Crunching the Dreamliner’s numbers

Boeing 787 Dreamliners are parked nose-to-tail at Paine Field in Everett, Wash.

With 282 Dreamliner deliveries since the first 787-8 went to All Nippon Airways on Sept. 25, 2011, the statistics are starting to pile up:

More than 257,000 flights.

Passengers totaling 48 million.

More than 568 million revenue miles.

Boeing Co., which makes the Dreamliner in North Charleston and in Everett, Wash., recently issued a presentation on the 787’s progress in advance of this week’s Paris Air Show. With an average of 10 of the jets being produced each month (four in Charleston; six in Everett) Boeing is cranking out more wide-bodies than ever before. Production is scheduled to increase to 12 per month by the end of this year, when the first profit-making Dreamliner will be delivered.

“Moving to this high rate so quickly has put a lot of strain on our supply chain,” Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, said during Boeing’s annual media gathering in Washington state, as reported by Airways News.

“This is the fastest production rate increase for a wide-body aircraft in history,” Loftis said during the event. “As an example, the 777 program took 18 years to reach 8.2 aircraft per month. The production build in the 787 final assembly line is quickening from 30 days to 24 days. All in all, this is considered quite a feat for an aircraft composed of 2.3 million parts.”

Building the fuel-efficient Dreamliner with lightweight composite materials has saved 2.1 billion pounds of fuel and allowed airlines to create 55 new nonstop markets, Loftis said.

He added that North Charleston will remain the only production location for the 787-10, Boeing’s longest Dreamliner. That’s because the midbody is too large to fit into the Dreamlifter cargo hauler — a 747 designed to shuttle large airplane parts from suppliers to the final assembly plants in South Carolain and Washington.

United Kingdom-based GKN Aerospace will make floor grids for Dreamliner planes at its existing plant in Orangeburg and parts for the 737-MAX and 777X single-wide planes at a new Orangeburg factory and facilities in California, the company announced.

No financial or employment details were provided.

Propulsion South Carolina, Boeing’s jet engine facility in North Charleston’s Palmetto Commerce Park, makes engine nacelle inlets for the 737-MAX and designs and engineers the 777X nacelle. GKN will make inlet lip skins — the round metal encircling the front of an engine nacelle — for those planes.

Production of the inlet lip skins will be part of GKN’s acquisition of Sheets Manufacturing, a California-based parts-maker.

Sheets already makes lip skins for Boeing’s 747-8 model.

You can watch the aerial demonstration that Boeing’s 787-9 will perform at this week’s Paris Air Show from the comfort of your living-room couch.

Boeing posted a video of the demonstration on its YouTube channel. You can watch the video here:

During the video, a Dreamliner in Vietnam Airlines livery soars above Moses Lake in Washington state, showing various technical maneuvers that showcase the airplane’s capabilities.

The air show is the world’s largest aviation expo, alternating between venues in London and Paris. This year it runs today through Thursday.

The 787 made its formal industry debut at the 49th Paris Air Show when it touched down at Le Bourget Airport in June 2011.