How The Boeing 787 Got The Name ‘Dreamliner’

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The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a vital part of today’s aviation industry. However, the aircraft almost had an entirely different name, thanks to the process that Boeing used to choose the name Dreamliner.

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Did you know the Boeing 787 was almost called the Global Cruiser? Photo: Boeing

Most aircraft these days are simply identified by a number. Take Airbus’ double-decker aircraft. It’s officially known as the Airbus A380. However, it has also acquired the nickname “the giant of the skies.” Likewise, the Boeing 747 has come to be known as the queen of the skies. With the Boeing 787, the American aerospace manufacturer opted to give the aircraft its name from the get-go.

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A global competition

Almost every major design decision of an aircraft is made by the company building it, perhaps with some input from prominent customers. However, in the case of the Dreamliner, Boeing allowed an outside entity to name the aircraft. Anybody interested was invited to vote for their favorite name.

Boeing ran the competition to name what was then called the 7E7 in the first half of 2003. The US aerospace giant teamed up with AOL Time Warner to launch the concept on May 5th. Rather than having the public suggest names like “Planey McPlaneFace,” the competition saw four names put to the public vote. These were:

  • Dreamliner
  • Global Cruiser
  • Stratoclimber
  • eLiner
Boeing, 787, Dreamliner name
The aircraft’s name was chosen with a competition. Photo: Boeing

Almost named differently

According to Randy’s Journal, Boeing’s blog written by Randy Tinseth, many of the names suggested for the 787 didn’t make it past the company’s legal and trademark teams. However, the above four did.

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The name Global Cruiser was the most popular choice within Boeing, and may well have been chosen had the public not been involved. Randy remarks that if the competition had been held only in the United States, the name Global Cruiser would’ve been picked for the aircraft. That name was still in the lead by May 29th.

However, this wasn’t the case, and Dreamliner went on to win the competition with a lead of just 2,500 votes. In total, around half a million people from 160 different countries voted to name the plane.

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Boeing announced the winning name at the 2003 Paris Air Show. Photo: Boeing

Boeing didn’t announce the successful result as soon as the polls closed on June 3rd. Instead, the company kept the public in suspense. The grand reveal was saved for one of the main aviation events of the year, the Paris Air Show.

At the air show on July 15th, Boeing revealed to the world that the chosen name was Dreamliner. However, there’s still one more important milestone in naming the 787. As we mentioned earlier, at the time of the competition, the aircraft was known as the 7E7. It would take another year and a half for the E to be replaced with the number eight in January 2005. As they say, the rest is history.

Which potential 787 name is your favorite? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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