For at least one post, Shifting Gears will become Lifting Gears. That’s because we’re going avi-a-shun for a few paragraphs, digressing from wheeled earthbound transport to talk about doings in the skies. Yesterday, Boeing’s new passenger jet, the 787, had its much-delayed maiden flight. Looks as if everything went a-ok. The 787, with its composite, carbon-fiber construction and more fuel-efficient engines, took off, cruised around for three hours, then landed.
Boeing has been developing the 787 “Dreamliner” for years, aiming to take market share from its main competitor, Airbus. The goal was to build an environmentally more sustainable aircraft, lighter, quieter, and capable of using 20 percent less fuel than current planes of its size (it can carry 200-300 passengers). In my experience, Boeing planes feel plusher and more solid during all aspects of flight, from takeoff, through ascent, to descent and landing. Airbuses always feel more jittery, yet they seem to maneuver more crisply in the air. Obviously, I’m no pilot, so what do I know, but I always think of Boeings as Cadillacs and Airbuses as BMWs or Mercedes.