Boeing Co. has been hyping the cabin comforts of its 787 Dreamliner for years, and passengers and journalists have offered mostly positive reviews since the composite-bodied jet began flying commercially last October.
This month, with the delivery of the first 787 made in North Charleston, local media, including The Post and Courier, finally got a chance to see, touch and smell the vaunted interior of the new jet.
In some respects, it was just another airplane. There were seats in rows, windows and overhead compartments, and a cockpit in the front and a galley in the back.
But in other obvious ways, like the fresh scent, it was clearly a new unit of a new model. The business-class seats were spacious and comfortable, and they lie flat, though that capability was not turned on for the media tour. The economy seats were harder and a much tighter fit.
The windows were noticeably larger and tinted dramatically at the push of a button, either letting in the bright South Carolina sun or dimming to darkness.
Looking up, the swing-down design of the new, larger stow bins are clearly an improvement from other airplanes, and the LED lighting in the ceiling was a pleasant blue.
While the few minutes aboard the jet on the ground did not test its in-flight features, such as higher humidity to decrease fatigue over a long voyage, the 787 cabin seemed a nice enough place to spend several hours.
From waste to watts
Restaurant kitchen grease, chicken farm sludge and wastewater plant residues will be put to a noble new use soon in Berkeley County. Come November, methane from the naturally decomposing products will be harnessed to produce enough electricity to power about 530 homes.
Sumter-based GenEarth/BioEnergy Technologies will begin converting organic waste products into a gas that will be converted into about 1.6 megawatts of electricity at its new power production plant at the county landfill near Moncks Corner. Itís designed to handle 65,000 tons of waste per year.
State-owned utility Santee Cooper will buy the power through a 20-year agreement with the company.
GenEarth CEO Greg Thompson said there are possibly other potential fuels that have not been identified. The plant was constructed with the ability to expand to accept other fuel sources as they become available, he added.
Liquid and solid materials exiting the system will be pasteurized to meet state health regulations for the production of bio-solids for agricultural use. About 25,000 tons per year can be produced.
The project is a first for GenEarth. Public agencies and companies that will be funneling waste products to the new facility instead of the landfill are Berkeley County Water and Sanitation Authority, Charleston Water System and chicken producer Pilgrimís Pride of Sumter.
Room to spare
After the 2012 PGA Championship brought a bumper crop of out-of-town visitors to Charleston County hotels in August, the lodging industry settled back down to a more normal pace in September.
Occupancy declined 1.2 percent in the county compared to a year ago for a total rate of 69.9 percent. About 2,250 fewer room nights were sold last month versus September 2011, according to the College of Charlestonís Office of Tourism Analysis.
One notable industry trend is the continual rise in average daily room rates, which were up 2 percent in September to $122.19. That figure has now risen on a year-over-year basis for 21 consecutive months.
Year to date, occupancy at Charleston County hotels is up by 0.3 percent, while the average daily rate climbed faster at 6 percent.
Peninsula hotels led all sub-markets with 82.2 percent occupancy and an average daily rate of $163.52 in September. Occupancy was up 1.1 percent while the average daily rate was down 1.3 percent.
In all, county hotels sold 315,796 room nights in September. The county has about 15,060 rooms, not including its beach communities.
The new federal fiscal year doesnít usually inspire the champagne and fireworks that attend the beginning of a new calendar year. But after winning more than $60 million worth of work in the days surrounding Oct. 1, the team at Life Cycle Engineering had good reason to celebrate.
On Sept. 25, the North Charleston-based company announced it had won a $23.7 million contract to work on mechanical and electrical systems and equipment for a Navy unit in Philadelphia.
On Oct. 2, the news came that the firm had been awarded another contract worth nearly $24 million for similar work on ships and submarines.
To boot, the company had won a $7.8 million contract from the same division of the Navy earlier in September.
And on Oct. 1, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic in North Charleston awarded Life Cycle a $19 million task order to provide technical solutions and support services.
Sequestration may be worrying the defense contracting industry this fall, but it appears Life Cycle Engineering, founded in 1976, is doing just fine.
Looking for a nibble
A Minneapolis-based barbecue chain says it is kicking the tires in the area as it seeks out potential franchisees. Famous Daveís of America says it will add 50 new locations throughout the country during the next two years, with 10 to 12 sites in South Carolina and two or three in the Charleston area.
The restaurant company has 186 units in its current portfolio. Its casual-dining restaurants are generally 5,000-plus square feet, but its new shack concept is about 3,000 square feet.