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The Boeing 787 Dreamliner took to the sky for the first time today, ushering a new era in air travel as it departed before an estimated crowd of more than 12,000 employees and guests from Paine Field in Everett, Washington.
Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is designed to be one of the most fuel-efficient aircraft available to the commercial sector. It aims to achieve this through the extensive use of composites – which make up around 50 per cent of the plane’s primary structure – which are lighter than traditional materials.
Through the use composite materials, Boeing believe efficiency can be improved in other aspects of the design; as the 787 Dreamliner is built with a one-piece fuselage section, Boeing estimate that they eliminate 1,500 aluminium sheets and 40,000 – 50,000 fasteners from the build.
After takeoff from Everett, the airplane followed a route over the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Capts. Carriker and Neville took the airplane to an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) and an air speed of 180 knots, or about 207 miles (333 kilometers) per hour, customary on a first flight.
“”Today is truly a proud and historic day for the global team who has worked tirelessly to design and build the 787 Dreamliner – the first all-new jet airplane of the 21st century,”” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “”We look forward to the upcoming flight test program and soon bringing groundbreaking levels of efficiency, technology and passenger comfort to airlines and the flying public.””
Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, the first Boeing 787 will be joined in the flight test program in the coming weeks and months by five other 787s, including two that will be powered by General Electric GEnx engines.
The six completed Dreamliner’s will undertake a rigorous flight test program over the next few months, with the 787’s first delivery scheduled for fourth quarter 2010.
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