Improving Aircraft Carbon Footprints – Boeing 787 Dreamliner

boeing1Maybe I shouldn’t say improving carbon footprints, but carbon flyprints. Despite exciting advances in solar technology including the manned Solar Impulse plane that can fly day and night now, passenger solar flight seems a ways off. But also exciting are more immediate improvements to commercial airplanes with their huge environmental impact. One example is Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner aircraft. This was actually designed with the goal of reducing its carbon emissions.

By “using new technologies, such as using lightweight carbon-fiber for the fuselage and wings, instead of aluminum sheeting, Boeing was able to reduce the airplane’s weight. It also increased the fuel efficiency of its new engines, yielding an overall reduction of fuel consumption of almost 30%. Because of the new materials, the humidity in the cabin can be much higher than before, which will provide for better passenger comfort.” Maybe gone will be the days of such dryness and headaches from low humidity in those flying tin cans.

boeinginterior1According to designers of the plane, they also wanted to invigorate the world of flying, bring back some of the romance that the idea of flying used to conjure up. From the looks of the interior it does seem like they’ve succeeded. This one looks more like a flying room than a flying tube. Definitely more sci-fi chic than previous generations of aircraft design.

boeing2Windows are apparently 50% bigger than what we’re used to, and they’re designed so that from wherever you are in the plane, you should be able to see outside, again much less like a tin can. While I’m sure some of it is marketing and PR, they do seem to be addressing passenger concerns. Among the many other details of the plane and its development in the video below, we learn that designers of the plane actually flew around the world five times in coach, good ol’ ‘regular people’ economy class – going for empathy and understanding of what travel is really like for the intended users of their newly designed plane.

boeing3And I’m excited to think that this is but the start of at least improving air travel’s carbon footprint. Sometimes it just takes one person or company to take that first step for others to follow and run with their own ideas. But sometimes ideas come about simultaneously rather than sequentially. That thought occurred to me as I was reading about this aircraft. It turns out Boeing’s not the only company experimenting with new airplane designs that actually do seem new and improved.

I don’t want to sound like some sort of commercial for air travel, but I like good news stories, and that’s what these planes feel like – both the Boeing plane here, and one of the future I want to blog about tomorrow. The Boeing one at least looks more like the planes we’ve come to know. I can’t believe the cool factor of the other one. But since I learned of them in this order, I thought I should write about them in that order too. Enjoy the view!

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