Boeing’s latest clean-sheet design, the 787, flew for the first time in 2009 and entered into commercial service in 2011 with Japan’s ANA. Since then, three variants of increasing length were introduced into service – 787-8, 787-9, and 787-10. While the shortest one of those is close in capacity to the 767, the longest one of those is more similar to the 777-200.
While I will dive into the details of each of the variants below, overall, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner family includes aircraft with specs in the following ranges:
- Length: 186 ft 1 in – 224 ft 1 in (56.72 – 68.30 m)
- Height: 55 ft 6 in – 55 ft 10 in (16.92 – 17.02 m)
- Wingspan: 197 ft 3 in (60.12 m)
- Cabin width: 18ft 10 in (5.74 m)
- Maximum design taxi weight: 503,500 – 563,000 lbs (228,383 – 255,372 kg)
- Maximum design take-off weight:502,500 – 561,500 lbs (227,930 – 254,692 kg)
- Maximum design landing weight: 380,000 – 445,000 lbs (172,365 – 201,848 kg)
- Range:8,300 – 7,020 nmi (15,372 –13,000 km)
- Usable fuel:33,340 gals – 33,399 gals (126,206 l – 126,429 l)
- Exit limit: 381 – 440 passengers
Boeing 787 Dimensions
While the 787 variants share most of their basic dimensions, there are some discrepancies – most notably in the length. After all, that’s the one dimension that really sets the three variants apart.
At 186 ft 1 in (56.72 m), the very first variant to enter into service, the Boeing 787-8 was also the shortest one.
The second variant to enter into service, the 787-9 had two 10-foot extensions added – one in the front half of the aircraft and another one in the rear half. With that, the 787-9 is 206 ft 1 in (62.81 m) long.
Lastly, Boeing added a further 10-foot extension in front of the wing and an 8-foot extension behind it to create the 787-10. This longest variant of the Dreamliner measures 224 ft 1 in (68.30 m).
As is usual with families of closely related aircraft, all three Boeing 787 variants are roughly the same height.
That said, there is a very slight difference between the height of the 787-8 and that of the 787-9 and 787-10. While the original variant measures 55 ft 6 in (16.92 m) from the ground to the top of its tail, the latter two variants are 55 ft 10 in (17.02 m) high.
Unlike the Boeing 767, for example, all of the 787s feature essentially the same wing – i.e. there are no optional wingtip devices like winglets for the 787. Instead, all of the variants have wings with raked wingtips.
As such, all 787s – regardless of the variant and specific airframe – have the exact same wingspan of 197 ft 3 in (60.12 m).
As they share the same fuselage design, all three 787 variants have the same cabin width of 18ft 10 in (5.74 m).
In practice, this allows airlines to configure their economy class cabins in either a 2-4-2 or a 3-3-3 configuration. Squeezing in an extra seat per row, the latter is, of course, much more common. In business class, the seating is typically either 2-2-2 or 1-2-1 depending on the type of seats an airline uses.
Boeing 787 Weight
Below, we will look at the following weights of the 787:
- Maximum design taxi weight (MTW): The maximum weight the aircraft can be when moving around an airport. This is the highest weight at which the aircraft can be operated at all (even though it cannot take-off at this weight).
- Maximum design take-off weight (MTOW): The maximum weight the aircraft can be at the start of a take-off run.
- Maximum design landing weight (MLW): The maximum weight the aircraft can be when it touches down on a runway.
There are two engine options for the 787 – GE and Rolls-Royce. That said, unlike with some other types where design weight limits differ based on the engine, each of the 787 variants shares its design weight limits between the two engine options.
Starting with MTOW, the shortest 787-8 can be as heavy as 502,500 lbs (227,930 kg) when starting its take-off roll. Interestingly, while the 787-9 is smaller than the 787-10, the former’s MTOW is greater – 561,500 lbs (254,692 kg). The MTOW of the longest variant – 787-10 – is 560,000 lbs (254,011 kg).
The MTW of each of the variants has to account for the fuel required for taxiing around an airport. As such, it is 1,000 lbs higher than MTOW for the 787-8 and 1,500 lbs higher than MTOW for the 787-9 and 787-10.
Lastly, since fuselage and other hardware weight make up a bigger percentage of MLW than it does of the MTOW, the three variants’ MLWs increase as the fuselage length increases. The shortest 787-8 has an MLW of 380,000 lbs (172,365 kg), the 787-9 has an MLW of 425,000 lbs (192,776 kg), and the longest 787-10 has an MLW of 445,000 lbs (201,848 kg).
Boeing 787 Range
The actual range of an aircraft depends on a variety of factors including the engines it is equipped with, its payload (i.e. the heavier the payload, the more fuel is burned), the required reserve fuel, and rules about how far an aircraft can be from its nearest diversion point. That said, Boeing does provide reference ranges for each of the 787 variants.
Trading off range for capacity, the longest variant – 787-10 – has the shortest range. Boeing’s 787-10 Fact Sheet lists it at 7,020 nmi (13,000 km). The shortest 787-8 has a 7,850 nmi (14,500 km) range. Interestingly, at 8,300 nmi (15,372 km), the 787-9 has the longest stated range of the three variants.
All three variants have enough range to cover some of the longest routes in the world and can be seen on countless trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights. According to Boeing, even the shortest range 787-10 can cover “more than 90 percent of
the world’s twin-aisle routes .”
Boeing 787 Usable Fuel
Each of the 787 variants can carry roughly 33,400 US gallons of usable fuel (i.e. the fuel that can be burned on a trip rather than all of the fuel in the aircraft including fuel that “stays in the system”).
More precisely, while the 787-8 can carry up to 33,340 gallons of usable fuel, the 787-9 and 787-10 can both carry up to 33,399 gallons.
Boeing 787 Capacity
One way to look at the capacity of an aircraft is by looking at its exit limit – the theoretically highest number of passengers that a type is certified for (i.e. the number of passengers that could evacuate the aircraft in a timely manner). The FAA exit limits of the three 787 variants are as follows:
- 787-8: 381 passengers
- 787-9: 420 passengers
- 787-10: 440 passengers
That said, aircraft are typically configured less dense than their exit limit. That’s either due to better seat pitch in economy class or the presence of first and business class cabins among other things. Boeing’s reference two-class seating capacity for the 787-8 is 242 seats; for the 787-9 it’s 290 seats and for the 787-10 330 seats.
In practice, the seating configurations – and thus passenger capacity – of the 787 can vary considerably between airlines. In fact, they can vary even within the same airline.
For example, Japan’s ANA has 787-8s in four different configurations seating 169, 184, 240, and 335 passengers respectively. Its 787-9s come in four configurations as well – two international ones with 215 and 246 seats and two domestic ones with 375 and 395 seats. Its 787-10s are equipped with 294 seats.
As you can see, all of those numbers are considerably below each type’s exit limit. The international configurations which feature more and larger premium seats are considerably less dense than the domestic configurations which have capacities closer to the respective variants’ exit limits.
Being essentially the same aircraft and offering no options when it comes to winglets and other such devices, all three 787 variants share their fuselage width and wingspan, and their height is roughly the same.
That said, that’s where the similarities end – the three are considerably different in their other specs including capacity and range, making each variant suitable for different missions.