Construction has started on British Airways’ first Dreamliner, with the Boeing 787 due to join the airline’s fleet in May next year.
British Airways has ordered 24 of Boeing’s game-changing aircraft, as well as 12 Airbus A380 superjumbos.
The airline is on track to be first in Europe to have both aircraft types operating in its fleet.
Keith Williams, British Airways’ chief executive said: “This is an exciting first step to welcoming the first of our Boeing 787s into the British Airways fleet.
“The Dreamliner, with its lightweight composite construction, is truly radical.
“It marks a new era in British Airways as we take delivery of a new generation of stylish and fuel efficient aircraft bringing even better service to our customers.
“These revolutionary aircraft, form part of a £5bn investment by British Airways in new aircraft, smarter cabins, elegant lounges, and new technologies to make life more comfortable in the air - and on the ground.”
The aircraft breaks with tradition by using a carbon fibre composite skin, instead of aluminium to cover the four separately built fuselage sections, which are ‘baked’ in huge ovens.
Sixty five per cent of the 787 is built by suppliers from outside of the US.
The parts are then brought together and joined on the final assembly lines in Boeings’ Seattle or Charleston factories, using thousands of ‘fasteners’, compared to the nearly one million rivets used to build a conventional Boeing 747.
The first part of the British Airways 787 to be built, which is 50 per cent constructed of composite materials, was the mid forward fuselage, which was constructed in Japan.
Suppliers in the UK provide the plane’s landing gear, while Derbyshire-based Rolls-Royce is supplying Trent 1000 engines for the Dreamliner.