Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and the Decline of Innovation

What the star-crossed history of the Boeing 787 says about the decline of innovation
Photograph by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

By the standards of commercial airplanes, the Boeing 787 was supposed to be a modern marvel. Its carbon-fiber body and new electrical system give it a reduced weight, which allows it to burn 20 percent less fuel than the midsize airplanes it’s meant to replace. The interior cabin features cathedral-like archways to reduce the sense of claustrophobia and enlarged windows that dim at the touch of a button. Because of the new, stronger composite materials, the cabin can also be maintained at higher pressure and humidity, so travelers feel fresher at landing. The airplane even has a soaring name, the Dreamliner, the winning submission in a naming contest held on America Online 10 years ago.

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