The 787 Dreamliner has kept airline executives the world over awake at night, trying to figure out just when the high-tech, long-range, eco-friendly airliner would actually start hauling passengers. Delays have plagued the program almost from the get-go. Now, however, the “Seven-Eight” appears to be nearing final approach.
Boeing says the 787 has entered the Service Validation Readiness phase of the program. That means pilots for ANA are going to be flying the big Boeing on actual routes inside Japan. The idea here is to give aircraft crews, mechanics and such experience in a simulated operational environment. This is where the rubber begins to meet the runway.
During the validation ANA, the airplane’s worldwide “launch” customer, was due to simulate day-to-day airline operations (no passengers are being carried yet) at airports in Tokyo, Osaka, Okayama and Hiroshima. ANA is slated to kick off the craft’s first scheduled service with either Tokyo flights to Okayama or Tokyo flights to Hiroshima when deliveries of the airplane begin later this year, specifically in the August to September timeframe. ANA has 55 Dreamliners on order.
Why’s any of this matter to you? Because the fuel-efficient airplane is designed to operate on globe-girdling routes while sipping, not gulping fuel. That could well result in long-haul nonstop flights on international routes where aircraft now have to stop en route, or passengers change planes. It could be, as the hype has pronounced, a legitimate “game-changer” of a flying machine.
Story by Jerry Chandler