Just a couple of weeks ago, we all marveled as the space shuttle Discovery circled the Washington, DC, region before arriving at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center. There, the shuttle will be celebrated by millions of visitors for the technological milestones it set and for the important service it provided.
Today, the DC area was visited by another winged celebrity, the 787 Dreamliner, which landed for the first time at Reagan National Airport.
Photo courtesy www.arlnow.com
And, just as the Discovery once did, the Dreamliner 787 ushers in the future, having already won the Collier Trophy awarded by the National Aeronautic Association in recognition of the greatest achievement in Aeronautics or Astronautics in America.
The 787 is a medium-size, commercial airplane and is the world's first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction. That construction--plus advanced engine technology--means the Dreamliner will be 20 percent more fuel-efficient than existing aircraft of comparable size and service.
It will also produce less noise and incorporate many capabilities of the Federal Aviation Administration's NextGen air transportation system.
As FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said, "The Dreamliner is an incredible technological achievement—one that sets a new standard for innovation on many levels."
But what really makes the 787 so special is what it says about America. This plane reflects decades of creativity, innovation and hard work. It’s a tribute to our technical know-how. Most of all, it continues our tradition of dreaming big dreams and building great things.
Wilbur Wright once said that it may be possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill. The 787 is proof that America still has the knowledge and skill that put the first plane in the sky near Kitty Hawk and planted the Stars and Stripes on the moon.
Aviation is vital to America. It pumps $1.3 trillion into our economy and supports 10 million jobs. As this plane joins fleets here and around the world, it will become a real job-producer and yet another strong example of what it means to be “Made In America.”
And that’s going to help the United States meet President Obama’s goal of doubling our exports within five years. In fact, the first Dreamliner was delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airways in September 2011 and entered commercial service last October.
So my thanks to everyone at Boeing who had a hand in designing, building and assembling this plane. Thanks for dreaming big and building big. And thanks to the FAA employees who have been working full-time to ensure the safety of the 787 since 2004.
All of you have helped carry us boldly into the future along what Wilbur Wright called “the infinite highway of the air.”