Mon, Jul 10, 2006
Starting Planning On Single-Color Engine Nacelles
Boeing is going over the final design of its upcoming 787
Dreamliner with a fine-touch comb... and the manufacturer has
announced a way for airlines to save money in operating the new
jet, with the only questionable tradeoff being one of aesthetics.
In a change Boeing calls "subtle but important", from this point on
all Dreamliners will sport single-color engine nacelles.
The manufacturer says the 787 nacelle has a very smooth surface,
to preserve laminar air flow over a greater distance than that on a
standard design. To achieve the proper laminar flow over the inlet,
Boeing says it is necessary to maintain a very smooth, continuous
surface without paint edges -- which can occur when paint
transitions from one color to another (below), or as paint details
(such as airline or engine manufacturer logos) are added.
"Aircraft drag is reduced because laminar flow has much lower
skin friction drag than turbulent flow," said Ron Hinderberger,
propulsion leader for the 787 program. "If you interrupt the
laminar flow by adding paint layers, which are common with airline
liveries, you could increase fuel burn by 30,000 gallons per year
What that means is... you can have your Dreamliner in however
many colors you want... as long as the engine nacelles are
monochrome. For 787s sporting Boeing's blue-and-white livery, the
nacelles will be gray... the better to match the aluminum intake
inlet, Boeing says.
In the face of rising fuel costs, though, we doubt many airlines
will mind the aesthetic tradeoff.
The first Dreamliner is scheduled for delivery in 2008. To date,
28 airlines have logged 403 orders and commitments for the 787
since its introduction in April 2004, making the Dreamliner the
most successful commercial airplane launch in history.
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