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With the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions coming to an end, many people are preparing to take to the skies once again for global travel. However, concerns about fuel shortages, environmental preservation, and post-pandemic economic challenges have intensified the demand for lighter, cleaner aircraft that can efficiently satisfy our wanderlust. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is one such aircraft that meets these demands.

Developed by Boeing between 2003 and 2009, the 787 Dreamliner is a family of wide-body, long-haul airliners that features a higher proportion of composite materials in its design compared to other commercial aircraft. Despite being smaller in size, with a passenger capacity of 200-300, the Dreamliner is a highly efficient and flexible plane that outperforms many larger aircraft.

Recognizable by its four-window cockpit, lowered nose, raked wingtips, and engine nacelle chevrons that minimize noise, the Dreamliner boasts unique electro-thermal ice protection systems and TVS diode clamp devices that protect its complex electrical circuitry. For more information about these innovative features, learn about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner's cutting-edge technology.

It’s list of innovations include:

  • Emphasis on fuel efficiency: 21% less fuel burn than previous airliners
  • Shift from "hub-and-spoke" travel to "point-to-point," allowing passengers to travel routes up to 8,500 nmi
  • First airliner with an airframe primarily made of composite materials
  • Extensive use of complex, innovative electrical systems
  • Completely new cockpit design to help pilots work more efficiently and safely
  • Automated flight-stabilization for turbulence – new for civilian airliners
  • Powered completely by stored battery power (in the same way as Tesla cars)
  • Power system has 7 generators at once
  • Modernized Lithium ion technology simplifies maintenance and increases efficiency of the power system
  • New IT system and ethernet system increase data transmission.

 

The main characteristic of the power system is its brand new electric architecture, which allows for simplified hydraulics due to the electrical system's active capacity of almost 1.5 megawatts, utilized in system stabilizers, engine start systems, and brakes.

Upon its release, the aircraft set a commercial airliner record for pre-orders, with 677 units ordered by the time of the first plane's roll-out and inspection.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner's arrival caused a commotion, with an auction held to secure a seat on the inaugural flight. One ticket was sold for a staggering $34,000, the highest price paid.

Furthermore, the Dreamliner set the fuel length and distance record in its class at the time, flying a remarkable 10,710 miles.

 The Dreamliner’s Unique Electro-Thermal Wing De-Icing System

Just one of the many innovations onboard the Dreamliner is the unique electro-thermal wing de-icing system from Ultra Electronics.

What makes this new system so unique?

In the past, large commercial airliners relied on engine bleed air systems to propagate cabin pressure systems, cabin climate control, ice protection and wing anti-icing.

Typically, bleed air systems are overly complex and highly inefficient. What’s more is that these systems add significant weight – and unnecessary weight affects the plane’s overall fuel efficiency.

Now, with the Dreamliner’s evolved system to rely more on electricity than ever before, engineers are working with bleedless engines that require a new generation of structures, systems, and aerodynamics to suit.

The revolutionary electro-thermal wing de-icing system that provides centralized power control and switching and has two operating modes.

In de-icing mode, heat is applied in short bursts across critical zones to remove any ice.

During normal flight, the system is in anti-icing mode. In this mode, each zone is heated at lower power level, ensuring all protected areas remain free of ice.

Being able to switch back and forth between modes as needed increases efficiency and reduces operating costs.

Optimized IPS Power Switching Technology allows for

  • Built in segregated architecture
  • Dual IPS control lanes
  • Independent operation
  • Built in redundancy

And the unique heat mat arrangement includes:

  • Controlled power distribution to protected areas
  • Temperature sensors for heat intensity controls
  • Independent zoning maximizes power optimization
  • Auto power switching and intensity to match individual aircraft requirements

 

Protecting the Protector: The MDE Semiconductor, Inc. Diode Clamp Circuit Devices Going Along for the Ride

 

The unique electro-thermal ice protection systems onboard the Boeing 787 Dreamliner call for a more complex electrical circuitry system than before. You see, the ice protection system operates simultaneously on both port and starboard sides to maintains symmetrical ice protection by regulating the switching of the zone controllers.

The aircraft 235VAC 3 phase power supply is switched by the Wing Icing Protection Control Unit (WIPCU).

The WIPCU controls the power to the eight (8) heated slats – four (4) on each wing.

There are three types of electronic circuit board in the WIPCU: n

  • PS -Power Supply (1 per WIPCU) which conditions and distributes the dual 28VDC power to the Zone Controller and Sequence Controller.
  • SC- Sequence Controller (1 per WIPCU) maintains the symmetrical ice protection for the aircraft controlling the switching of the Zone Controllers
  • ZC – Zone Controller (24 per WIPCU) which controls the power switching to the different Heater Mat zones.

 

Due to the complex electrical and data networks microprocessors are connected to, the risk of electrical transients always exists. These unpredictable events can be induced by natural occurrences like lightning or propagate from external terminals. If the electrical anomalies are energetic enough, they can result in equipment failure or destruction. This is particularly concerning as ice protection systems play a crucial role during flights in bad weather. Any such occurrences could have disastrous consequences.

High integrity and performance were critical in the design and construction of the WIPCU which incorporates four devices from our High Current TVS Diode catalog: MAX-100, MAX-42230KW60CA, and 20KP30CA. All four protective TVS Diodes are bidirectional and offer the flexibility of mounting in any position.

The MDE Semiconductor, Inc. devices act as a diode clamp that can withstand electrically fast transients.

The MAX-100 and MAX-422 are high current Transient Voltage Suppressors with a surge capacity of 10KA and 8kA (8 x 20 µsec waveform) respectively. With an operating temperature ranging from -40°C to 125°C, they exhibit fast response times of less than a microsecond from 0 V to breakdown voltage.

The 30KW60CA and 20KPA30CA TVS Diodes offer power and noise immunity in a tiny package and offering minimum peak pulse power ratings of 30 kW and 20kW at 10/1000 microseconds respectively. They can both operate in much harsher temperature conditions -55 to 175 °C.

 

Explore TVS Diode (diode clamp) datasheets and product listings from MDE Semiconductor, Inc. here.

 

 

 

References:

https://www.ultra-pcs.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Brochure-B787-Wing-Ice-Protection-Control-Unit-Replaceable-Cards.pdf

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/a31788041/passenger-flight-record/#:~:text=we test gear.-,In the Middle of a Pandemic, a Boeing 787 Breaks,both length and distance records.&text=A direct flight from Tahiti,taken the passenger flight record.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16ivOV_4oJc