What makes the Boeing 787 Dreamliner different?

Aircraft model involved in Heathrow incident broke design boundaries

2EHR62A Stuttgart, Germany - February 11, 2021: British Airways Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner airplane at Stuttgart Airport (STR) in Germany.
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The plane whose nose collapsed on the runway of London's Heathrow Airport was a model that defied expectations with an innovative set of design features as Boeing tried to steal a competitive advantage over its transatlantic rival, the European manufacturer Airbus.

A series of tragedies and mishaps has kept the aircraft in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. A 787-8 Dreamliner on Friday collapsed at London’s Heathrow Airport in an as yet unexplained incident.

It is one of three types of the aircraft, the others being the 787-9 and 787-10 models, which differ in design and capacity.

British Airways bought a total of 30 787s when the model was introduced. Boeing management hopes the Dreamliner will become the workhorse of their range and take the place of the 767 twin-aisle in the hearts of passengers and the minds of airlines fleet managers.

What are the specifications of the 787-8?

Passenger capacity: 248 people

Range: 13,530 kilometres

Length: 57 metres

Wingspan: 60m

Height: 17m

Weight: 228 tonnes

Production: As of October 2019, about 29 per cent of 787 orders were for the 787-8, with 366 delivered

The aircraft is 20 per cent more fuel efficient than similar sized commercial jets and is the first of its kind to have a composite fuselage and composite wings.

What makes the plane special?

A British Airways 787 Dreamliner suffered from a nose gear collapse at Heathrow Airport. Photo: @MZulqarnainBut1/Twitter

For passengers the plane has some marketable features:

Electronic glass that is dimmable to five stages of colour and windows that are much bigger than any other plane.

Instead of taking air from outside via the engines, fresh air is drawn directly from outside the aircraft into the air conditioning system.

A much quieter cabin for passenger comfort.

Pilots have computerised head-height displays so they can view the monitors in front of them rather than looking down across the traditional flight deck control panel.

Have there been any other problems?

There were early problems with its lithium-ion batteries causing fires on board but there have been no fatalities.

What happened at Heathrow?

The nose of a BA Dreamliner 787 collapsed on the runway at Heathrow as the cargo aircraft was attached to a gantry walkway.

The plane was stationary at the time of the incident and was carrying freight – no passengers were on board.

The incident happened while the plane was being loaded for a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, having flown in from Moscow two days ago.