ANA flies away to Japan with first Boeing 787

September 27, 2011 - 12:55 PM
Boeing 787

The first Boeing Co. 787 plane delivered to a commercial customer takes off for Japan, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Everett, Wash. The plane will be operated by Japan's All Nippon Airways. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — Signed, sealed and delivered, the first Boeing 787 took off from Everett, Wash., on Tuesday in the hands of launch customer All Nippon Airways.

Ramp workers cheered the takeoff at 7:15 a.m., which was about 45 minutes later than expected. The plane climbed into an overcast sky, tipped its wings and headed west to Japan.

Boeing officials handed over a ceremonial key to airline executives Monday, after a three-year delay in bringing the new wide-body jetliner to market. The plane goes into service in November in Japan.

Chicago-based Boeing says a weight savings from a high-tech plastic skin will save airlines fuel while passengers enjoy features such as bigger windows and luggage bins.

Airlines have ordered more than 800 of the planes that will compete with the Airbus A350.

By March, Boeing is to deliver 12 of the 787s to ANA, which is to receive all of the 55 planes it ordered by the end of 2017. The planes are assembled at Boeing's wide-body factory in Everett and also a new plant Boeing opened in Charleston, S.C.

The new jet is the first commercial airliner built using carbon fiber — a strong, lightweight, high-tech plastic — rather than the typical aluminum skin.

The use of carbon fiber allowed for several other breakthroughs, including larger windows with electronic dimming rather than shades, and pressurization that's more akin to what passengers feel at ground level. Without corrosion-prone aluminum, cabin humidity levels can be set higher, easing dry noses and throats. The lighter jet will be quieter and use about 20 percent less fuel than a comparably sized aluminum aircraft.

At Monday's ceremony, aviation industry analyst Peter Clark, who traveled from Auckland, New Zealand, called the 787's delivery one of the four major events in the history of commercial aviation, after the development of the Boeing 707, the 747 and Concorde.