Construction of British Airways’ first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner has begun, with the aircraft scheduled to join the airline’s fleet in May.
British Airways has ordered 24 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, as well as 12 Airbus A380 superjumbos.
British Airways ordered eight Boeing 787-8s and 16 787-9s and was due to receive its first Dreamliner, a 787-8, in May 2013
The airline is on track to be first in Europe to have both the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A380 operating in its fleet, according to British Airways.
“The Dreamliner, with its lightweight composite construction, is truly radical,” says Keith Williams, British Airways’ chief executive. “It marks a new era in British Airways as we take delivery of a new generation of stylish and fuel-efficient aircraft, bringing even better service to our customers.”
Adds Williams: “These revolutionary aircraft form part of a £5 billion investment by British Airways in new aircraft, smarter cabins, elegant lounges, and new technologies to make life more comfortable in the air and on the ground.”
The Boeing 787 is the first large commercial aircraft to have a carbon fiber composite skin, instead of an aluminum skin. The composite skin covers its four separately built fuselage sections, which are “baked” in huge ovens.
According to BA, 65 per cent of the 787 is built by suppliers from outside the U.S. The parts are then brought together and joined on the final assembly lines in Boeing’s Seattle or Charleston factories, using thousands of fasteners, compared to the nearly 1,000,000 rivets used to build a conventional Boeing 747.
The first part of the British Airways 787 to be built, which is 50 per cent constructed of composite materials, was the mid-forward fuselage, which was constructed in Japan.British Airways placed an order for 12 Airbus A380 superjumbos in 2006
Suppliers in the UK provide the plane’s landing gear, while Derbyshire-based Rolls-Royce is supplying Trent 1000 engines for the Dreamliner.
Other parts of the aircraft, such as the center fuselage, are built in Italy, while the aft and forward fuselage (including the flight deck), as well as the engine nacelles, are built in the U.S.
The center wing box, main landing gear wheel well, wings and fixed trailing edge are made in Japan, while the horizontal stabiliser is made in Italy, and the wing’s moveable trailing edge in Australia.
According to British Airways, dedicated teams across the airline are working behind the scenes to prepare for both the 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A380s entering into BA service.
British Airways says the new aircraft will bring significant opportunities to grow its route network and that it will announce new destinations for both the Boeing 787 and the A380 next year.
Last year, British Airways completed the latest phase of a multi-million pound redevelopment of its London Heathrow Airport engineering base to prepare for the arrival of its new fleets of Boeing 787s, Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A380s.