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Saturday, April 18, 2015

R2D2 Flies Again - Goes Boeing

If there's one thing George Lucas knows how to do, it's market the hell out of his beloved Star Wars franchise.

With the final story arc of Lucas' always-gonna-be-nine-parts Star Wars epic due to begin in December of 2915, the marketing has begun on a large scale.

Check out the awesome image above. Recognize the pattern?

That's R2D2's paint scheme upon Japan's ANA (All Nippon Airways) Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner passenger jet, the opening salvo of a five-year "Star Wars Project".

Hopefully this R2D2 can fly for a longer period of time than the erstwhile droid did back in original trilogy (I think it was Part V - Empire Strikes Back, but feel free to correct me if you must).

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner version.

The 787-9 is the first 787 variant with a "stretched" or lengthened fuselage that is 206 feet (63 m) long. It seats 280 passengers in a typical three-class arrangement with a range of 8,300 nautical miles (9,600 mi; 15,400 km). This variant differs from the 787-8 in several ways, including structural strengthening, a lengthened fuselage, a higher fuel capacity, a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW), but with the same wingspan as the 787-8. When launched, the 787-9 had the same fuel capacity as the 787-8. The design differences meant higher weight and resulted in a slightly shorter range than the 787-8. After further consultation with airlines, design changes were incorporated to add a forward tank to increase its fuel capacity, so it has a longer range and a higher maximum takeoff weight than the 787-8. The -9 features active boundary-layer control at the rear, reducing drag. 

Now… don't go rushing out to hop on flying tin can just yet - though perhaps you could book it now, but the special Star Wars jet won't be making its international flight debut until this Autumn - closer to when Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts on December 18.

ANA was the launch customer for the Boeing 787, which entered service in 2011.

It has 34 Dreamliners jets—the largest such fleet, with another 49 787 planes on order.

This past March, 2015, ANA finalized an order for three 787-10 Dreamliners—that's about $900-million (¥107.1-billion).

According to Wikipedia:
The 787-10 is to be 224 ft 1 in (68.30 m) long and have a range up to 7,000 nmi (13,000 km). Its range covers more than 90% of the world's twin-aisle passenger routes including Europe to US West Coast and trans-Pacific flights. The variant is to seat up to 330-passengers in a typical 3-class configuration. The 787-10 was envisioned as replacing current 777-200, Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft. Boeing was having discussions with potential customers about the 787-10 in 2006 and 2007.

In March 2006, Mike Bair, the head of the 787 program at the time, stated that "It's not a matter of if, but when we are going to do it... The 787-10 will be a stretched version of the 787-9 and sacrifice some range to add extra seat and cargo capacity."

ANA is now the first airline in Asia to own the entire line of Boeing 787 Dreamliners

Andrew Joseph

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