Boeing is making history with its brand new final assembly plant to open this summer in North Charleston. The aerospace giant is also entering new territory with a super-efficient innovative airplane.
The sonic cruiser would fly you close to the speed of sound, but skyrocketing fuel prices prompted Boeing to shelve the gas eater and the 787 Dreamliner was born.
Boeing's 787 Dreamliner travels at speeds similar to today's fastest wide bodies. But innovative technology puts the plane in a league of its own. For starters, it's not metal. Half the airplane is composite.
The composite material allows Boeing to make a very large section of the airplane in a single piece. The fuselage comes together in six big pieces eliminating seams and rivets which is about 50,000 fewer rivets in a typical barrel section.
At the 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in Everett, Wash., the Dreamliners move through four stages. Boeing's second assembly plant will have this same assembly process when it opens this July in North Charleston.
The new approach includes workers focusing on one task on the Dreamliner, instead of many duties found on other assembly lines.
Composite has other advantages. It's light which translates into big fuel savings 20 percent less fuel than today's similarly sized airplanes. And the Dreamliner can fly the distance of a big plane.
It's a benefit to passengers who could fly city to city, instead of taking a big plane to a hub and a small commuter to your destination. It's advantageous to smaller airlines, challenged to fill seats on a big plane. Boeing execs say the Dreamliner has appeal.
To give you an idea of what a game-changer the Dreamliner could be, Boeing estimates this plane will connect 450 pairs of new cities because of its long-range capability.