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The Boeing 787 Dreamliner
There has been much debate about the newest line of aircraft from Boeing and some may dismiss this as an experimental approach to improve airplane performance. Colin Chapman, founder of sports car manufacturer Lotus once said that if you want to go faster then you would need to make the car lighter. While the words may not exactly match the original statement, it is clear that the pursuit of lightness will benefit both fuel efficiency and engine performance.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the first airplane in the history of aviation to be made from carbon laminate composite, or simply carbon fiber. The structure of the fuselage can be simply described as a fusion of composite tubes conjoined together to produce a lighter, sturdier body. Innovative advancements in aerodynamic design and engineering have enabled Boeing to come up with an aircraft that is a worthy alternative to the 747 Jumbo Jet and the new Airbus A380. But how much does a Boeing 787 cost when it comes to per mile computations? Keep in mind that fuel efficiency is determined by a variety of factors. The Airbus A380 may be larger and more massive than the 787 (and utilizes four jet engines compared to the 787 Dreamliners two) but it is capable of carrying more passengers over a single flight.
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Fuel Efficiency of the 787 Dreamliner
It would be unfair to compare the 787 Dreamliner with the Airbus A380 in terms of fuel efficiency as this would be comparable to comparing the fuel efficiency of a passenger bus to a full size van. But in layman's terms, the fuel efficiency could be computed as follows:
Fuel Efficiency = Fuel Capacity / (Max Range * Max Capacity)
The 787 Dreamliner has a fuel capacity of 33,528 U.S. gallons. Max range is 15,200 kilometers with a maximum capacity of 250 passengers. Based on the given information, the fuel efficiency is expressed as 0.00882 U.S. gallons per kilometer per passenger.
The Airbus A380, on the other hand, has a fuel cpacity of 81,890 U.S. gallons and a maximum range of 15,200 kilometers. Maximum capacity is rated at 853 passengers. This would give a result of 0.00632 U.S. gallons per kilometer per passenger.
Remember that while the A380 still yields a lower cost per mile compared to the 787, the above figures assume that the aircraft is flown within the maximum range while carrying the maximum amount of passengers possible.
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Lighter Airplanes will Reduce Flying Costs
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is still a dream come true and could perhaps be the start of a new generation of aircraft that caters to the preservation of the environment. The jet engines in particular (a pair of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines) utilize a bleedless system that negates the use of compressed air to drive other aircraft electrical systems. Generators that harness the power of the engines are use to power the electrical components, cabin pressurization and de-icing systems onboard the aircraft. This also results to more engine power and increased fuel efficiency as well.