Reporting Jim Melwert
Filed underBusiness & Economy, Heard On, Local, News, Philadelphia, Syndicated Local, Tech, Traffic & Transportation, Watch + Listen
By Jim Melwert
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The plane that Boeing calls the “first all-new airplane of the 21st century” made a stop in Philadelphia this morning, giving many people who worked on its many new technologies a chance to check out the finished product.
The Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” is a dream for airlines: the company says it’s 20 percent more efficient than current similarly sized aircraft, due in large part to the lightweight composite materials that make up the fuselage.
One of the men behind the new plane is Pierre Minguet, an MIT graduate who works for Boeing here in Philadelphia.
“Early on when I worked at Boeing,” he recalls, “we looked at technology to make a large composite airliner. It was the early ’90s. And now it’s 20 years later, and it’s a reality now.”
Minguet says the composite construction also allows for more passenger comfort:
“It enables better pressure in the cabin, and more humidity.”
“When you’re in an aluminum airplane, that’s only five percent humidity in there, so when you arrive on the other side you’re dry, and you’re more tired and fatigued,” adds Boeing director of airplane programs Yvonne Leach. “Well, we can raise the humidity to 15 percent because the composites don’t corrode.”
That makes a difference, she says, on a long flight. And those flights can be long: the 787 will typically fly routes of 8-14 hours in duration.
The composites also allow for larger carry-on bins, and bigger windows. And instead of pull-down shades on those windows, they darken and lighten with the push of a button.