Boeing's long-awaited Dreamliner takes off

Boeing's fuel-efficient Dreamliner finally makes first commercial flight

LAST UPDATED AT 11:23 ON Wed 26 Oct 2011

BOEING's new flagship plane, the 787 Dreamliner, made its first commercial flight today after years of delays and technical glitches. The All Nippon Airlines (ANA) charter flight left Tokyo's Narita airport bound for Hong Kong.

According to Reuters, the Dreamliner offers a 20 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency thanks to its carbon-composite design that makes the plane lighter and more economical to fly than its metal rivals. "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.

The new plane offers a more spacious interior and larger windows than normal. However, it is not much faster than the 707. The Dreamliner was originally conceived in 2001 as the high-speed 'Sonic Cruiser' but Boeing dropped its original idea in the face of soaring oil costs.

ANA, which has ordered 55 aircraft, will use the plane regularly from November. Because of the delays, Boeing has a backlog of 821 orders. But some airlines have given up waiting. China Eastern Airlines terminated an order for 24 planes this month while Air New Zealand is seeking compensation. · 

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