After quite a few delays, Boeing delivered its first 787 on Sunday. The new jet which was first scheduled to fly passengers more than three years ago, is expected to offer travelers much more comfort and provide significant savings to the airlines that purchase it. The first one goes to Japan’s All Nippon Airways, which has been printing the 787 logo and “We Fly 1st” on its business cards for years. All Nippon plans to begin flying the 787 from Tokyo to Okayama-Hiroshima on Nov. 11. The first international route will be Tokyo to Frankfurt starting in January.
Boeing has dubbed the 787 as the “Dreamliner”. There are more than 800 orders for the new jet. “A lot of carriers are betting that this is going to be a winner,” says George Hamlin, president of Hamlin Transportation Consulting in Fairfax, Va.
Most of the jetliner is covered in lightweight carbon fiber vice the usual aluminum skin. Military and other planes have used carbon fiber skins for years but not in this amount. The strength of the carbon fiber now allows windows to be bigger and higher. Electronic dimming replaces pull-down shades. Air cabin pressure will be lower and humidity levels higher which will reduce dry noses and throats for passengers.
The jet will be as much as 20% more fuel-efficient than the jets it will replace. Its efficiency was a nice perk when Boeing first proposed the 787 in its current form in 2003. Now it’s essential for airlines dealing with high fuel costs.
The first U.S. customer is United Continental Holdings Inc., which will get its first 787s next year and plans to fly them between Houston and Auckland, New Zealand, and Houston and Lagos, Nigeria.
Boeing has been the premier manufacturer of commercial jetliners for more than 40 years. Boeing (NYSE: BA) stock shares closed on Friday at 59.51 up 1.35%.