First Look Inside the In-Demand Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

Boeing recently unveiled a newly painted Singapore Airlines 787-10 Dreamliner as one of the company’s recent advancements to full-scale production of its newest aircraft.

Photos from early October show the twin-aisle jet after a visit to the North Charleston plant’s new paint facility. The plane is one of three Dash 10s that have been built so far in South Carolina. The aircraft continue to undergo system checks, fueling and engine tests.

2017 has been a busy year for the Boeing plant with the plane’s rollout ceremony in February, featuring President Donald Trump and Boeing CEO and President Dennis Muilenburg.

Weeks later, in March, the plane took its inaugural flight in front of hundreds of plant workers.

And earlier this month, SCETV and other media outlets got a first look inside one of the test planes.

First flight of the plane occurred five weeks earlier than planned, according to the company, since the Dash 10 and the Dash 9 variant are about 95 percent the same. The main difference, however, is that the Dash 10 is 18 feet longer, which helps it accommodate 330 passengers.

The North Charleston facility works on all three models of the Dreamliner, but the Dash 10 line will be the only one completely assembled there.

The production ramp up of the Dash 10 will also coincide with a favorable environment in the global aircraft market, Boeing CEO and President Dennis Muilenburg said. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Laguna Conference in September, Muilenburg noted that many airline fleets will be replacing their aging wide-body aircraft, which will help fuel demand for Dreamliners.

"Much of that replacement demand will also be satisfied with 787s,” Muilenburg said. “And the 787-10, now just coming online, that flight test program is going exceptionally well and as that gets into the fleets, we think that adds a tremendous amount of value for our airline customers and will only accelerate the appetite for more orders.”

So far, 177 orders have been placed for the Dash 10 variant. Thirty of those are from Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates-based airline, which, like other airlines from the UAE like Emirates, flydubai and Presidential Flight, are huge Boeing customers. The region is such a large customer for Boeing that the UAE ambassador Yousef Al Otaba recently toured the Boeing facility and the Dash 10 aircraft.

“That airplane will be the latest of more than 500 Boeing airplanes purchased by UAE airlines,” Al Otaba said.

Boeing forecasts that the Middle East will require some 3,300 new airplanes through 2035, worth an estimated $770 billion.

David Carbon, Boeing South Carolina Vice President of 787 Operations, spoke to the importance of the business partnership with the UAE airlines.

The ambassador saw the automated carbon fiber process that helps make the Dreamliner, constructed of half composite materials. Composite materials are stronger and lighter than metals and increase fuel economy. The reduced weight also allows the cabin to be pressurized to a lower altitude adding to passenger comfort and offsetting many negative effects of long flights.

Workers won’t start producing the Dash 10 until testing is completed in the coming months. However, fabrication, assembly and installation of systems for the rear section of other Dreamliners is then joined with the mid-body fuselage section, and some final assembly work continues.

But production of the Dash 10 will begin soon and deliveries will start rolling out of the final assembly facility beginning in the first half of 2018. The first aircraft will head to the Dash 10’s launch partner, Singapore Airlines. The airline has a firm order for 30 aircraft and the intent to purchase 19 more.

The six-year-old North Charleston facility and Boeing in Everett, Washington currently produce 12 Dreamliners a month. The company said it will ramp up output of all three Dreamliner models to 14 per month in 2019.