Boeing said late Sunday that ANA, the airline that is the first customer of its 787 Dreamliner, has begun flying test routes in Japan.
In a statement, the aviation giant said that during the step, which it considers a vital one leading to first delivery of the Dreamliner, likely in August or September, ANA pilots flew actual routes in Japan using what it called "airline dispatch and flight rules."
The first 787 landed in Tokyo Sunday at 6:21 a.m. (local time) in front of a thousand ANA employees, press, and airplane fans. The plane is the second 787 Dreamliner to come off Boeing's production line, and had flown non-stop from Seattle.
This is part of a week-long validation process, during which ANA and Boeing will put the Dreamliner through simulations of every day airline operations, including servicing, flight crew operations, and maintenance at five Japanese airports. ANA, which will be the first airline to fly the 787, is expected to debut the plane on its Haneda to Okayama or Hiroshima to Haneda routes later this year.
For Boeing, this is a significant step forward. The 787 Dreamliner is a crucial part of its overall commercial aviation strategy but has been delayed frequently due to a wide range of problems including mechanical issues, on-board fires, and strikes. The aviation world is watching closely to see when the Dreamliner will finally begin commercial service.