The aircraft departed Paine Field in Everett, Washington, at 1:27 p.m. Eastern Time [10:27 a.m. local] in front of an emotionally charged crowd of engineers, machinists, and spectators. Over 300,000 people from 189 countries watched the maiden flight on Boeing’s live web broadcast. The test flight will last about five hours and cover up to 40 kilometres, Boeing said.
“This represents a triumph of the skilled engineers, technical workers and machinists who work at Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems,” said Ray Goforth, executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace [SPEEA].
“Seeing the 787 take flight is a moment of great pride for everyone who played a part,” he added.
The state of the art, fly-by-wire, aircraft is made up of 50% composite materials, will consume less fuel, and become one of the most environmentally friendly aircrafts in the skies today. Boeing said the Dreamliner will be 20% more fuel efficient than similarly sized jetliners.
The aircraft will seat up to 330 [787-3 model] passengers, travel up to 15,750 kilometres, and connect 450 new city pairs when it enters commercial service.
On Saturday, the Dreamliner successfully completed a high-speed taxi test. During the test, the aircraft reached 240 kilometres-per-hour.
All Nippon Airways, the launch customer of the new jetliner, will receive its first aircraft in the first quarter in 2010, the airline said.
A total of 57 airlines have placed firm orders for about 900 787 Dreamliner‘s, including Air Canada, making it the fastest-selling aircraft in aviation history. Depending on the model, airlines can expect to pay between $150 and $205.5 million dollars for one aircraft.
In an email, Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline expects the first delivery of the 787 in late 2013. Although no plans for the Dreamliner have been announced, “The 787 does open a lot of possibilities given its size and range,” he said.