Boeing 787 to undergo FAA review. Is electrical power at fault?
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That means the Dreamliner is 20 percent more fuel efficient and produces 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes, according to Boeing.
It's an important step toward fuel efficiency for an industry whose energy consumption in the United States is expected to grow to 3.1 quadrillion British thermal units in 2035, up 14 percent from what it consumed in 2008, the US Energy Information Administration projects. Air travel will make up 2.7 percent of the total projected US energy consumption in 2035, the agency adds.
The question now is, will winged batteries fly? After all, it was the newfangled electrical battery that burned in the empty Japan Airlines 787.
"I believe [the 787] is safe and I would have absolutely no reservations about boarding one of these planes and taking a flight," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a press conference Friday.
Electric cars have had their fair share of starts and stops. But sales jumped in 2012 and the electric Tesla Model S took home the Motor Trend Car of the Year, the automotive industry's premier prize. Advocates hope the energy efficiency promised by electric cars will translate to air travel.
Boeing hopes so. In the 787, the company has developed the closest thing we have to a Chevy Volt of the skies.