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Dreamliner visits Farnborough

Uğur CEBECİ

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Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner, currently being tested, has entered the European airspace at the Farnborough Airshow held near London. The plane opened its doors for the first time to journalists, and its silence attracted all the attention.

The 787 Dreamliner, which has a composite body, was definitely the star of Farnborough. Its landing was watched by around 5,000 people. The test plane number three, which took off from the Boeing headquarters in Seattle, reached Farnborough after a nine-hour flight. It landed silently and took its place at the show.

As the jet is still in the testing stage, it received its guests with a down-to-earth outlook, with only economy class seats situated and full of cables. The “experimental” tag rested on the door of the plane.

In its front cabin, the jet sports 30 economy seats, covered in blue. With LED lighting and deep cabinets, it offers a spacious cabin.

The windows are larger compared with those in regular passenger jets. But the cabin model does not show itself off as was the case in the mock-up. Boeing engineers have taken out manual curtains. Just as in business jets, the windows can be tinted with the push of a button. Kilometers of cables are linked to the test unit at the middle cabin. Huge consoles are recording every piece of data coming from every part of the plane and evaluating them. Four test engineers follow this data. Unlike other prototypes, the cabin did not have water tanks used to check weight shifts.

The back cabin is again reserved for economy class ticket-holders, with 20 seats. Moving up through a staircase, we see 12 beds, which will be used for resting purposes by the cabin crew. The standard toilet has good lighting.

The cockpit design, a development from the Boeing 777, allows pilots to follow all data from the screens. The head-up display gives pilots landing safety under conditions of zero visibility. For pilots to rest in long flights, there is another resting room that can be reached by staircase. The room has two beds and an armchair.

The 787 stayed for two days at the air show and then flew to Seattle, again silently. In memory of the 1940’s Battle of Britain between the U.K. and Germany, it “posed” with two Spitfire planes, also taking off with them. The jet flew low over Rolls-Royce’s Derby factory, which produced the engines, and then headed to Seattle.

The aviation sector, which hit rock bottom in the past two years, has taken a deep breath thanks to orders at Farnborough. Leasing companies ordered 723 planes worth $115 billion, orders that were seen as a sign that the sector will return to its days of glory.

The air show was attended by 1,360 companies from 40 countries, but the emphasis was on military aviation. A total of 165 planes, helicopters and drones were put on display.

The highest number of orders was received by Embraer of Brazil, as the E170/190 family had 256 orders.

European manufacturer Airbus brought its A380 and A400M, as well as the A330 cargo jet owned by Etihad.

The attendance from business jets was unbelievably low, as only 20 jets were put on display. Business jet manufacturers nowadays prefer the EBACE fair in Geneva and Airex in Istanbul, as both fairs specialize on the segment of the industry.

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