Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – Virtual Tour and Review
Boeing almost didn’t build the Dreamliner. It saw the future of air travel as one in which planes would circumnavigate the world at close to the speed of sound and, accordingly, planned an aircraft called the Sonic Cruiser that could attain Mach 0.98. In part due to rising fuel costs at the turn of the century, airlines had something else in mind: long-range planes that were more fuel efficient and light weight. Boeing ditched the Sonic Cruiser idea but used one aspect of it, that of a lightweight, composite airliner, as the basis for the Dreamliner. Speed was out, efficiency was in.
INTRODUCING VIRGIN ATLANTIC’S 787-9 DREAMLINER
Virgin launched its first Dreamliner route, London-Boston, last year in October, operating its first Dreamliner, “Birthday Girl.” The second route links London with Washington using “Dream Girl,” its second 787, and the airline expects to take delivery of 14 more by 2018.
At 260 feet (79.2 meters), the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is a stretch version of the 787-8, which is 210 feet (64 meters) long. It can seat 280 passengers, 16% more than a 787-8.
The aircraft is a long-range, wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 557,000 pounds (252,651 kilograms) and total cargo volume of 5,400 cubic feet (153 cubic meters), a significant increase over the 787-8, which in turn is a 10% increase over a similarly sized Boeing 767-300.
The Dreamliner’s typical cruising speed is Mach 0.85. This is slightly faster than the Mach 0.80 for a Boeing 767-400ER and 0.84 for a Boeing 777-200ER. At 30,000 feet altitude Mach 0.85 translates to 577 mph or 929 km/h. It has a range of 8,300 nautical miles (15,372 kilometers), some 450 nautical miles more than the 787-8, despite having nearly identical fuel capacity.
Virgin’s 787-9 is configured with 264 seats in three separate cabins. Thirty-one of those seats are in business class, which Virgin calls Upper Class. Aft of this cabin are the airline’s Premium Economy section with 35 seats, followed by coach, with 198 seats.