Boeing's Dreamliner completes first commercial flight

 

The All Nippon Airlines flight carried its first passengers from Tokyo to Hong Kong.

Boeing's Dreamliner has finally had its maiden commercial voyage, three years later than planned.

The All Nippon Airlines (ANA) flight carried its first passengers from Tokyo to Hong Kong.

The Dreamliner had originally been scheduled for delivery in 2008, but Boeing has suffered a string of setbacks.

Wednesday's flight was a special charter, with normal services due to start in November.

The flight came as Boeing said its quarterly profits were a third higher than last year.

Problems with the Dreamliner have put its launch behind schedule, the latest being an onboard fire during test flights last November, and the company will hope a successful launch will help put to bed some of the memories of prior setbacks.

Boeing says the twin-aisle, mid-size plane features the industry's largest windows, with higher cabin humidity and cleaner air - all of which combine to allow passengers to arrive at their destinations more refreshed.

Start Quote

Just thinking I'm going to be part of aviation history is a dream”

End Quote Gino Bertuccio

Because of the materials used in construction - carbon fibre rather than aluminium - as well as new engines and aerodynamics, Boeing says the Dreamliner is about 20% more fuel efficient than similarly-sized models flying today.

That would be a big help for airlines coping with the high price of jet fuel, which is usually their biggest single cost.

ANA's chief Shinichiro Ito and Boeing vice-president Scott Fancher broke open barrels of sake with small hammers and passed it around to passengers as they boarded in Tokyo.

The airline auctioned six business-class seats on the inaugural flight, with one selling for $34,000 (£21,200) - about 13 times the price of a regular business-class ticket between the two Asian hubs.

The winner, Gino Bertuccio, won because he accidentally added an extra digit onto his bid - but he was happy regardless, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"Just thinking I'm going to be part of aviation history is a dream," he told the paper.

Another passenger was part of a small group of fliers who try to fly on the first flights of major new planes.

Thomas Lee, a 59-year-old Californian, also flew on the maiden commercial flights of the Boeing 747 in 1970 and the Airbus A380 superjumbo in 2007.

'Confidence'

The airline said that net profit in the third quarter rose 31% to $1.1bn, from the same July-September period last year.

It also raised its earnings outlook for the year, as it said that it had 255 net orders during the quarter and 426 during the first nine months of 2011.

"Our improved outlook for earnings reflects confidence in our market positions," said Boeing chairman and president Jim McNerney.

An ANA Dreamliner jet The Dreamliner offers more fuel efficiency through being lighter, says Boeing

But it now expects to deliver 480 planes this year, down from its previous forecast of between 485 and 495 planes.

Boeing plans to make 10 of the Dreamliner planes a month from 2013. But the long delay has hurt its business.

Last week, China Eastern Airlines cancelled orders for 24 Dreamliners, rather than wait for production to pick up.

Boeing has more than 800 orders on its books for the 787 Dreamliner, and the average list price is $201.7m.

Japan, a market in which Boeing dominates rival Airbus, is a major market for the Dreamliner.

ANA will take delivery of dozens more of the aircraft in the coming years.

"For carriers with high operating margins, the 787 is critical for gaining a cost competitiveness," said Masaharu Hirokane, an analyst at Nomura Holding in Tokyo.

A comparison of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380
 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 105.

    Achieving a 20% improved efficiency with the Dreamliner and RR Trent 1000 engines is amazing technology which will contribute heavily to driving down aircraft emissions in the future. A far more realistic option than the ‘cancel your holiday‘ solution suggested by many. No point in living if you don’t have a life. I’m surprised at the number of green thinkers out there slating this story.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 100.

    True that the 787 wings are not made in the UK but the revolutionary electric Wing Ice Protection System (WIPS) is, the leading edge slat heaters by GKN and the advanced power control system by Ultra Electronics.

    I too, am a UK engineer who has worked on this great aircraft for years, and indeed flown on it a number of times, and share danielgetseverywhere's pride in the large UK design input.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 60.

    Also, far more companies worked on this than just RR. I'm an engineer that worked on for this aircraft, for a very large company, and there are literally thousands of people in the UK that contributed towards this aircraft. I'm proud to have worked on this aircraft - seeing it's first flight was the highlight of my career to date. I cannot wait to fly on it!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 50.

    Finally a commercial aircraft designed to make flying cheaper using efficient advances in technology and not by cramming more people into a plane.

    I imagine this plane will be popular with airlines, if anything, to reduce their costs, not our tickets.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 44.

    Eventually something really fresh in the aviation field since the introduction of the jet engine...rather than improvements over improvements, a completely new stuff!! Glad to see flght pioneers coming back!

 

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