Sunday, November 9, 2014

Museum of Flight Welcomes Boeing 787 to Collection

By Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Published November 8, 2014

MOF 787 JDL SEATTLE, WASHINGTON: Seattle’s Museum of Flight became the first museum in the world to welcome a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to its collection on Saturday. The airplane, the third 787 ever made, was donated to the well-known Seattle aerospace institution by Boeing.

Its sleek design and sheer size made it easy to spot in the museum parking lot, its temporary home through the weekend. A line of people, hundreds deep, snaked around the jet, stretching out for a nearly two-hour wait to see the inside of the museum’s newest acquisition.

Inside, visitors marveled at the shade-less dimming windows, sleek business class seats, and glittering multicolored mood lighting on the ceiling.

“It’s a curator’s dream,” said Dan Hagedorn, Senior Curator for the Museum of Flight, while sitting inside the jet’s tech-heavy flight deck. “The fact that you receive an advanced, state of the art aircraft at the beginning of its production in service life rather than at the tail end; this is unprecedented.”

Indeed, the induction of such a young airplane to any museum is exceptionally rare in the world of aerospace. Predictably, most exhibits arrive at the end of life, not the beginning. A few hundred yards away the world’s first Boeing 737 and 747 jets lie preserved in a lot, also owned by the museum. Both followed the more traditional trajectory, flying around the world for decades before settling down at the museum for a well-earned retirement. Other early-build Boeing jets, such as the younger but still decades-old 757 and 777, continue to fly today.

Which leaves the giant 787, known as ZA003, standing in stark contrast to the rest of the museum’s predictably aged collection: it isn’t even six years old. Arguably a sacrificial lamb, along with several other early-build Dreamliners, this particular airplane symbolizes both the success and struggles of the Dreamliner program.

Its early days were certainly more struggle than success. When the airplane rolled out of the Boeing factory hangar in March of 2009, the program was already years behind schedule. Design flaws, manufacturing errors, and supply-chain quality problems had the plagued the innovative Dreamliner, the first airliner to be built completely out of composite materials instead of aluminum.

ZA003 was hardly immune from the troubles. By the time it took flight in March of 2010 it had been taken apart and rebuilt so many times that Boeing had already written it off, part of a $2.9 billion research and development charge. It was thus permanently relegated to the test-flight fleet, along with the first two 787s built.

It may have gone on to spend its early retirement in the California desert, much like the first and second aircraft, had Boeing not hatched bigger plans for ZA003. As delays continued to mount and customers became increasingly frustrated, Boeing dispatched the jet on a round-the-world tour in late 2011 to buoy customer and supplier moral. The airplane visited cities across the globe, from Boston to Beijing, Madrid to Mexico City.

MOF 787-1-2 MOF 787-2
Left, the shade-less windows of the 787, adjustable by pushing a button, are shown in several stages. Right, the economy section of ZA003.

The plan worked, says Boeing’s Chief 787 Pilot, Randy Neville, who piloted the jet through the majority of the tour. “This airplane made the whole concept of the 787 real to customers,” he said, “they could see the real airplane, the real technology that we had been developing for so many years. They could know that it’s coming.” The tour is now widely credited for boosting early confidence in the jet.

Hagedorn agrees: “This was the [airplane] that really enabled the company to strut its stuff; to show the buying public that this in fact was a major leap forward.”

Despite standing as a testament to both the program’s troubled past and increasingly stable present, ZA003 will also serve as an inspiration for the future.

“By donating the 787 to the MOF, our teammates, their families, and our community will be able to visit and see the airplane that all of you have supported on this journey, ” said Boeing’s 787 Program General Manager Larry Loftis at the hand-over ceremony. “We hope that this airplane will inspire those that have come to the museum today, as well as future generations,” he said.

The airplane will remain in the Museum of Flight parking lot, open to the public, through the weekend. It will close on the 10th to prepare for becoming a permanent exhibition, reopening later this year.

SLIDESHOW

MOF 787CAPT-24 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-24 JDL
ZA003, the third Boeing 787 ever built, rests in the Museum of Flight parking lot.
MOF 787CAPT-19 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-19 JDL
Dan Hagedorn, Senior Curator at the Museum of Flight, sits inside the flight deck of ZA003.
JDL MOF 787
JDL MOF 787
Visitors completing their tour of the inside disembark the airplane.
JDL MOF 787
JDL MOF 787
A two-hour long line forms around the tail of the jet.
MOF 787CAPT-11 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-11 JDL
Museum of Flight President Doug King, left, poses with Boeing 787 General Program Manager Larry Loftis, right, after taking possession of the ceremonial keys.
MOF 787CAPT-12 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-12 JDL
Mrs. June Boeing, left, climbs the airstairs along with Museum of Flight President Doug King as the first to board the jet.
MOF 787CAPT-1 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-1 JDL
Bryan Wygle (left), test pilot on the first Boeing 747 flight in 1969, speaks with Mike Carriker (right), test pilot aboard the first Boeing 787 flight in 2009, at the induction of Boeing 787 ZA003 at the Museum of Flight on November 8, 2014.
JDL MOF 787
JDL MOF 787
Passengers board the jet for a tour of the interior.
MOF 787CAPT-23 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-23 JDL
Aaron Fairbanks, two, is held up by his father Trenton to touch the bottom of the jet.
JDL MOF 787
JDL MOF 787
Members of public board the jet for their tour.
JDL MOF 787
JDL MOF 787
The economy cabin of ZA003.
MOF 787CAPT-17 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-17 JDL
Noah, 3, runs up the aisle ZA003 as his family take in the sights on board ZA003.
MOF 787CAPT-16 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-16 JDL
Throngs of people waiting for their turn to board the jet are seen outside the windows.
MOF 787CAPT-15 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-15 JDL
The rear cabin of ZA003, currently empty. It will later be filled with exhibits.
MOF JDL 787
MOF JDL 787
Perri Howard of Seattle plays with the 787s unique dimming windows.
MOF 787CAPT-13 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-13 JDL
A visitor checks out the rear crew rest area on board ZA003 at the Museum of Flight.
MOF 787CAPT-10 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-10 JDL
Customer flags adorn the front fuselages of ZA003, the third 787 ever built, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
MOF 787CAPT-9 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-9 JDL
Captain Randy Neville, chief Boeing pilot for the 787 program, holds the keys to the jet in his hands before turning them over to the museum.
MOF 787CAPT-5 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-5 JDL
A seat back for the economy section of ZA003 shows a regular inflight entertainment system.
MOF 787CAPT-6 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-6 JDL
Jennifer Knutson of Seattle experiments with the Dreamliners unique windows at the ZA003 induction ceremony at the Museum of Flight.
MOF JDL 787
MOF JDL 787
ZA003's engine, the Rolls Royce Trent 1000, hangs from its wing.
MOF 787CAPT-4 JDL
MOF 787CAPT-4 JDL
The economy interior of ZA003, seen at the Museum of Flight on November 8, 2014.

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Contact the editor at benet.wilson@airwaysnews.com

Contact the author at Jeremy@JDLMultimedia.com
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / AirwaysNews

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