The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner has a massive first-class cabin complete with bar, can carry 280 passengers at a time, and boasts a range so massive that New York to Singapore can be a direct flight. At 206-feet-long and 557,000 pounds, the big-bellied aircraft looks unwieldy, but the plane is surprisingly agile, a fact pilots rarely get to demonstrate. Over the weekend Boeing Test Pilots Mike Byran and Randy Neville put the hammer down on an empty Dreamliner during the annual Farnborough Airshow. The results were stunning. No, the plane doesn’t do inside loops, wingovers, or barrel rolls, but it zigs, zags, and takes off at an almost 90 degree angle.
It’s easier to forget that commercial planes – associated in the public imagination with convenience or disaster – are marvels of modern engineering. The flight captured in the video below wouldn’t be very enjoyable for anyone in coach, but serves as a reminder that aeronautical engineers are creating insanely sophisticated pieces of machinery. Maybe we won’t worry so much about turbulence.
Photos by David Goddard / Getty Images