VC10er
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The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sat Apr 16, 2016 1:22 pm

Hello all,

I vaguely recall this being discussed years ago that when the final 787 shape was unveiled, we were all disappointed when it didn't look as much like the original renderings, which looked a bit more like the "Bat Plane" than a 767. The rendering I saw sported an ANA livery.
https://qph.is.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-e9fed2323fb50190a219714e50d32c91?convert_to_webp=true


I recently saw those original drawings and the thought I had was: DID Boeing unveil those drawings knowing full well that the shark fin, swept back tail (vertical stabilizer), pointed nose and "V" shaped flight deck windshield we never going to be implemented? That their brilliant and experienced team of airplane designers knew in advance that that shape wasn't viable... and that it was done merely to make the Dreamliner look new, sexy, sleek and futuristic, when in fact it wouldn't be all that different than a 767/777 in reality? OR, to be less cynical, the original rendering was indeed created with the intent of showing what Boeing truly believed was going to be the new aerodynamic shape of the Dreamliner?

While I would have preferred the Dreamliner to look like the original drawings, I still love her look in reality, but I can't help but wonder if the original was drawn just to drum up excitement while all along they knew that shape was unrealistic.
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Stitch
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sat Apr 16, 2016 1:26 pm

One imagines Boeing had performed at least basic wind tunnel and CFD modeling of the design as originally unveiled, so it stands to reason that they felt the designs were viable, but after further definition, the as-built design proved to be superior.
 
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DexSwart
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sat Apr 16, 2016 1:57 pm

I'm not going to lie, I think that rendering is the ugliest thing I've seen in a long time.

That tail is all sorts of wrong with its angles and fat looking fuselage. The wings don't scream 787, more A350 tbh.

I'm perfectly happy with how the 787 turned out, such a pretty aircraft. So, so, pretty.

I think that shape may have come up. Looks more like one of their "in the future..." videos.

Either way, great question.
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B777LRF
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sat Apr 16, 2016 3:12 pm

Short of the long: It cost more to produce than a 'traditional' tail, and since Boeing moved to Chicago under the management of MBAs wielding razor sharp excel spreadsheets, no expense has been spared in the quest to lower cost.
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CALTECH
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sat Apr 16, 2016 4:04 pm

Quoting VC10er (Thread starter):
but I can't help but wonder if the original was drawn just to drum up excitement while all along they knew that shape was unrealistic.
Quoting Stitch (Reply 1):
the as-built design proved to be superior.

What I heard from Boeing Reps, was that the Shark fin would cost way more than the design that is now on the 787.
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ikramerica
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:11 pm

Yep. Why do you think most houses are boxy and uninteresting? Because it costs more to be interesting, and ultimately unless you are building a luxury/bro/one of a kind product, you don't get your costs back when you sell interesting. That's true on the new but especially the resale markers.
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VC10er
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sat Apr 16, 2016 5:26 pm

Ok, I get it would have cost more, perhaps a lot more, but had the design shown performance benefits considerably better than the current end results, I would assume that those higher costs would have been offset by even more orders on a frame that Boeing could charge even more for. I don't think Boeing is stupid, I am sure that they did the right thing in the end and avoided a frivolous act of making something look futuristic just for the sake of appearances.

That said, it's pretty darn far off from the original drawings. Although I have ZERO complaints about the look of a current 787, and love flying on one too.

Also, I do not think Airbus is stupid either. I am sure that their aircraft designers would have seen that the images were more cosmetics than technically aerodynamically superior, and would have shouted out so upon sight. (perhaps they did, I don't recall)

The only thing I recall Airbus saying was "Just a nicer 767".
To Most the Sky is The Limit, For me, the Sky is Home.
 
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Polot
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sat Apr 16, 2016 6:53 pm

The very first 7E7 looked actually just like a shrunken 777. Then they upped the sex appeal with the "shark fin" design (while also introducing their now current house livery/motif) before settling on the current design.
 
AA737-823
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sat Apr 16, 2016 7:18 pm

Quoting VC10er (Reply 6):
but had the design shown performance benefits considerably better than the current end results, I would assume that those higher costs would have been offset by even more orders on a frame that Boeing could charge even more for.

Therein lies the problem: the swoopy design (more on that later) DOESN'T accomplish anything useful, because it WEIGHS MORE. Any miniscule performance gains are offset by extra weight.
Of course, I'm speaking to the tail design here. I have no idea why the cockpit windshield ended up the way it did, other than nose shape. When you stretch out the nose as was originally depicted, you create a lot of extra cabin volume forward of the rudder pedals. And what exactly do you put there? Nothing. It's fly by wire. So nothing.

Now, as to my opinion for the overall 787 design process:
The entire airplane was designed and sold by the marketing department. They came up with these sexy renderings, promises of designing it, building it, certifying it, and delivering it in about a two year time frame, and over the top promises for onboard experience.
Engineers would never have made such rubbish claims and promises.
Then, reality set in, and the billion dollar losses started to pile up. As did the consequences of poor planning and outsourcing far too much of their control.
All of that added up to the worst executed commercial aircraft development process up to that time.

So, in summary, I don't think BAC particularly cared, at the time those renderings were released. They were saying, "Hey, look what we can do!" whether it was reasonable or not.
 
spahrtan
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 2:38 am

I view the early 7E7 renderings on the same level as I view concept cars. Flashy and attention grabbing, but the final form will always be toned down.
 
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DocLightning
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 2:43 am

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 8):

Therein lies the problem: the swoopy design (more on that later) DOESN'T accomplish anything useful, because it WEIGHS MORE. Any miniscule performance gains are offset by extra weight.
Of course, I'm speaking to the tail design here. I have no idea why the cockpit windshield ended up the way it did, other than nose shape. When you stretch out the nose as was originally depicted, you create a lot of extra cabin volume forward of the rudder pedals. And what exactly do you put there? Nothing. It's fly by wire. So nothing.

From a purely aerodynamic standpoint is a single ideal shape for a transsonic nose (or rather a series of them, called the Haack Series). However, an airliner nose has other considerations than drag alone. There is pilot visibility, probe and sensor placement, cockpit noise mediation, and location of the landing gear. A Haack-shaped nosecone will be almost as efficient if it is slightly offset. The windows are curved, unlike prior Boeing designs that took a small drag penalty in exchange for ease of manufacture.
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atypical
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 6:16 am

Quoting ikramerica (Reply 5):
Because it costs more to be interesting

Not always.

Shipping container homes.
Smart Car.
Icon A5.
IKEA.

All are or can have interesting design (not everyone likes, but taste and interesting design are different) and all are considered very affordable within their respective classes (homes, cars aircraft, furniture). Interesting design is not a function of money spent. I will bet that most people cans spot something expensive rather badly designed on a daily basis. Good or bad design that starts to impact engineering will increase costs.

The only reason I am mentioning this is because your statement I believe is sincere and some people (not implying you) use simple, believeable statements like this to set unnecessary (and somewhat unconcious becasuse they never really get challenged) limitations.
 
CaptainKramer
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:27 am

Air and Space magazine, published an article in Sept 2007, that can be found online. Titled : "How Boeing put the Dream in the Dreamliner."

It goes into detail about the whole initial design phase, prior to the engineers getting involved, including Boeing's hiring of a "Cultural Guru", Clotaire Rapaille. Interesting read.

[Edited 2016-04-17 00:28:51]
 
WIederling
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:49 am

Quoting CaptainKramer (Reply 12):

IMHO the problem with these making of documentaries ( be it visual or readable ) is that they regularly are more about telling a good story than about what actually happened.
Same for explaining advantages of technical design or buyer decissions. ( why barrels, why not more span, flashy interiors, ...)
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jmchevallier
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:59 am

We should remember that this Dreamliner initial design phase came just after 2 years of Boeing promoting the absurd Sonic Cruiser concept !
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ikramerica
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 4:44 pm

Quoting atypical (Reply 11):

Smart Car is ridiculously expensive for what it is. You can get many better cars with more interior space for less money.
IKEA has no quality. They keep costs down by using inferior materials. If you built an airplane using ikea materials you'd be in trouble.
Shipping container houses are recycled and don't meet code unless without variances. Are you suggesting we could slap a shark tail and new engines on repurposed 707 fuselages and that would be meaningful.
What's an icon A5?
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atypical
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 5:06 pm

Quoting ikramerica (Reply 16):
Are you suggesting we could slap a shark tail and new engines on repurposed 707 fuselages and that would be meaningful.

I actually wrote what I was suggesting. It is pretty obvious by this response you stopped reading when you reached the end of the list.
 
VC10er
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:05 pm

I think the 787 and the A350 are absolutely beautiful, and the 747-8i (for me it's the only time an old frame was really made to look fresh again, I know many disagree)

For me, as much as I want to see a "concept" aircraft fly, I also want it to be as safe as all the current A & B products currently are. I would just have assumed the same "drool factor" that happens with concept cars just wouldn't happen in aviation (unless it's some of the single or double passenger jet concepts)

Also, as much as the general population may look at a concept drawing and think "wow, that is cool, that is the future", and then think that Boeing or Airbus has the technology edge, I cannot imagine fleet managers for airlines would be fooled for a second by an aircraft's new sleek lines (right?).

Didn't the folding wing for the 777-9 cause enough concern about passengers not being comfortable seeing a wing fold? I recall many people thinking the A380 was just too many humans on ONE aircraft.

So, what did the airlines say about that initial 7E7 drawing?
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RayChuang
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:16 pm

Interestingly, the final 787 design came out to something more akin to the conservative-looking 7E7 design studies done circa 2000-2002--that "shark fin" vertical tail became a non-starter for aerodynamic stability reasons, probably because of the potential for causing Dutch roll instability. That's why the 787 vertical tail came out taller and more conventional looking, just like what Boeing did when the 707's were eventually built (and many retrofitted) with taller vertical tails.
 
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CALTECH
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:22 pm

Ran across this,

"The issue with the Boeing 787 concept shark-tail was a mechanical problem. The rudder must be able to sweep across a certain radius and the base of the trailing edge of the vertical fin interfered with that sweep, so the concept was scrapped."
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Sun Apr 17, 2016 11:10 pm

 
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kanban
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RE: The 787 "Shark Fin" Vertical Stabilizer?

Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:27 am

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 3):
Short of the long: It cost more to produce than a 'traditional' tail, and since Boeing moved to Chicago under the management of MBAs wielding razor sharp excel spreadsheets, no expense has been spared in the quest to lower cost.

The first part about cost is true, the comment about the headquarters move really has zero to do with manufacturing cost and feasibility decisions.. those decisions were made by the Commercial Airplane Company which is still located in Renton WA. Yes I blame some of the company's troubles on the MBA 'can do' mentality, however that started well before the Chicago move and during my 35 year tenure cost reduction, simplified manufacturing process investigation, and frequent feasibility studies were the norm.

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