PICTURE: First British Airways 787 breaks cover

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One of British Airways' first Boeing 787-8s has emerged, part-painted, from the US airframer's facilities, as the carrier prepares to expand its 787 order.

The aircraft (G-ZBJA) still has a white fuselage but its vertical fin carries the Union flag livery of the UK operator.

While some publicity material - including officially-licensed Boeing models of the BA twinjets - have featured blue engine nacelles, those on the initial airframe appear pale grey. BA's own artistic impressions have shown white engines.

ba 787

 Matt Cawby

BA had been intending to take delivery of the first of its 24 Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered 787s in May but the grounding of the type in January has left the schedule unclear.

The carrier is set to increase its 787 order to 42 following a tentative decision by International Airlines Group to exercise 18 options.

IAG has not indicated the variant of 787 involved, but its stated intention to use the jets to replace some Boeing 747-400s from 2017 indicates a larger family member - possibly the proposed 787-10X, yet to be formally launched.