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.

Comments (9)

Jun Leido (Manila, Philippines):

This is really breakthrough aviation - that is technologically advanced airplane, supported by a financially sustainable program. Let AIRBUS beat that!

Airbus makes great planes. We cannot deny the popularity of their planes with operators - like the A320 and A330. I'm pretty impressed even with the " 4 Engines 4 Long Gone " A340. But - Airbus makes planes that feeds good politics. Their priorities are the governments of the member countries, their unions. They're not looking at what the airline operators want and need; or what the flying public like and ride.

Kudos to Boeing for putting the customer right in the cross-hairs of its business. The 787 will be a flying success.

Mark (Los Angeles, CA):

Looks like the 787 is coming along nicely! I can't wait for rollout and first flight!

Chris C (South Africa):

The Boeing 747-8 is no doubt the shape of the future, as well as the pinnacle of airborne elegance and excellence. Airbus’s COO, John Leahy, is absolutely convinced that once the giant A380 enters service (successfully), the orders will begin ‘to flood in’ as other airlines will need to compete against the airline operating the A380! Further, Mr. Leahy is quoted on saying that the momentum and orders will build for the A380 after in-service, just the same way as it did for the 747 in 1970. Where Mr. Leahy is flawed is he is comparing the service entry of the 747 in 1970 to service entry of an A380 in 2007. When the first 747 entered service, it was the first and only wide-body airplane, the first and only airplane to offer non-stop high capacity long-range flights and offer cheap fares due to its exceptionally good economics…in other words it ushered in the way the world still flies today. The airlines that did not operate the 747 had no choice but to order the airplane, as there was no viable, economical alternative. Today, we have a dramatically different market climate with multiple, exceptionally economical alternatives.

Should an airline not operate the A380, then it has the choice to compete against the airline that operates the A380, with more frequency, point to point, more economical, efficient and passenger/environmental friendly flights flying 787s, 747-8s or 777s. I say the latter is the way the world wants to continue to fly!! Air travel is mushrooming, but increasing frequency, point-to-point flights and lower costs is the solution, not an over-grown Airbus giant trying to fit into a 21st century market with 1970 market philosophies!

On another note, well done for the smooth, efficient production of the 787...Keep it Up!

G (France):

It seems that your 787 contingency plan has been successful.

S. Ferguson (Houston):

The 787 and 747-8 will prosper even more when passengers and operators realize that point-to-point service releases fewer engine emissiions than an A380 flight to a hub with a connecting flght.

True green practices would do away altogether with the current hub-and-spoke system of our major carriers, where people connect at some random city, often far off the straight-line path from the origin to the destination, forcing travellers to fly much further and burn more fuel than they would have on a direct flight.

This is becoming a vindication of Boeings long-stated, customer-drivern, point-to-point focus.

guofrank (Beijing,China):


Along with the breakthrough that allows your plane to be faster and more comfortable, I hope that you can make them more friendly to the environment.

Tim (Baltimore , Maryland):

I can remember only a few short years ago that Boeing introduced the 7E7 ( 787 ) and it didn't even have a name yet and the contest to find a name for it...
It seems like we closed our eyes for a few minutes and WOW ! the 787 will be rolling out soon on 7/8/07...

" Dreams do come true with the 787 "

Not only is the 787 the worlds fastest selling airliner before entry of service, but ?
Is this Boeing's fastest airliner to concept , development, to service ?

About the 747-8I weight ?
( I know, I know what your going to say, " there you go again " )
I know, I can't stop thinking of ways to make the 747-8I as light as it can be to cut out the weight.
Is it true that Boeing is thinking about making the wing box or center wing box for Emirates Airlines 747-8I SEV out of composites ?
Might as well make it for the current 747-8I extended version ( 747-8I EV/ extended version ) and the Emirates version ( 747-8I SEV / short extended version for Emirates ).
To bad Boeing is spending only about 1.5 / 2 Billion for the development of the 747-8I/Pax/F versions, might as well have spent another billion to put more composites on the 747-8I, but, then again, I guess Boeing chose to justify not to spend more than what is needed.
To bad ( with few tweeks ) Boeing could not put the vertical stabilizer from the 777 on the 747-8I since it's made out of composites.
I guess soon Boeing will have the design on the 747-8I pax version firmed up ? and the actual building of the parts with commence soon ?

G (France):

More than 500 787 sold before the rollout. WOW!

Chris C (South Africa):

CONGRATULATIONS on the Boeing 787's phenomenal achievement of passing the 500th order mark!! That is simply outstanding. Well done and way to go 787...Keep it Up! The 787 no doubt is the icon of the 21st Century!

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