So you want to fly the best and latest model aircraft? Then you might be interested in a brief analysis of two of the latest and greatest now on the drawing board -- Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380.
The designers of these aircraft are now able to exploit a raft of new technologies. These are also now promising to be a tipping point in the sophistication of airline cabins, as well as design and power systems.
Besides being more fuel efficient -- and in some cases larger -- this crop of new technologies will yield new levels of comfort, especially in Boeing's 787. Prior to the 787, engineers had always dominated airplane design at Boeing -- as it should be; however, there was seldom any direct feedback from the 'customer,' the flying public. It appears that management is now listening to their end-user customers.
Here some comparisons: Airbus's A380 has more than twice as many SEATS as Boeing's 787, upwards on 500 on two decks or as many as 853 in an all-coach configuration. WINDOWS on the 787 are 35% larger than Boeing's 777. And no more manual shades: Light levels can be adjusted using electo-chromatic technology. ADAPTIVE CABIN LIGHTING can be changed to simulate daylight or night sky. BETTER CLIMATE for easier breathing in the 787. Greater humidity and a new purification system for moister, cleaner air. Plus the amount of fresh air is determined by the number of passengers, not the number of seats. At cruising altitude in the 787, CABIN PRESSURE will be set at 6,000 feet above sea level, which is 2,000 lower than the current standard.
In the Boeing 787, AISLES in coach are 2.5 inches wider (21.6 inches), CABIN is 14.5 inches wider at eye level, to maximize perceived volume, and SEATS are at least one inch wider (18.5 inches). Passengers don't feel hemmed in by sharply curving walls and low ceilings because of the 787's architecture. The cross section of the fuselage is neither circular (standard on most aircraft) nor oval (as the 747 or Airbus A380), but a circle whose upper lobe has been elongated, making for less curvature and greater headroom. Advances in power generation to allow these improvements will provide the 787 with four times more electricity than has been possible before.
How soon will these aircraft be ready for you to fly? The A380 is already being flight-tested and will be introduced this fall by Singapore Airlines. The 787 won't be arriving at the gate until 2008. There are mock-ups of both aircraft at Boeing in Seattle and Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France now.