Boeing completes 787 maiden sortie

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Boeing has completed the maiden flight of its flagship 787 Dreamliner, the world's first majority composite jetliner.

The aircraft - designated ZA001 - touched down at 1:35PST at Boeing Field just south of Seattle and home to the company's flight test operations centre that will oversee the nine to 12 month certification process.

According to FlightAware ZA001 achieved speeds ranging from a low of 41kts to 220kts, and reached a peak altitude of 13,200ft.

Boeing 001 Experimental departed Paine Field, home of final assembly operations for the 787 programme at 10:29PST for its 3hr and 6min flight to begin the 3100 flight and 3160 ground test hour certification campaign.

The completion of the first flight of the 787-8 comes 944 days after final assembly first began on the aircraft, which is made up of more than 50% composite materials by weight.

Boeing's flagship programme has witnessed extended delays driven by the company's struggles with its global supply chain, design changes, a machinist strike and most recently a structural weakness in the side-of-body of the aircraft.

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The 787 was initially targeted to fly in the third quarter of 2007.

Despite these troubles, the aircraft, which aims to delivery 20% improvement in fuel burn over its predecessor, the 767, has sold more units pre-first flight than any commercial aircraft in the company's history.

The twin-engined 787-8 will carry 210 to 250 passengers nonstop between 14,200 km (7,670nm) and 15,200km (8,200nm).

Boeing holds 840 firm orders from 56 customers. Certification and first delivery of the 787 is expected in the fourth quarter of 2010 to Japan's All Nippon Airways.