787 Dreamliner: Clearing the Air

Following up on yesterday’s launch of the new Boeing plane (coming to airlines next year): the interior air should be substantially better than in current planes.

Here’s the thing: the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is made from three carbon-plastic composite “tubes” that are “snapped” together. These materials have a higher strength than aluminum (the current airplane material of choice) and can withstand higher pressures and higher humidity.

This means that the planes can be pressurized more and can contain air that is more humid than older planes. Essentially, planes are now pressurized at the equivalent of 8,000 feet of elevation when you’re flying at 35,000+ feet, so that there’s not too much strain put on the airframe. Likewise, the humidity inside is kept pretty low because water vapor can cause metal fatigue.

The new plane can be pressurized to about 6,000 feet equivalent, and can have much higher air humidity internally and operate just fine. This could make us much, much more comfortable in the air.

Not only that, but the materials can allow bigger windows!