It has been a long, hard road for American aviation giant Boeing, but the Dreamliner project is about to reach fruition with the delivery of the first aircraft to launch customer All Nippon Airways.
The Japanese carrier will take receipt of the aircraft over the weekend, three years behind schedule.
However, this is just the start of a new journey for Boeing, which must ramp up production of the new composite carrier in order to make the project profitable.
Boeing aims to produce ten Dreamliners a month by 2013, a record level for wide- body aircraft. It presently produces just two.
That is not to say the plane is proving unpopular with customers.
The Chicago-based company has landed orders for more than 820 Dreamliners, thanks to promises of low fuel consumption, reduced maintenance costs and greater passenger comfort.
The 787 Dreamliner is one of the fastest-selling jets ever.
ANA alone expects to receive all 55 Dreamliner jets it has ordered from Boeing by March 2018, the airline’s president said as launch approached.
But the delays have forced Boeing to pay customers fat compensation, compounding the project’s cost.
ANA will take delivery of the first plane on Sunday.
The Dreamliner project was given a boost recently, with Air France-KLM selecting the 787 as part of its long-haul fleet renewal.
The carrier outlined intentions to purchase 25 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, with options for 25 more.
“We are proud to be a major part of the fleet renewal plan being undertaken by Air France-KLM ,” said Jim Albaugh, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
“The 787 Dreamliner will bring outstanding value to the two airlines and will be a great complement to their large fleets of Boeing widebody airplanes.”