Cleaning Up With Next-Gen Jets

Lightweight materials are already set to slash the cost of flying airliners, so planemakers are focusing on more efficient engines

The buzz at this year's Paris air show was about the plastics revolution—a new generation of aircraft built from tough, lightweight composite materials. Boeing (BA) says its new, all-composite 787 Dreamliner, set for launch next year, will cost 20% less to operate than conventional planes, thanks mainly to its reduced weight. Airbus makes a similar promise for its rival A350 XWB model, now under development.

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