After more than two years of costly delays, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner finally got off the ground … literally.
“Dreamliner 1” lifted off the tarmac at Paine Field in Everett, Washington at approximately 1:27 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (10:27 Pacific Standard Time), twenty-eight months behind schedule. After a five-and-a-half hour test flight, the plane will land at Boeing Field in Seattle.
The maiden flight was a bittersweet moment for Washington State, which lost out to North Charleston, S.C. in the race for the Dreamliner’s second assembly line.
Still, thousands of employees gathered to cheer the plane as it took off for the first time into a cold, overcast sky.
Made of 50% carbon fiber composite material, the Dreamliner is lighter, stronger and more fuel-efficient than most commercial jets – which are made primarily of aluminum. This revolutionary, money-saving design resulted in a record number of Dreamliner orders from airline companies when the plane was first offered for sale six years ago.
Since then, however, the plane has proven to be a “Nightmare Liner,” as numerous glitches in its design as well as problems with Boeing’s supply chain and labor force pushed its scheduled launch further behind schedule – costing Boeing billions.
Initially scheduled for delivery in May of 2008, the first Dreamliners aren’t scheduled to arrive until the fourth quarter of 2010.
Six Dreamliners will spend the next year conducting test flights – part of the Federal Aviation Administration certification process.
South Carolina is currently scheduled to begin producing its first Dreamliners around 2012 or 2013.
Pic: Seattle Times