Friday morning, the first flight of the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner took off from Boeing’s North Charleston assembly line in Charleston, South Carolina. The 787-10 is largest of the three variants of Boeing 787 aircraft.
The first flight departed CHS airport around 9:30 a.m. eastern time in a flight that lasted almost 5 hours, landing back in Charleston at around 2:15 p.m. eastern. The takeoff and landing were viewed by hundreds of thousands of press and Boeing employees who worked thousands of hours to get the state-of-the-art aircraft in the air.
“The 787-10’s first flight moves us one step closer to giving our customers the most efficient airplane in it’s class,” said Boeing Airplanes president and CEO Kevin McAllister. “The airplane will give carriers added flexibility in growing their network routes and build on the overwhelming success of the 787 Dreamliner family.”
Pilots Tim Berg and Mike Bryan took the aircraft up to 20,000 feet and hit a top speed of 288 miles per hour (463 km/h) during the test flight, where the aircraft did multiple maneuvers around the Atlantic Coast and inland towards Greenville, South Carolina.
The Boeing 787-10 is the third variant of Boeing’s new-age aircraft, following the smaller 787-8 and 787-9, which are 186 ft. and 206 ft. long, respectively. The 787-10 boasts some impressive stats, including a 197 ft. wingspan, Mach .85 cruising speed, and a 6,430 nm (11,910 km) range. Two of either the General Electric GEnx-1B or Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines will be used, producing 76,000 lbs. of thrust per engine.
Despite the -8 and -9 variants of the Dreamliner being primarily assembled and tested in Seattle, Washington, the new 787-10 will be almost exclusive to the companies’ Charleston, South Carolina facilities. The plant in Charleston was opened in 2011 as a secondary assembly line to relieve the workload on the overcrowded Seattle facilities where a majority of the aircraft are tested.
Boeing plans to deliver the first examples of this aircraft in 2018, with many tests and trials still to do with the aircraft such as high-altitude testing, bird ingestion testing, engine testing, and hundreds of other tests in order to confidently deliver a safe and efficient aircraft, which is what Boeing is known for. At the time of the first flight on March 31st, the 787-10 had picked up 149 orders from nine customers, including Air France / KLM, Air Lease Corporation, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, and Etihad Airways, among others. You can find the full list of orders here.
The launch customer is scheduled to be Singapore-based Singapore Airlines, in which the airline ordered 20 of the examples as part of a 39-aircraft order the airline made in February. The purchase was estimated to be made at around USD $8 billion.
“Singapore Airlines is proud that we will be the first operator of the Boeing 787-10, and we look forward to receiving our first aircraft in 2018,” the carrier made in a statement to Boeing. “These modern, fuel-efficient aircraft will be operated on medium-haul routes, providing us with new growth opportunities, while also offering our customers more comfort with all-new cabin products that are currently under development.”
The 787 family is a key part of Boeing’s twin-aisle airplane strategy, which offers to customers a modern, optimized, and efficient airplane for any mission. Since entering service in 2011, the 787 family has flown more than 152 million people on over 560 different routes around the world that would otherwise not be possible without the efficiency of the 787. An estimated 14 billion pounds of fuel have been saved by the aircrafts’ efficiency.
With only a handful of months before the first example is delivered, it is safe to say the initial hype of the 787 families’ largest aircraft won’t be wearing off soon. You can track the first aircrafts’ testing on FlightRadar24.