EVERETT, Wash.--On July 8, 2007, Boeing formally unveiled its 787 Dreamliner, promising to get passengers on the plane less than a year later. Of course, as has been well chronicled since then, the 787 has been beset by delays and is more than three years behind schedule.
Still, the plane has long since taken its first flight, and Boeing now says it plans the first customer delivery sometime in the third quarter of this year. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but it's clear that the program is in its final stages before the Dreamliner becomes something that the flying public can experience first hand.
In the meantime, Boeing is continuing to build Dreamliners at its mammoth assembly plant here. Currently under construction at the plant are Dreamliner Nos. 31 through 34. And though there are currently seven test 787s, the ones being built today are being warehoused after being put together until the plane is certified for passenger flight. At that point, Boeing will finish the interiors of the planes and add their engines.
A look out at the 787 Dreamliner assembly line. Boeing says it can produce about two Dreamliners per month right now, though by late 2013, when its new South Carolina plant is open, it should be able to make ten of the planes each month.
One of the most striking features of the 787 Dreamliner is its wing. Made from composite materials, the wings are longer and have a higher aspect ratio than those on other airplanes. That means that they provide more lift with less drag. The wings are lighter and stiffer than those on other planes.
This is a look at the left wing of a Dreamliner under assembly. Because the plane has not yet been certified for passenger flight, the planes coming off the line now do not have their engines added. Those will be added after the plane is certified.
This is a look at the section of the body of a 787 Dreamliner where the wings are joined to the fuselage. Because Dreamliners are made of composite materials, they are not made in the traditional way, using many body panels. Instead, they are made from complete barrel sections.
While the Dreamliners coming off the line are not being painted with customers' livery, the rudder section of the tails are painted. That's because the weight of the paint must be taken into consideration when balancing the rudder.
This Dreamliner is at what is called position 1. This is where the plane, having come into the Everett factory and rested for 24 hours to normalize the temperature of all the parts, is placed inside equipment that allows the factory to structurally join all the major body pieces.