-level verifications,” says a Boeing press release.

What's to test and certify in a seat, you might ask. Well, the analyses and testing involves the "lighting, lavatories, stowage bins, dimmable windows and galleys."

747-8 at Paine Field, Everett, Wash. credit: John Dodge

The 787 Dreamliner is Boeing's newest wide body jetliner. It has wracked up more than 840 orders despite more than two years of technical and manufacturing delays. Your best best for flying on one soon is to buy a ticket on Air Nippon Airways which will take the first deliveries of the 787 in the fourth quarter of this year should ongoing flight testing go according to plan.

In a related announcement, Boeing has scheduled 10 a.m. PT Monday, Feb. 8 for the maiden voyage for 747-8 Freighter, the 15th version of the venerable jumbojet that goes back to 1969. The flight, whose eventuality depends successful taxi tests between now and Monday, will be webcast live.

The 747-8 Freighter will carry up to 154 tons or 16 per cent more than the 747-400 Freighter. It features redesigned wings and new General Electric GEnx 2B engines.

Cargolux is slated to be the first customer and is planning to take deliveries of the first units in the second half of this year. It claims it has a firm order for 13 747-8 Freighters with options for 10 more.

Follow me on Twitter.

Share this

John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure