Behind the scenes story on naming the Dreamliner

A lot of you remember the contest Boeing held back in 2003 to name what was then dubbed the 7E7 airplane. Of course, the name “Dreamliner” came out on top and will forever be attached to what is now the 787. What you may not know is just how close the Dreamliner came to being called the Global Cruiser.

When we started the process of naming the new airplane, I sat through numerous “naming sessions” and workshops. I can’t remember exactly how many names we came up with—but it’s safe to say the final short list was substantially different from the original list by the time our legal and trademark teams finished their work.

At the time, many people at Boeing were pulling for the name Global Cruiser. But instead of picking a name ourselves from the final short list, we decided to hold a contest. If that contest had been held exclusively in the United States, Global Cruiser would have won.

Instead, the naming contest for the 7E7 was held online with people from more than 160 countries casting their votes. Here were the four choices:

  • Dreamliner
  • Global Cruiser
  • Stratoclimber
  • eLiner

After almost 500,000 votes were cast on, the Dreamliner won by a margin of only 2500. While the Global Cruiser turned out to be the name preferred by U.S. residents, the Dreamliner was by far the favorite among the rest of the world in this name game.


787 Dreamliner first flight - December 15, 2009.

In addition to choosing a name, the public was also invited to join the World Design Team, a virtual community that provided input to the development of the 787.

Naming the Dreamliner was incredibly important to us. We wanted to bring back the magic when airplanes had names— not just numbers. And now, as Paul Harvey so famously said, you know the rest of the story

Comments (12)

Rob (Charleston, SC):

That's a neat story Randy. I love little bits of trivia like that, and as a new-to-Boeing employee I'm hungry for all of that I can get. Thanks for sharing!

Spencer Comert (Everett, WA USA):

Hi Randy 2.0!

You previously noted Boeing may re-engine the 737 or build its all-new successor (

I wonder if we will see a new list of nicknames and a survey for an improved 737 or its new replacement, depending on the direction Boeing goes. I already started thinking of a few :)

Greg J. (london):

Can't imagine the eliner . It will always be the Dreamliner to me. Thanks for sharing Randy .

Jonathan (Everett):

Thanks for sharing Randy,
I propose naming the new KC-46A. How about ORCA!

Bill Lewandowski (Everett, WA ):

That was a close call. The Dreamliner just fits!

Thomas V. Horstmann, Jr. (Portland, OR):

Wow, I am glad the rest of the planet got it right! Dreamliner couldn't be a better name, for such a dynamic and game changing aircraft...

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

I remember when I made my vote, I voted for "Stratoclimber" because like the Boeing 307 "Stratoliner" which was the worlds first pressurized airliner to go into service and the Boeing 377 "Stratocruiser" which was the first Boeing mass produced pressurized airliner, the Boeing 787 would be the first airliner to have a pressurized cabin altitude of 6,000 feet making it more pressurized and more comfortable than any other airliner in the world.

Though I picked "Stratoclimber" I am glad "Dreamliner" was picked as it sounds more modern as the last planes to assigned with the "strato" prefix where from the early fifties.

Leilani (Huntington Beach, California):

The DREAMLINER is rapidly approaching Global Reality!

Scott (Seattle, WA):

Hi Randy - Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed this story. Having worked on this program and currently living in S Seattle, I can honestly say I believe in the dream. While doing yardwork in my backyard last Sunday, I watched two 787s takeoff from the south end of Boeing Field. As always, they are quiet and majestic while taking to the air :)

TC (Mt. Vernon, WA):

And a lesser known fact, the first choice for the Intercontinental was the Funky Town. But having the 747-8F and the 747-8FT would lead to a mix-up, so it was shelved.

Julian (Manila, Philippines):

Global liner sounds too dated. eLiner also seems dated. Stratocruiser seems like the airplane was built in 1940. The dreamliner really fits this aircraft.

Barb (Candler, NC United States):

As I recall, in 2003 Boeing asked the public to come up with suggestions as to what to name the new 747. I submitted the name Dreamliner. The Boeing Company took all of the submissions and the public could vote for their favorite up to 10x a day. I, of course, voted for Dreamliner. Please check your records Randy. The public voted for Dreamliner, the public chose Dreamliner. I could not make it to the unvieling because I am disabled. I was not able to fly to the unvieling. Ironic, isn't it? What 'flies' around comes around. Just thought you would like to know where the original name Dreamliner came from. Me.

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