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Old 04-07-2012, 12:39 PM   #1
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Dreamlifter

Took this shot during our shoot in Charleston last week. The Dreamlifters are used to fly the 787 Dreamliner's fuselage sections and wings from their manufacturers in Japan, Charleston, Italy, and Wichita to the assembly lines in Charleston and Everett. There are currently four of them in the fleet and they are kept busy 24/7.
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:15 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr. Marin. I had occasion to see the Airbus Beluga from about 300m. and watched it take off. I'm surprised the thing ever got off the ground. How does your unit compare in size (larger/smaller)?
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:41 PM   #3
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RT--- The Dreamlifter is larger. The Airbus Beluga uses an A330 for the "base" airplane. The Dreamlifter obviously uses a 747. The Beluga is sized to carry fusealages for the A320, A330 and the now-discontinued A340, which is the same diameter as the A330. The 787 is larger in diameter than the A330/340 plus the Dreamifter also carrys the completely assembled wings from Japan. The plane can carry one airplane-set of wings, which occupy the full height of the cargo compartment.

The only part of the Dreamlifter that is pressurized is the front of the plane. The cargo hold is not pressurized.

Weight is not the issue with these planes, it's volume. The load the Dreamlifter carries is actually pretty light, relatively speaking. We've flown a 747-400 Freighter at a gross weight of 1 million pounds although typical weights are more in the 800,000 pound range. The Dreamlifter loads don't even come close to these.
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Old 04-07-2012, 08:19 PM   #4
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I frequently see one at Miami International. I think it belongs to a cargo company. Did Boeing sell one?
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Old 04-08-2012, 01:29 AM   #5
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There are currently four Dreamlifters in existence and they all belong to Boeing. They are operated for us by Atlas Air, the largest provider of contract cargo lift in the world. Perhaps what you saw is the small writing on the side of the plane below the forward edge of the "hump" that says "Operated by Atlas Air Inc." Wikipedia has a pretty good writeup about the Dreamlifter program at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_...Freighter[

I suspect they sometimes call at Miami because Atlas has a main base there. So they may stop there for crew changes, routine maintenance, etc. The cities served by the Dreamlifters are Nagoya, Japan (fuselage sections and wings) Grottaglie, Italy (fuselage sections and empennage surfaces) Wichita, Kansas (fuselage nose section) Charleston, South Carolina (fuselage sections), and Everett, Washington.

South Carolina not only winds the two aft fuselage sections but they join all the fuselage sections (except the nose) together into two main sections and stuff them (floors, doors, all the insulation, wiring, ducting, etc). These main sections are then flown to Everett for final assembly or are wheeled across the road into Charleston's new assembly building. The first 787 to be completely assembled in Charleston will be rolled out of the factory at the end of this month.

Charleston is the only plant that does it all--- makes 787 fuselage sections from scratch all the way up through assembling and delivering complete airplanes. "From freezer to flight" is the term I learned last week down there. The only significant 787 components made in Everett are interiors (Charleston recently opened their own new interior shop). So Everett is an assembly plant only for the 787.

The same is true for the 747-8, 767, and 777. The only major components for these planes manufactured from scratch in Washington State are the wings and some empennage surfaces. The fuselage components for all three models are made elsewhere, primarily Japan. They come to Everett by ship and rail as does the entire, assembled fuselage for the 737 which comes to Renton from Wichita courtesy of the BNSF railroad. The 787 is the first Boeing program to employ air transportation of the main airframe components.

Interesting factoid-- all 787 fuselage sections and wings are painted white as soon as they are made. This is because if the raw composite surface is exposed to UV light it almost immediately develops a surface oxide that paint will not stick to. It's a big job to clean this oxide off prior to painting the plane for the customer, so when the program was new all exterior body and airframe moves were made at night and the fuselage sections were wrapped in black plastic for transport to the assembly plants.

This quickly proved to be an expensive logistics nightmare so someone came up with the notion of painting the components white as soon as they are manufactured. So the planes on the lines look like the photo below of an Air India 787 in Charleston (the rudders are painted in the customer livery prior to final assembly because they have to be balanced before they are installed).
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:39 AM   #6
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You're right it is Atlas Air that I saw on the airplane. I wondered why it didn't have their usual livery but just the small "Operated by Atlas Air". I look forward to traveling in the 787 some day. Like a lot of the pilots I know say "If it ain't Boeing, I ain't going".
Actually I will travel in Air Bus equipment but I always feel better in Boeing.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:20 PM   #7
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I fly in Airbus airplanes all the time. Many of the places we go around the world, that's the equipment in use. The only Airbus model I have yet to fly on is the A380 but I have co-workers who've flown them and they say they are very nice. So from the passenger perspective, Airbus and Boeing is six of one, half dozen of the other.

However the Dreamliner does have some significant passenger experience differences to all the other planes currently in service.

The windows are 30 percent larger, something made possible by the composite fuselage construction. This benefits more than just the view. They are tall enough so that people on one side of the plane can still "see out" the windows on the other side, which gives the cabin a lighter, more spacious feel.

The ceiling and bin contours are higher and curve away from people rather than intrude in on them. This, too, gives the cabin a more spacious feel even if you are jammed together in coach.

The real biggies are ones you can't see. Most commercial jetliners are pressurized to 8,000 feet. In other words, being inside the plane is the equivalent of being on top of an 8,000 foot mountain with the associated "thinner" air. Because of its construction, the 787 is pressurized two thousand feet lower, to 6,000 feet. Reports we are getting from ANA, the first operator of the 787, are that passengers are complaining much less about headaches, nausea, and drowsiness.

Along with this, the cabin air in the 787 has a higher humidity than other aircraft currently in service. This is due in part to the elimination of the use of engine bleed air to pressurize the cabin. The plane's heating, cooling, and pressurization systems are electrically operated, which makes it easy to increase the humidity. ANA is also reporting fewer complaints about "drying out" from passengers.

Another feature of the 787 is "ride control." Composite wings are more flexible than metal wings, so the 787's wings flex more in flight which softens the bumps and jolts from turbulent air. But the plane also has an active ride control system which uses sensors and the plane's flight control system to react faster than a pilot or autopilot can to sudden movements of the plane. A good friend of mine is the chief production pilot for the 787 program, and he's told me that if he's flying in rough air and turns the ride control on, the difference it makes is amazing, even to him. He flies all our current airplanes--- 37, 47-8, 67, and 77-- and in his opinion the ride of the 787 in turbulence is greatly superior to everything else.

I can't believe that Airbus' new A350 will not incorporate similar features, so I would expect the passenger experience on that plane to be the equal of the 787. I believe the 787 is the superior airplane, based largely on the way we fabricate it as opposed to the way Airbus is fabricating their A350. So there will be big differences between the planes from the perspective of the airlines and their operating and maintenance departments. But I suspect passengers will have the same greatly improved experience on both of them.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:17 AM   #8
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"So from the passenger perspective, Airbus and Boeing is six of one, half dozen of the other."

To me the most important "passenger" experience is the Crash History.

When ever I can I NEVER get aboard an Air Bust if it can be avoided.

70 is the new 35 , so I have lots of living yet to do.

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Old 04-09-2012, 05:42 PM   #9
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If your concerned about crash history you won't get either a Boeing or Airbus. Since most crashes are due to pilot error or pilot misjudgement, the brand name on the plane is almost always irrelevant. And there have been crashes of Boeing planes that had they been Airbuses they probably would not have crashed and there have been crashes of Airbus airplanes that had they been Boeings they probably would not have crashed. So even the crash history is six of one, half dozen of the other.
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Old 04-11-2012, 06:46 AM   #10
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"So even the crash history is six of one, half dozen of the other."

A passenger has no control over who a company hires as a switch flicker
(they gave up training "pilots" to actually FLY decades ago).

Regardless of the driver training a Soviet or Russian built aircraft is 300%+ more likely to crash , and a flight on one should be avoided at all costs.

Sadly even choosing a flight with a larger air line from a 1st world country does not assure the "pilots" have been trained ..

Air France was a crash that would not have happened had the switch flickers actually been pilots (folks that can fly and understand flight).

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