First 787-9 takes flight

US airframer Boeing (NYSE: BA) said that its 787-9 Dreamliner variant took to the skies for the first time this week beginning a comprehensive flight-test program leading to certification and delivery in mid-2014.

With its distinctive new Boeing livery, the newest member of the efficient 787 family completed a 5-hour, 16-minute flight, taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., at 11: 02 a.m. local time and landing at 4: 18 p.m. at Seattle´s Boeing Field.

During the flight, 787-9 senior project pilot Mike Bryan and 787 chief pilot Randy Neville departed to the north, reaching an altitude of 20,400 feet (6,218 meters) and an airspeed of 250 knots, or about 288 miles (463 kilometers) per hour, customary for a first flight.

While Bryan and Neville tested the airplane´s systems and structures, onboard equipment transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team on the ground in Seattle.

Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, the first 787-9 will be joined in flight test by two additional airplanes, one of which will feature General Electric (NYSE: GE) GEnx engines. Those airplanes are in the final stages of assembly in Boeing´s Everett factory.

Over the coming months, the fleet will be subjected to a variety of tests and conditions to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the airplane´s design.

The 787-9 will complement and extend the 787 family, offering airlines the ability to grow routes first opened with the 787-8. With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 meters) over the 787-8, the 787-9 will carry 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers).

Boeing said it is on track to deliver the 787-9 to launch customer Air New Zealand in mid-2014. Twenty-five customers from around the world have ordered 388 787-9s, accounting for 40% of all 787 orders.

Find out more at www.boeing.com.

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