On the eve on the 787's first flight, the media was taken through the Dreamliner Gallery in Everett, Wash. where customers pick seats, themes, galleys, bars and any number of amenities or simply view the new jetliner's standard features such as single panel lavatory door.
"This is a catalog airplane," says Boeing creative director Jeffery Van Dyck. By that, he means Boeing's airline customers can one stop shop for everything right down to coffee makers and convection ovens. In the past, airlines were on their own after picking seats, according to Van Dyck. The only thing customers have to outsource now are some premium seats should they have their own design.
But before customers even get to the airplane mock-ups, they're situated in one of two lounges complete with a business offices and a conference room. There they can relax and contemplate what their airplane will look like. One of the rooms has a very Asian feel with lots of cork, bamboo and earth tones. That tells you where a lot of Boeing's business is coming from these - China and Japan.
Indeed, Boeing has model planes clustered together and emblazoned with customer names like China Southern and Shanghai Airlines.
"We want customers to see it from their perspective, not Boeing's perspective," says Van Dyck. To stress that the 787 reduces emissions by 20 per cent (or 20 per cent less "fuel burn" in Boeing parlance), Boeing tries to make the plane seem like a product of nature. Posters with leafy landscapes and seashore shells line the wall as if you were walking through a nature museum instead of a jetliner showroom. Symbols are heavily used as opposed to words. Very calming.
"It's brand language. We can talk boldly or subtly," says Van Dyck.
Boeing has four themes for designing the 787's interior: modern nature, modern technology, classic technology and classic nature. Hmmm, a jet one with nature is a challenges idea for a literal-ist like me.
But once beyond the themes, you're picking out seats or galley configurations based on full mock-ups using an "econfig" tool that allows you to electronically design your 787 on a large display. Put a galley there and you have to move some first class seats.
The center is to woo and wow customers. A very cool large display called OAG (Official Airlines Guide) Flight Tracker shows where all world's flights are on a world map. When we passed by it, the screen showed 12,376 flights and refreshed every five minutes. "It's fun to watch the swarm come out of Europe and head to Asia," says Van Dyck.
The most interesting innovations were the "Electrochromic" shadeless window which can be darkened from four settings on a button below the window. What's more, the 787's windows are a third bigger than ones we know in today's jetliners. Boeing claims the flight deck's windows are the largest in any jetliner and for the first time allow the pilots to actually see the engines.
The soft ceiling and wall lighting warms the cabin with reds and blues that change automatically (although the media type I was standing next to whispered "Airbus had that 10 years ago."). The 787's crew quarters used in longer flights have been moved above the main deck so as not to take up precious space either in the cargo hold or where seats can be located (flight attendants often had to crash below deck in a cargo container).
Any number of seat types can be ordered and of course Boeing emphasized the first class units that allow you go horizontal few of us can afford and will ever occupy. The interior reminds me of a new car that looks great when you buy it, but quickly loses its luster after a few hundred trips. Indeed, I could not help think about the tired coach class interior in a United Boeing 757 on my trip from Denver to Seattle today.
Yes and there's that cool single panel lavatory door that replace the clumsy bi-fold doors in today's jetliners. Now that's innovation.
Complete coverage of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner on SmartPlanet:
- Boeing 787 basics
- Boeing 787 noses up in last minute pre-flight tests
- A 787 Dreamliner primer in advance of first flight Tuesday
- Boeing marks Dec. 15 for first 787 flight, sunny day wanted
- Waiting for Boeing to announce timing of 787's maiden voyage
- No verdict yet on completed tests to 787 wing repairs
- A great shot of the 787 Dreamliner
- Boeing fixes two more 787s, repeats first flight will be in '09
- Boeing 787 repaired wings encounter new composite problem
- Is Boeing opting to expand in S.C. really a good idea?
- New 747-8 Freighter soon to take off
- Top 787 exec Scott Carson to retire
- Boeing 787, the book and the movie: I can't wait
- Boeing eats first three 787s, stretches flight test schedule
- Boeing 787 maiden flight reset for Q4
- Is 787 Dreamliner novel manufacturing strategy on the rocks?
- Boeing's Candor on 787 Delay
- Boeing 787 Delay Call Live
- Boeing 787 First Flight Delayed Again
- Boeing 787 "Gauntlet" videos worth a look
- Boeing 787 Dreamliner mitigates turbulence
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