New 787 completes first flight

New 787 completes first flight

A handout photo shows the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, the third member of the 787 Dreamliner family, flying during its first flight. Boeing Co via EPA

NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina: Boeing Co’s newest and largest Dreamliner model, the 787-10, successfully made its first flight on Friday, kicking off a test programme for the high-tech jet.

The plane, which sells for $312.8 million at list price and rounds out a family of three carbon-fiber composite Dreamliners, flew well, the pilots said.

“We had a great flight,” Captain Tim Berg said at a news conference after the flight. “The plane performed exactly like we thought it would.”

The flight was one of three initial voyages on Friday, joining the Airbus A319neo jetliner and the Antonov An-132D, a light turboprop military transport developed with Saudi Arabia.

Boeing’s 787-10 is being built at Boeing’s factory in North Charleston, South Carolina, due to its large size. The facility is Boeing’s only jetliner assembly factory outside of Washington state and, in contrast to the others, is not unionised.

Last month, the new plane provided a dramatic backdrop for President Donald Trump’s visit to the Boeing factory, where he promised to boost US manufacturing and punish companies for moving jobs overseas.

Companies in Japan, China, Italy, Sweden, France and Britain produce many of the 787’s major components, such as wings, fuselage sections and the rudder. Airlines can choose engines from General Electric Co of the United States, or Britain’s Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc.

The first 787-10 took off at 9.38 a.m. EDT and landed at 2.35 pm EDT.

The plane is a second and final “stretch,” of the original 787-8, which debuted in 2011. It is 18 feet (5.5 metres) longer than the 787-9 and seats 330 passengers, 40 more than the 787-9 and 88 more than the 787-8.

The 787 has been a top seller, with 1,200 firm orders as airlines use it to open new routes between smaller cities that can be profitable with the fuel-efficient 787.

Airbus SAS competes against the 787-10 with its A330neo, a remake of its older, aluminium-hulled A330 equipped with fuel-efficient engines. Both jets are optimised for shorter flights compared with other mid-sized, twin-aisle planes.

After brisk initial sales, orders for both have slowed, with Airbus selling just over 220 of its A330neo.

So far, the 787-10 has booked 149 orders from nine customers, about 12% of the total of firm orders. The mid-sized 787-9 has captured just over half the total.

After spending 2017 in testing, the 787-10 is expected to enter service with airlines in 2018. 

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