Can the first airliner built of mostly plastic actually fly? The weather was good enough today in Everett, Washington for the twin-engine Boeing 787 Dreamliner to take off for the first time. The 210-330-passenger began its historic maiden voyage, 1:26 PM Eastern Time — in the classic airline tradition, it was almost a half hour later than scheduled.
Looks like fun. The webcast features a flight tracker, a map showing the location of the webcast's viewers, and control room messages throughout the five-hour flight between Everett, Washington and Boeing's Seattle facility. You can also hear the pilots talking with air traffic control.
Why should we care? 50% of this plastic plane is made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, and 15% of it is made of aluminum, making it a lot lighter than other airplanes, giving it 20% better fuel efficiency than comparably sized planes. It's not sacrificing speed for efficiency — it zips along at the same speeds as today's fastest airliners, Mach 0.85, or around 647mph. Delayed for two years because of a variety of problems, thank goodness this crate got off the ground without a hitch.
Via 787 First Flight