The 787 - Beautiful! Revolutionary! Troubling?
This my friends is 'the Airbus killer'. A plane that shows that Boeing understands the needs of their market far better than their European competitor. "Why?" you may ask. Well read on...
Beautiful! - This plane is like the cover of an old sci-fi periodical announcing "The Future!". The sloped nose; flush windows; wings swept up and back like a majestic bird. We haven't seen a airliner this magnificent since the de Havilland Comet. And unlike the 747 and A380--both of which make you wonder how they even get off the ground--the Dreamliner actually looks like it belongs in the air.
Revolutionary! - This is the jet that literally dozens of airlines have been waiting for--medium capacity but able to fly the world's longest air routes. Through the use of carbon composites in the fuselage, this jet will use 20% less fuel and has revolutionary new Rolls-Royce engines that are more efficient and quieter. But most importantly, this jet incorporates a revolutionary stabilization system that should significantly reduce the effects of turbulence...
Troubling? - ...and therein is the problem. Though you may not be aware of it, every Airbus jet since the A300 and Boeing's 777 and 787 are "fly-by-wire" aircraft. In other words there is no physical connection between the pilot and the control surfaces. Computers do the work of translating pilot inputs into things like pitch and yaw. Now this isn't really something to worry about. Fly-by-wire is well-understood and well-tested technology, but...add stabilization to that mix--almost certainly handled by different computer programs designed to sense changes in and compensate for wind-speed, air pressure, etc...--and it seems you're adding a complex set of variables to an already complex calculation. And, though I'm sure that Boeing's engineers have a really good idea of what they're doing, I'm also a software engineer who has a pretty good idea of how difficult such calculations are to perform, especially when the pilot input and the stabilization directives conflict.
Turbulence sucks, and the older I get the more nervous it makes me, but I think that in this instance I'd be willing to just deal with it. Especially when I'm flying in something as pretty as the Dreamliner.
Someday I hope to take one of this bird's descendants into orbit, and I'm kinda doubting that would work as precisely as needed the old way.
I'd been reading recently 'bout Airbus-v-Boeing, but yours is the first blog post I've seen. Very nicely done it is, too.
I think I can live with that.
So... probably nothing will ever happen as a result of these new flight control programs, but perhaps a more interesting exercise is to consider how such a system is tested considering it's the first-to-be-deployed stabilization system.
Enigma... No doubt Boeing is doing oodles of testing. The issue really is not to test, but how to test.
Suzie-Q... That's very, very cool!
Bugger we can't even spell it so what are going to end up with?
Fortunately I've switched to the classic coaches maintained by Air New Zealand. Sure they rattle, but there is a certain substance to those old Rolls Royce V8 motors :)
Have you seen the pictures of first class on this plane? It's pretty astounding. Of course, I'll probably be in cattle class somewhere down in the cargo hold. :-)
Cartledge... About the plastic. This is going cause a big problem for American Airlines I think, since they don't actually paint their fuselages. That funky brown isn't going to look so good as their new livery.
What I'm more concerned about with Dreamliner, as well as new military aircraft designs, is the composite material itself. A Boeing engineer I spoke with last year said that when a composite aircraft crashes, the composite will turn to dust and scatter into the atmosphere where everyone will be able to inhale it.
I just argue the usual: war, abortion, Is Al Gore a hypocrite, and Is Obama Ready?
Not all at once though. Unless I am feeling saucy.
Anyway, I say we give a few to China. :0
Mr_Blog... EEK, that sounds bad. Also the notion of a plane disintegrating doesn't bode too well for the passengers. Though in a serious crash you're done for anyway.
Nvisiblewmn... Despite my nervousness while flying, I still love planes and airports, but only in a proper, platonic...you know...Republican fashion. :-)
Scott... Well under the guise of only using well-tested technology, I'd have to say... Windows 3.1, maybe NT, but I think that would be pushing it.
Yes, admittedly a small niche, but it's mine!
Froggie Dear.... That is an oxymoron there. Hear the one about the Bob Allen, Florida State Congressperson who just so HAPPENS to be a bigwig in the McCain Campaign offering a BJ to a cop for $20?
Piece of plastic shit in a crash would like give no hope for survival and burn like crazy.
Let the UAE, Saudi Arabia, yemen, and Oman test them out for us first...
Sewmouse... $20?! I always knew 'Thuglicans where cheap bastards.
UnconventionalC... Me too...just not over large bodies of water.
I remember when I first flew the 777, looked out the window at the engine, and thought, "Birds? Hell. That monster could swallow Dorothy's house."
Fashiongirl... I think so too.
well, for one, I don't fly, not since 9/11 so in that sense I have a choice.
Fortunately I don't "have" to fly as many do.
Maybe in 10 years from now long past all the post 9/11 bullshit 'get rid of yer carryon water, shampoo, and toothpaste' and 'take off yer shoes' I'll consider flying and by then the 787 should be well tested.
Or hopefully by then we'll have transporters...Beam me up Scotty!