Boeing’s long-awaited dream machine became a commercial reality when its 787 Dreamliner was formally delivered to its first customer, Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA). The new jet, which was supposed to be flying passengers three years ago, has been delayed by production and design problems. But now it’s here, and airlines expect it to offer travelers much more comfort, open up new routes and provide significant fuel savings.
The 787 Dreamliner, a revolutionary new type of plane, promises to raise the bar for fuel economy and environmental sensitivity through the use of new technologies such as lightweight composites and advanced propulsion technology. Instead of the usual aluminum skin, most of the 787 is covered in carbon fiber, basically a high-tech plastic that is strong but lightweight. Analysts expect the plane to use roughly 20 percent less fuel than comparable planes and that will represent a substantial savings for airlines: jet fuel usually ranks second or first in flight expenses, just behind/ahead of employees salaries.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner costs $185.2 million to $218.1 million each, depending on model configuration, and seats 210 to 290 people, depending on seat configuration. It’s a mid-sized, wide-body plane with a lightweight carbon composite airframe. Flying range: 7,650-9,780 miles or 14,200-15,700 kilometers. Boeing says the single-aisle plane features the industry’s largest windows, a lower cabin altitude and cleaner air – all of which combine to allow passengers to arrive at their destinations more refreshed.
The blue and white-painted long-range aircraft, which boasts a graceful new design with raked wingtips, will leave for Japan on Tuesday and enter service domestically on October 26. ANA, the world’s ninth largest airline by revenues, plans to first bring the airplane into service on domestic routes before putting it on longer international routes like Frankfurt, Germany.
We have been waiting for the 787 for over 3 years as we expected it in the summer of 2008, said senior vice president Satoru Fujiki who took part in negotiations to buy the 787. I can’t say the delayed delivery didn’t have any impact but ANA and Boeing worked closely to mitigate it, he said, adding Boeing had provided alternative jets to meet the shortfall.
ANA has ordered a total of 55 Dreamliners worth $11 billion at current list prices, including 40 of the 260-passenger 787-8 variant being delivered this week. ANA plans to take delivery of four planes in 2011 and an additional eight next year.
To date, 827 orders have been made for the much-hyped airplane. Boeing said it expects to produce 10 planes per month by the end of 2013, seven at its Everett headquarters and three in a facility in South Carolina.
Boeing will broadcast a live celebration of the first delivery of the Dreamliner to All Nippon on its website starting at 9 a.m. PDT.