It is a pretty well known fact that I am sort of an aviation aficionado. If by “aficionado” we mean someone who spends hours reading about aviation, planning trips around aviation, simulating aviation, boring his friends with aviation.
Well yesterday was a pretty big day. It was the first flight of Boeing’s newest airliner, the 787. If you pay any attention to the news you know that the whole project has been somewhat of a boondoggle. The first flight was supposed to be two years ago, and then finally it was supposed to be in June of this year, but several weeks before the flight they discovered a problem with some parts made by a subcontractor that were involved with holding the wings on, so that’s an issue. It had gotten to the point where the snarkier of the online commentators started questioning if the plane would ever fly.
The main issue that has caused these delays is the use of composites (plastics) instead of metal for the main structural bits of the plane, like the fuselage. In the end, Boeing say, this will make the plane lighter which will allow it to fly using less fuel. It also allows other things like a non-circular fuselage. But this is very new technology for this application, and so obviously there have been delays, but way more than we in the aviation fan kingdom would have liked.
Well yesterday we finally got to see the first flight, and it was pretty amazing. Boeing did a live webcast so I was able to watch the first flight, and I definitely got a tad bit emotional. So if you go to the following link, you can watch a video that Boeing has put together of the flight. Although you probably won’t think it is nearly as cool as I did.