I was fortunate enough to find myself in an exit row seat on a brand spankin’ new Boeing 787-8 Dreamlineri yesterday, flying from Toronto to Zurich. Here are a few shots and thoughts from my virginal 787 experience :
This was the progress report from the flip-up entertainment unit : 41,000 ft of altitude and almost 1,000 kph ! (No, I was flying on an Boeing 878, that doesn’t exist, it was just the flight code, you silly goose.)
As far as the entertainment system went, the UX was slick, stable, and responsive. The Linux-based OS was more than up to the task of flipping between menus and media, unlike the Windows-based crash-a-minute shit seen on Air Canada domestic flights.ii As far as The Philadelphia Storyiii went, for someone who remembers the whole “freedom fries” nonsense all too well, it was astonishing to discover that Americans ever held French language, arts, and culture in high regard. Even if these upper crust scenes were slightly tongue-in-cheek, can you imagine a contemporary American-born actress speaking la langue d’amour as gracefully as Hepburn does ?iv Plus, the scene where Hepburn’s family hosts the invading reporters was an exemplary object lesson in improvisation. Seriously, this is “never break character” at its finest, a skill you’d do well to teach your children. It was something else.
Through the electronically tinting windows !
And the view of economy class, where I was sitting. Of note, there were only two economy sections like the one you see above, compared to the three such sections typical of intercontinental planes. The 787, she’s got legs.v And that’s not just because she was 3/4 full and I had two seats to myself and no seats in front of me. Ah, the life !
On its weight-saving and fuel-mising mission, Boeing didn’t neglect to take a bit of extra padding from the economy class seats. Not that this effected their comfort in the slightest. Well done !
Other fuel-saving tech included the incredibly quietvi and efficient, 111″ diameter, composite blade General Electric GEnx-1B engines, each with 310 kN of thrust, and the steeply sloped wings with wingtips that were flared horizontally as opposed to the usual vertical tipping.
Should all that thrust go awry, there’s always this user-friendly emergency exit, complete with a handle large enough for two people to torque.
And one final curiousity : outside the bathroom was this wall-mounted flip-out ashtray, perfectly sized for a cigarette but far too small for a cigar. Of course, smoking is prohibited, as it is on every other flight I’ve ever been on, having only flown since the late 1980’s. Not that I miss the days when one half of the pressurised cabin was designated “smoking” even though it shared an unobstructed airspace with the “non-smoking” section.
Alas, with the cleanest and quietest intercontinental flight experience of the two dozen or so I’ve been on, I wouldn’t change a thing with the new Boeing 787.
It was pretty fuckin’ sweet.
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- Designed to replace the 767 while reducing fuel consumption 20%, the 787 is unique not only for its “environmental conscientiousness,” as if oil prices were high !, but also because an exceptionally large percentage of the plane’s component manufacturing was outsourced, which naturally led to project complications and delays, and equally naturally leads to some uncertainty as to long-term reliability (to say nothing of digital security !).
Boeing is currently manufacturing the 787 at a rate of 10 per month, each costing between $220 mn and $300 mn for customers and $30 mn more than that to produce. It’s not surprising then that the total loss of the 787 program thus far exceeds $27 bn. With a “b.” Yes, Boeing is bleeding badly. Very badly. Like most every USG TBTF manufacturer, really, be it General Motors or McDonald’s. Sucks to be American these days. [↩]
- Air Canada uses Embraer 190s and Airbus 320-200s for the vast majority of its domestic flights. [↩]
- 1940, directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and James Stewart. [↩]
- What happened to you, America ?! You used to be something !!!1 [↩]
- The 787 has a nautical range some 50% longer than the 767 is replaces. [↩]
- I’ve never experienced an airplane cabin that was this quiet. Not that I still don’t long for a seat in the ear-splitting Tu-144. [↩]