Unveiling its first new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the United Airlines has become the first U.S. carrier to take delivery of the new airplane.
United announced that the first aircraft would undergo an extensive testing regime conducted both by the airline and the FAA prior to entering service in the fall.
Pilots have already been training on the full motion 787 simulator United installed at its Houston hub. Flight attendants and maintenance techs have also been trained on the new aircraft type. Nearly 1,200 spare 787 parts have been procured for quick replacement when needed.
Primarily built with composite materials, the 787 has 30 percent more range and uses approximately 20 percent less fuel than similarly-sized aircraft, while reducing emissions and noise during takeoffs and landings.
The aircraft cabin is configured with 36 seats in United Business-first, 72 seats in United Economy Plus and 111 seats in United Economy. Customers will be more comfortable with improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation systems, among other features. The 787's in-flight entertainment system offers a new design that feature more intuitive browsing and more filtering options, giving customers the option of searching for programs by language.
Each of United’s 787s will feature a swooping gold line along the sides of the fuselage from the nose to the tail.
With these advantages, the 787 will open up new non-stop destinations that customers would not be able to otherwise reach on United. Currently, the jet is flying for only two other airlines — Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.
The United Flight
United says it wants to use the livery to pay tribute to its long history of launching new aircraft models with Boeing. The Chicago-based carrier, which was the first airline to fly both the 767 and 777 aircraft, is the North American launch customer for the 787.
The first of 50 Boeing 787s ordered by United is scheduled for delivery in late September, with a total of five expected to enter service by the end of 2012. The Dreamliner is coming to the airline nearly three years behind schedule because of production delays that plagued Boeing's introduction of the jet.
"We have been awaiting this day for a while. And it has been worth every bit of the wait," said Dave Hilfman, United's senior vice president of sales, standing in front of the freshly painted 787 with its signature swept wings.
United has yet to announce an official first flight for the Dreamliner, but Hilfman says the airline will ease the jet into service on domestic routes before transitioning to long-haul service. After that, it will fly between Houston and Lagos, a route on which it will eventually replace United's 777 aircraft. And, in March, United will open its first new route with the 787: daily non-stop service between Tokyo and Denver.