Boeing today announced the 787-10 Dreamliner, the third (and longest) plane in the often-troubled 787 family, and an aircraft that the aviation giant said will be the most fuel-efficient in the industry.
The unveiling was timed to the Paris Air Show, which is being held this week in Le Bourget, France. That show is the aviation industry's biggest event of the year, with many companies working hard to make sure their latest projects can be announced, or shown, there. Boeing's chief rival, Airbus, made its long-awaited first flight of the A350 XWB on Friday to ensure that that plane could make an appearance in Paris.
Boeing said that the 787-10 will have a range of 10,000 nautical miles, allowing it to cover 90 percent of the world's twin-aisle routes. The new plane, which is expected to go into final assembly and flight test in 2017, with first delivery the following year, will have room for between 300 and 330 passengers. Already, Boeing has received orders for 2012 of the planes from five carriers.
While the announcement is a big one for Boeing, it's worth noting that the Dreamliner program has been beset by an almost uncountable number of delays for years. The original 787 Dreamliner was announced in 2007 and was expected to make its first flight that year. But because of a wide-ranging litany of problems that first flight didn't take place until 2009, and the first commercial delivery didn't happen until 2011.
Even then, the Dreamliner has been plagued by trouble, with a series of battery problems leading to the grounding of the entire worldwide fleet of 787s until Boeing and its partners could convince aviation regulators that there was no more danger of on-board fires.
Still, throughout all its issues, the Dreamliner has continued to be a favorite among airlines, largely because the planes offer unprecedented fuel efficiency due to their use of composite materials and new engines.
Production of the 787-9 Dreamliner is well underway.