EVERETT, Washington (By Kyle Peterson) – On a blustery and drizzly December afternoon in the Pacific Northwest, about 20 airplanes sat engineless and inert near the runway at a Boeing manufacturing plant. Huge, yellow blocks hung from the wings of some planes to substitute for the weight of absent engines.
Every few minutes, the heavy clouds parted to give a glimpse of blue skies over Everett, Washington, just north of Seattle. Then new clouds rolled in.
The parked planes are 787-8 Dreamliners, the world’s first commercial aircraft with a body and wings made largely of lightweight carbon-composite materials instead of aluminum. Someday these sleek, fuel-efficient machines — already painted in the liveries of their airline customers — may change the face of air travel and plane-making.