Boeing 787 10th AnniversaryBoeing 787 10th Anniversary


787 is still the most advanced, leading aircraft in service and still growing

We interviewed Osamu Shinobe, Senior Advisor of ANA HOLDINGS, who has been deeply involved in the selection, launch, and operations of the 787 since its launch.

Ten years have passed since the first 787 was received. Please tell us your thoughts and feelings.

"Being a launch customer was a tremendous challenge," said Mr. Shinobe. The delivery date of a new aircraft is usually fixed, but was delayed for more than three years from the first scheduled delivery date (2008), which was a big shock for Boeing. The benefit of being a launch customer is that we can proceed with discussions in a tripod with the aircraft manufacturer, and ANA's opinions can be greatly reflected in the basic specifications. Until then, the aircraft had to have various devices and equipment changed to ANA specifications before being introduced, which required a lot of time and effort. However, behind the benefits of being able to change the basic specifications to ANA's specifications, there was an extraordinary amount of hard work involved.

Selection of 787 as the new model, launch, and delivery of the first aircraft
Originally, ANA chose 787 because it is a fuel-efficient airplane that can fly long distances, and wanted to introduce it on domestic flights as well, so we had two options in preparation: one for international flights and one for domestic flights.
At the time of the model selection, Mr. Shinobe was involved as the technical manager of the maintenance center. In the end, the 787-3, which had been considered for development as a domestic aircraft, was not manufactured, but Mr. Shinobe said of the 787-8 and 787-9, which can be used for medium- to long-haul flights, "Ten years have passed, and they have become a major asset. I think it was a good decision to choose these aircraft." Not many people know about the 787-3 anymore, but this process may have been one of the most meaningful ones.

Developing a new system to be used in 787 was a big challenge.
"The system is completely different. The pneumatic system, which extracts compressed air from the engine for use in the aircraft, has been abandoned in favor of an electrically operated system. This was done in order to improve the reliability of the equipment and systems based on the past experience with the aircraft, but many wondered if it was safe. However, there were many who wondered if the system was safe. This was a challenge for us as a launch customer. For example, the landing gear brake (braking system) was changed from hydraulic operation to electric operation. It was a very different airplane from the one we had before. It looked the same and was a beautiful aircraft, but it was a completely different aircraft inside."

The electric shades on the cabin windows were a challenge as well, as 787 cabin windows do not have shades that can actually be opened or closed, but are controlled by cabin attendants on the control panel, or by a switch under the window that can be pressed to dim them. After the actual flights started, some passengers asked, "Isn't it a little bright?". It took us about two years, but we kept improving it. 787 is an aircraft that has been continuously improved and challenged to enhance its reliability and comfort.

Electric shades on the cabin windows

July 8, 2007 marked the day of 787 rollout ceremony, the first time the aircraft was unveiled. At the time, Mr. Shinobe participated in the ceremony as an executive officer in charge of Corporate Planning. He was surprised not only by the magnificence of the ceremony held at the Boeing factory in Everett, U.S.A., but also by the fact that he had to be measured for a tuxedo when he arrived there to participate in the ceremony. He also told us some stories behind the scenes like how Japanese people were not used to wearing tuxedos.

First 787 arrived in Japan

Initially, ANA had planned to charter a 787 to support the transportation of the athletes to the Beijing Olympics 2008, but the actual development of the aircraft was delayed significantly, and unfortunately it was not ready in time for the Beijing Olympics.

A ceremony to celebrate the delivery of the first aircraft was eventually held in September 2011.

Back to the story of the ceremony, even during the ceremony, Mr. Shinobe and the others concerned could not stop thinking about the future. "Isn't there something more we should be doing? Will this really be enough?" They felt that it would be a long time before they could be relieved.

The 787's high level of comfort. The toilet is equipped with a bidet for the first time on a 787…

The "selling point" of the new 787 aircraft is that the humidity and air pressure in the cabin are close to those on the ground, greatly improving comfort. In business class, full-flat seats with direct aisle access were introduced from the beginning on long-haul aircraft, and the 787 also features washlet toilets in the lavatories.

"When I flew back to Japan on the first plane, I said to myself, 'I will be the first person in the world to use a bidet on a 787!' ", Mr. Shinobe had secretly planned to do so. As soon as he came out of the lavatory, he told a certain executive officer who was on the same flight with him, to which the officer replied, "I did it just now, sir..." "What, you're the world's first?", Mr. Shinobe was not expecting to be the one to beat him to the punch. "I became the second in the world (laughs)."

Mr. Shinobe, looking back on those days, said, "I made a very comfortable airplane and brought it to the market," while facing repeated development delays.

787 in service
Since the start of operations on November 1, 2011, the vessel has experienced a series of troubles, including initial breakdowns.
engine failure, and battery problems. When a malfunction occurs, we cannot fly the aircraft unless we have an explanation for the customer and also the consent of the crew who actually fly the aircraft. Each time a problem occurred, we faced the safety issue, had repeated discussions with Boeing, and continued our efforts to improve reliability.

What do you like about the 787?
I guess it's the beautiful shape of the big wings."
The wings of the 787, which look especially beautiful when flying, can be said to be its best feature. As those of you with a science background will know, the curves and the curvature are Mr. Shinobe's favorite.

How should we move forward with the 787 for the next 10 years?
I am looking forward to seeing how this state-of-the-art airplane, which is still growing, will lead to the next generation of airplanes," said Mr. Shinobe. He also imagined that in the future, we will be able to see 787 cargo planes, similar to the development of the 777.

What does 787 mean to you, Mr. Shinobe?
The 787 is still state-of-the-art, still the workhorse of the active fleet, and I suspect it will continue to grow."

Airplanes have a long life span and evolve. Like other models, it is one of the backbones of the ANA Group, partly because it is the main model for the group. I had a lot of hardships, but I happened to be able to be involved with this aircraft from the selection of the model, so they say 'the worse the child is made, the cuter he is.' Anyway, I feel that it has become the ANA Group's mainstay aircraft because of the hardships it has endured in various places and the fertilizer that it has produced. So, isn't it a good plane?" Mr. Shinobe, smiling a little shyly, is without a doubt a legend in the history of ANA's 787.

Senior Advisor of ANA HOLDINGS

Joined All Nippon Airways in 1976. After working in the Maintenance Division, Equipment Plant Hydraulic Section, Engineering Department, Quality Assurance Department, and Deputy General Manager of Sales Promotion Division, he served as the project manager for the introduction of the Boeing 787 as the officer in charge of planning from April 2007. He later served as General Manager of the Maintenance Division, Managing Director, and Vice President, before becoming President and Representative Director in April 2013, Vice Chairman of the Board of ANA Holdings, Inc. in April 2017, and current President and Representative Director from April 2019.

Back to Top Page