Boeing has been taking orders for the most anticipated wide bodied jet of all time since 2004, amassing a total of 859 orders, so why has it only managed to deliver 14 so far. Although by the end of 2012 it is anticipated it will be producing 10 units per month, the waiting list will still be between 5 and 10 years. So why is the jet so desired? Well not only does it use 20% less fuel than a 767, desirable enough in today’s harsh economic environment and pressure to cut carbon emissions, but each and every seat is fitted with an Android powered entertainment system.
The manufacturer is offering two options, the Thales TopSeries Avant and the Panasonic eX3. Little is known about the details of the eX3, but the recently delivered 787 Dreamliner acquired by Qatar Airways was demonstrated at the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK this week and that gave us a glimpse of the Thales IEFC option.
The business class seats in the Qatar Airways 787 are fitted with 17 inch touchscreen IEFC’s, with 10 inch versions available in economy class. Each IEFC has a STMicro dual-core ARM processor, 1GB of RAM and a whopping 256GB SSD. There is a main server, which features 32×86 cores (quad-CPU Xeon or Opteron), 128GB of RAM and a further 4TB of SSD storage. As an added option, the Avant can be equipped with a pull-out Android handset, thought to be for Android apps not suited to the larger screen.
At this stage, details are scant on the software, other than both the Thales and Panasonic options will run a customised version of Android, possibly Android 2.3 or 3.0.
Altogether, the Dreamliner demonstrated has 508 ARM cores, 32×86 cores, 382GB of RAM and 69 terabytes of solid state storage. It is no surprised that the jets will be fitted with WiFi and a 3G GSM, which will be used to bounce phone calls and data between satellites and ground. It is thought passengers can make normal calls on their cell phones during normal flight time.
Other key features of the 787 include an award winning iTouch control unit, over 1,000 movies, programming and audio entertainment options, an iPort, USB port, remote data outlet and plenty of storage space for personal items.
As well as the attraction these systems will have for passengers, the TopSeries Avant is 80% lighter than other IEFC solutions currently available. Since this drives a better fuel economy for the jet, it is estimated, based on two flights a day, a saving of 528 gallons of jet fuel would be made, approximately $1.48m.Combined with this and that the jet is made of composite materials rather than aluminium, the 787 can achieve a 20% saving on fuel as compared to the similar sized Boeing 767.
However, whilst frequent fliers are getting excited, remember, only 14 have been so far delivered, so it is going to be a long while before many passengers get to see these jets and their advanced entertainment systems in action. Rest assured this is pretty much certain that Android has changed the experience of traveling in air altogether.