How the 787 will change the way we fly

July 14th, 2011 by Mariah

(CNN) – Japan’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrived with much fanfare. Greeted by reporters, fans and All Nippon Airways staff carrying a “Welcome to Japan” banner, the plane touched down at Haneda airport Sunday morning. Applause broke out as the pilots stepped off the plane, emblazoned with the ANA’s blue and white logo.

Too bad it was three years late to the party.

Boeing originally planned to deliver the world’s first Dreamliner to ANA in May 2008, before a series of technical problems led to repeated delays.

The plane which landed on Sunday isn’t in Japan to stay. Rather it is on a week-long test run. The first permanent delivery of a plane is expected to be in August or September, with the first passenger flight coming a month later, according to ANA.

 

That will be the true test of Boeing’s long-anticipated aircraft and the first chance to see how the high-tech plane will actually change the passenger experience.

The biggest impact from the Boeing 787 should come from its range. The first mid-size, long range airplane, it will allow airlines to open up routes where they don’t have the passengers numbers to justify a larger plane like a Boeing 747 or an Airbus A380.

“An A380 is only viable with 400-500 people,” says Myles Goeller of aviation consulting group Seabury. “The Dreamliner is fantastic in that it offers very good seat economics in very small aircraft.”

Goeller says in theory that means airlines will be able to provide more flexibility, either by bypassing hubs to offer more direct flights, or adding flights to provide more schedule options. ANA has said the first route will be Haneda-Okayama or Haneda-Hiroshima, though it plans to deploy the plane “across its route network.”

Changes are in store for passenger comfort. Boeing says passengers will feel more refreshed thanks to the higher humidity and higher cabin pressure on-board the aircraft, helping reduce common frequent flier complaints like dry eyes and headaches. There is no way to verify those claims until the first round of travelers come off long-haul flights.

The plane also has bigger windows that can be automatically tinted and bigger overhead compartments. ANA is even installing a bidet-equipped toilet, ever popular in Japan. For a glimpse at ANA’s recently unveiled plans for the interiors, check out their 787 website.