Why the 787 will make a better flying experience
Question: How can aircraft manufacturers help carriers to create a better flying experience for their passengers?
Expert: R. Blake Emery, director of differentiation strategy, Boeing
THE FOCUS ON CREATING A MAGICAL EXPERIENCE FOR AIRLINE PASSENGERS
How many people around the world are fascinated with the magic of human flight? And instead of experiencing that magic, how many people are stepping off a long-haul flight with a feeling of jetlag and fatigue? By combining its unique understanding of how the human body reacts to flight conditions and how emerging technologies can improve those conditions, Boeing is creating a better flying experience with its all-new 787 Dreamliner.
The company, along with universities throughout the globe, has embarked on numerous studies while developing the Dreamliner, to understand the effects of altitude, humidity, air contaminants, lighting, sound and space on passengers. Our findings have resulted in significant improvements to the 787, which is scheduled for delivery in the last quarter of 2010.
THE TERRORS OF FLIGHT TURBULENCE
Passengers will often give a higher rating to flights that do not encounter turbulence. The 787 will have sensors installed on the plane that cause certain control surfaces to react in turbulence. This helps to maintain a smoother ride throughout the flight, resulting in less nausea for suffers of motion sickness.
WHAT IS THE OPTIMUM HEIGHT?
Today’s planes are pressurised to a typical cabin altitude of 6500 to 7000 feet with a maximum certification altitude of 8000 feet. The advanced composite materials used on the 787 are stronger than aluminium, allowing for the cabin to be pressurised and therefore lowering altitude levels without causing fatigue to the fuselage structure. Studies at Oklahoma State University explored the effect of altitude on passengers to determine optimum levels. After testing at various altitudes, it became clear that lowering the cabin altitude to 6000 feet provided meaningful improvements. This included a decrease in the occurrence of altitude sickness and its symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue and dizziness. Medical experts found that there was no difference in the likelihood of discomfort at ground level and 6000 feet, although the likelihood of passengers experiencing altitude sickness increased in cabins pressurised above 6000 feet.
COMMON ISSUES WITH HUMIDITY AND AIR PURIFICATION DURING FLIGHTS
In cooperation with Denmark Technical University, Boeing challenged the assumption that boosting humidity would alleviate complaints about dryness on planes. The study found that humidity is not the only factor driving the symptoms associated with dryness. In fact, the most effective technology in reducing such symptoms is the introduction of a new gaseous filtration technology. Combining the technology with increased humidity offers increased passenger comfort and well-being. While today’s planes offer extremely clean air thanks to high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filters, which clean the air of particulates even down to the size of viruses, they are not equipped to filter gaseous molecules. Recent advances in gaseous filtration have now made it robust enough for use on commercial airplanes. By increasing the humidity and adding new filtration technologies, studies show the number of passengers experiencing the symptoms associated with dryness can be reduced. Additionally, the improvements in cabin altitude combine with humidity and cleaner air to create a significant improvement in passenger comfort.
THE PASSENGERS’ POINT OF VIEW
Boeing surveyed passengers on their reaction to different window options through the use of an innovative mock-up that allowed them to evaluate a variety of window sizes and shapes. The results clearly showed that passengers prefer larger windows. From an engineering point of view, however, larger windows have always been a challenge because the loads carried by the airplane structure are easier to deal with if the fuselage has fewer, or smaller, cut-outs like doors and windows. The fuselage on the 787 Dreamliner, however, is constructed out of advanced composite materials, rather than aluminium, which can handle the loads of larger window cut-outs. As a result, the 787 has larger windows than any of today’s current commercial planes, offering each passenger a commanding view of the horizon.
A BETTER FLYING EXPERIENCE
The 787 Dreamliner combines all of these pioneering new passenger features with unparalleled performance and advanced technology, making the airplane as innovative inside as it is outside. The result? A plane that airlines can operate reliably and efficiently and one that their passengers will enjoy flying. The 787 is truly the future of flight.