Is it a bird, is it a plane? Virgin Atlantic harnesses “flapenergy” with new Dreambird 1417

By: Dave Gunner

March 31, 2017

Dreambird 1417 design

Dreambird 1417 design

The eagle eyed among you will have realised that this was an April Fools joke. Fooling people on April 1 is a tradition that is widespread across the world and goes back centuries. It’s good to keep the tradition going.

By its very nature it’s hard to believe everything you read about it, but this post from Snopes is a good reference.  So until next year…

Our new Dreambird 1417

Our new Dreambird 1417

After nearly 30 years of offering customers the ultimate long-haul flying experience, we are once again breaking barriers by announcing a world first in aircraft innovation.

Our world-class engineering team have been secretly working on the design and production of the world’s first-ever aircraft using new patented technology – flapology – to create the world’s first aircraft with flappable wings.

Named the Dreambird 1417, the new aircraft has been inspired by the innovative engineering of a bird in flight and its flapping wing. The Dreambird 1417 boasts wings that bend and flex to create a flapping motion that not only propels the aircraft forward but generates its own power to meet every electronic need on board.

The project has been personally funded by Richard Branson and overseen by the Engineering innovation team at Virgin Atlantic who have been hard at work on this top secret assignment for several years. Richard set himself a personal goal to change the face of flying forever when he started Virgin Atlantic in 1984 and this is one of many in the long line of aviation breakthroughs.

Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic said: “Birds are the ultimate flying machine and it’s been a lifelong ambition of mine to harness their energy and apply it to a passenger aircraft. Engineers all over the world have been trying for years to mimic a bird in flight and thanks to the perseverance and dedication of the team at Virgin Atlantic, we’ve finally succeeded. Not only have we harnessed this but we’ve also created a faster, cleaner more self-sustaining aircraft.”

The wings, made from Graphene, the world’s lightest, strongest and most flexible material generate enough energy to power everything on board from the lights and ovens to the inflight entertainment and the Upper Class Suite. The flapping motion also propels the aircraft forward, taking cruising speeds up to 900mph making this one of the fastest passenger jets in service.

Dreambird 1417 design

Dreambird 1417 design

The new Graphene wings reduce weight and fuel burn creating a cleaner, more sustainable aircraft and the introduction of the Dreambird 1417 to the Virgin Atlantic fleet is expected to reduce overall CO2 emissions by up to 20%.

The aircraft will make its debut on the London Heathrow to Seattle route in 2019.

To find out more from Richard Branson on Flapenergy and the Dreambird 1417 please visit and join the conversation at #flapenergy


Dave Gunner

Dave is the co-editor of Ruby, the Virgin Atlantic Blog. He has worked at Virgin Atlantic for over two decades. In that time he has amassed some truly epic memories but never lost his fascination with the airline world. Dave's on a mission to bring you some great insights into our people, planes and planet.

Categories: Our Aircraft