Qantas Dreamliner Technical Close Up

By Grahame Hutchison on Sunday, 22nd October 2017

Following my onboard inspection of the new Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on Sunday, I was able to make a fairly comprehensive inspection around the aircraft, with a slightly more technical focus. The Dreamliner is a significant step forward in aircraft design, from the extensive use of carbon fiber composites (50%), to the new electrically driven systems, including the brakes.


Maximum Takeoff Weight: 254,000kg / 560,000lb

Average Cruise Speed: Mach 0.85

Range With Full Payload: 14,498km / 9,008m

Freight Capacity: 17,942kg / 39,555lb

Cruise Altitude: 35,000-43,000ft

Length: 62.81m / 208.1ft

Wingspan: 60.12m / 197.3ft

Height: 17.02m / 55.1ft

Engines: GEnx-1B74/75/P2

Maximum Engine Thrust: 331.4kN / 74,500lb


Associated News Articles

Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Delivery Flight

On Board The New Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner


The beautiful new Qantas B787-9 Dreamliner parked in Hangar 96

This position in Qantas Hangar 96 is normally taken by an A380 undergoing an A Check, or routine operational maintenance - the maintenance gantry provided the perfect location to view the Dreamliner up close. This is the port forward cabin door of Great Southern Land, with the One World logo alongside the door.

Door opening instructions - "Push In Red Flap, Pull Out Handle, Rotate As Shown, Pull Door Outwards"

The beautiful nose of VH-ZNA with just two cockpit windows on either side, none of which open like on many previous cockpit designs

The retro Qantas logo and an aircraft name, Great Southern Land, sets off the nose beautifully. Cockpit window wipers park on the vertical separator of the two forward facing cockpit windows.

The windscreen wiper operation is sequenced, Captains wiper first, then First Officer wiper, The radome has lightning conductor strips, and houses the ILS Glideslope and Localiser receiver, and the weather radar scanner and tracking mechanism. Above and behind the First Officer's seat is the cockpit escape hatch.

The nose gear is forward retracting, and has torque scissor links at the rear above the tyres. The P40 Service and Shutdown Panel has a Call Button for Ground Crew with headsets to talk to the cockpit (centre left), APU Fire warning light (centre left large red), APU Shutdown and Bottle Discharge buttons (top right large Green & Red buttons), nose landing gear (NLG) door controls (centre bottom), and a switch to turn on the wheel well lighting (centre left).

A closer view of the Nose Gear P40 Panel

Warning: "Hand Can Be Crushed Or Cut. Keep Your Hand Out Of The Door Unless Power Is Off, Can Result In Serious Injury"

Ground power connection - The main battery (lithium-ion) is located in the forward Electrical Equipment Bay, and is used to power up aircraft systems before the APU or engines are started. It also supports some ground operations such as refueling.

The Left Static Port is one of a number of static air intake ports located around the skin of the aircraft, and detect pressure distribution changes. This data, along with other data from gyroscopic sensors and accelerometers, is fed to computer systems that help control the stability of the aircraft. As a result, the aircraft autonomously actuates the control surfaces it needs to correct its own inertial reaction to the wind gusts

The Heat Exchanger Inlet (top), and Cabin Air Compressor Inlet (bottom), with the Cabin Air Compressor Inlet having its FOD protector lowered when on the ground. Aircraft cabin air has typically been via an engine bleed system, which has an affect on the engines overall performance, thrust and fuel burn wise. The doors on these intakes are very powerful, hence the warning, "Hands Can Be Crushed Or Cut, Keep Your Hand Out Of The Door Unless Power Is Off - Can Result In Serious Injury".

The engine nacelle pylon connects the 5,816 kg GEnx-1B74/75 engine to the wing

The GEnx engine has composite fan blades with steel alloy leading edges, and the fan case is made of composite material which reduces weight and thermal expansion

The GEnx produces 63,800 lbf of thrust, and has a fan bypass ratio of 9.6:1, which also helps reduce noise. The chevrons (saw-tooth pattern) at the rear of the engine nacelle help mix the cold external air flowing around the engine, with the faster moving hot gases from the engine core and bypass fan, significantly reducing engine noise levels. The GEnx has an Axial, 2 stage high pressure turbine, 7 stage low pressure turbine, with an axial, 1 stage fan, 4 stage low pressure compressor, and 10 stage high pressure compressor.

Interesting Blue/Purple colour on the engine tail cone, which will gradually fade to a uniform colour as the engine builds up hours

The GEnx engines use an all-electrical bleedless systems, eliminating the superheated air conduits normally used for aircraft power, de-icing, and other functions

Hot Air vent on the side of the GEnx engine - "Warning Hot Air Exhaust"

GEnx Hazard Area when the engine is running - Ground Crew must be 4.6m away from the front of the engine, and more than 45 degrees off the centre line of the engine when standing behind

The Warning Notice to Engineers if they are going to open the engine cowl

The nose and main landing gear are manufactured by Safran Landing Systems

Main landing gear wheel hub and 54x21.0R23 tyre

Continuous, real-time measurement of carbon disk wear, with readings displayed in the cockpit, will help Qantas with day to day Dreamliner operations

The double bogie, four tyre main landing gear is massive, and an amazing piece of engineering. The hydraulic braking systems of previous aircraft designs has been replaced with electrically operated brakes. The Boeing B777-200LR had twelve hydraulic lines running down the main gear leg, making the braking system far more complex.

The innovative use of new materials has led to reduced weight, better corrosion resistance, and higher resistance to
fatigue versus steel parts. A number of components are made from titanium including the main gear inner cylinder, which is an industry first.

Hydraulic lines have been replaced with electric wire looms, greatly simplifying the braking system


Because electricity replaces traditional hydraulic lines, electric brakes are easier to install and maintain. The electric motors and actuators are indepentant (LRUs) and can be removed separately. The B787-9 has a five rotor configuration.

Looking up into the main landing gear wheel bay, and you can see the undercarriage lock pins in place (red tags) while it is on the ground - the lock pins are removed at the Gate before the aircraft departs

The undercarriage needs to support the weight of the aircraft as it touches down, and the landing gear connection to the wing box needs to be very strong

Looking towards the fuselage side of the main gear wheel bay

Controls for the landing gear doors are behind this panel, and would be used during aircraft maintenance

Looking forward along the Dreamliner underbelly from the main landing gear - note the deep black and white section along the centre section of the belly - this is about a metre wide. Ground air conditioning is connected to keep the cabin cool, as the APU is not running in the hangar.

Cabin pressurisation is maintained at the correct level by this outlet valve opening and closing (one on either side of the fuselage belly near the main landing gear doors). On landing and takeoff you will see this outlet fully open at about 45 degrees. As the aircraft climbs, the outlet will gradually close to maintain a cabin pressure equivalent to 6,000ft in the cruise (apologies for the slightly off focus).

The APU lithium-ion battery is located in the aft electrical equipment bay, and not only provides power to start the APU, but also powers the navigation lights


Port Mid Cabin door

Boeing Dreamliner branding is a feature on all their aircraft

The underbelly VHF R Antenna

The starboard rear cabin door in the fully open position - the pull down Crew Seat in the rear galley can be seen at left

Looking along the starboard fuselage, you can see the rear cargo door directly below

The starboard rear cargo door and control panels

Rear cargo door lock handle must be released before the door can be raised electrically

Rear cargo door control panel - Inside are the controls to open and close the rear cargo door

Rear cargo door handling control panel - inside are the controls for the moving floor rollers that load and unload cargo containers

Warning: "Hand Can Be Crushed Or Cut. Keep Your Hand Out Of The Door Unless Power Is Off, Can Result In Serious Injury"

The 787-8 uses a vacuum waste system similar to the 767 and 777. A single aft servicing panel with standard connections is used to service the system. At 430 U.S. gallons (1,628 liters), the 787 has a greater waste tank capacity than any other Boeing airplane because the drain masts have been deleted from the 787. All gray water drains into the waste tanks.

Looking along the Dreamliner fuselage from the rear of the aircraft

The APU access doors from below. Fire detector elements and fire bottle are located in the APU bay, and because the APU is only used for power generation (no pneumatic component), the unit is far less complex, and more reliable. Note the rear navigation lights on either side of the APU doors.


The APU exhaust cone is made of titanium and becomes extremely hot during operation (hence the "Hot Surface" warning). During Flight Testing, excess APU fuel was found to be pooling in the cone, and a drain hole and fairing was added to production models to correct the problem.

Looking at the APU tail cone from the port side - note the rear navigation light between the APU cone and the elevator

The tail and elevators of the beautiful Qantas B789 Dreamliner

The Dreamliner wing is not only a work of art, but an incredible aerodynamic design as well. Boeing have put a lot of effort into the design of control surface connection points and flap track fairings, to reduce drag as much as possible. The raked wing tips reduce the drag producing wing tip vortices, in much the same was as the winglets on the Boeing 738. The wing tip of the Dreamliner can flex 10ft up in the cruise, and 26ft up at 150% of the maximum wing loading.

All the control surface fairings have been designed with smooth airflow in mind. A small carbon fiber composite flaperon (extended down) is located between the inboard and outboard flaps

Close up of the carbon fiber composite flaperon

The flap track fairings are much smaller than previous designs, and very aerodynamic in shape

Port raked wingtip with navigation and strobe light (left), and aft facing strobe light (right)

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