If you wanted some further visual evidence that we’re getting close to our first 787 Dreamliner, you need only take a look at some remarkable photos out of Italy.
Two 787 fuselage sections loaded into the Dreamlifter in Grottaglie, Italy. (Photo courtesy of Alenia Aeronautica)
Alenia Aeronautica delivered the first fuselage sections of the Dreamliner at the end of last week. These two composite center sections (known as sections 44 and 46) were manufactured at Alenia’s 787 facility in Grottaglie.
These are the one-piece carbon fiber “barrel sections” that you’ve probably heard a lot about. Manufacturing these huge fuselage sections involves breakthrough technologies that have never been used on this scale before.
Alenia is a key member of the global team assembling the Dreamliner - financing, designing, and developing the structural components for this new airplane. Alenia is also manufacturing the 787’s horizontal stabilizer.
This was the first visit to Italy for the Dreamlifter, and the first delivery of 787 fuselage structures by Alenia. (Photo courtesy of Alenia Aeronautica)
Fuselage section 44 is about 28 feet long (8.5 meters), and section 46 is about 33 feet (10 meters). Inside the “Dreamlifter,” they flew across the Atlantic last Thursday night to Global Aeronautica’s facility in Charleston, South Carolina. In Charleston, they’ll be joined with other fuselage sections before heading here to Everett for final assembly of the first 787.
You know, I often get questions – including a recent one in our comments – about whether we plan to take the Dreamlifter project into a full-fledged freighter line. But Boeing has no plans to do so. This is a special-purpose aircraft designed specifically to support 787 production.
This photo of the 787 fuselage sections inside the Alenia facility gives you a sense of the size of the airplane. (Photo courtesy of Alenia Aeronautica)
By the way we’re approaching 500 orders for the 787 – as of today 39 customers have placed 491 firm orders for the Dreamliner - which is already the most successful launch of a new commercial airliner.
And as we saw last week, the dream is turning into reality.