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Boeing has quietly rolled the first of its stretched 787-9 Dreamliners out of its factory in Everett, Washington overnight, with little fanfare and even less attention from the public.
This elongated version of the standard 787-8 is painted in Boeing's own branded livery but will eventually carry Air New Zealand's new livery when the Kiwi carrier, which is launch customer for the 787-9 series, collects the keys to this Dreamliner in mid-2014.
Ebony or ivory? Two choices of livery for Air New Zealand's first Boeing 787...
Boeing expects this first 787-9 to make its inaugural test flight next month, and says that many lessons from the production of the 787-8 have been fed into the evolution of the -9.
"We learned a lot from the 787-8, from design to flight testing (and) the battery is a whole 787 issue" Boeing's regional director of product marketing, Carrie Shiu, told Australian Business Traveller during a 787 briefing in Seattle earlier this year.
"We learned how to optimise the structure and fine-tune the thickness of material, and we further improved the aerodynamics of the airplane" Shiu said.
"There are also things we learned along the way on the -9 that we are now looking at how they can be put back on the -8".
Air New Zealand will fly its Boeing 787-9 to Shanghai and Tokyo as "key long haul destinations" for the new Dreamliner fleet, with secondary destinations including Perth, Honolulu and Papeete.
With room for around 40 more seats than the 787-8 plus slightly longer range, and being seen as a more mature version of the 787 family, Boeing has orders from 20 customers for some 335 of the second-gen Dreamliners, representing over 40 percent of all 787 orders.
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