[Peter Paul Media] — United Airlines completed FAA certification of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner Sunday making it the first U.S. airline to operate a scheduled passenger flight using Boeing’s advanced-composite jetliner.
Passengers cheered as United’s inaugural flight touched down at Chicago’s O’Hare airport after a month-long certification process involving non-commercial flights and a series of test scenarios during more than 100 flight hours.
“I want to thank my co-workers who worked so carefully and professionally to get United certified to operate the Dreamliner,” said United CEO Jeff Smisek.
“Many people from across the company put in a lot of work to help us induct and prepare to operate the 787, and I’m proud to share this important day with all of them,” he added.
The airline received its first Dreamliner on September 23 and is expected to take ownership of four more by the end of the year. Another 50 are on order. Globally, customers have placed 929 orders for the new plane, according to numbers released by Boeing.
“As the North American launch customer, we are delighted to be getting our first 787 Dreamliner. As we continue to build the world’s leading airline, we are excited for our customers and co-workers to experience this game-changing aircraft,” Smisek said after receiving delivery of the first plan in September.
United’s international Dreamliner service will begin in December to destinations around the globe including London, Amsterdam and China.
Production problems delayed the 787 Dreamliner program for three years but the new plane is said to be more fuel efficient, easier to maintain for airlines and offer passenger comfort amenities such as cleaner air and bigger windows which dim automatically. The plane is 20 percent more fuel efficient than other airplanes in its class, Boeing said.
The 787 is made up of 50 percent composite, 20 percent aluminum, 15 percent titanium and 10 percent steel. The new material will cause less corrosion and is more durable than most metal aircrafts in the skies today, Boeing said. The jet will seat at least 250 passengers in three classes on the 787-8 model. The 787-9 model will seat up to 290 passengers.
Currently, six airlines operate the Boeing 787 including Air India, ANA, Ethiopian Airlines, Japan Airlines, LAN, and United. Canada’s national airline, Air Canada, has 37 Dreamliner aircraft on order and is scheduled to receive the first delivery in 2014, the airline said on its website.