Under a wet Pacific Northwestern sky, Boeing and All Nippon Airways celebrated the delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner, marking a ceremonial end to more than three and a half years of delays and ushering in a new era of majority composite jetliners.

Despite the heavy rain, a crowd of thousands watched the ceremonial handover of the aircraft, Airplane Eight, between Shinichiro Ito, president and CEO of ANA and Boeing leaders.

"The 787 Dreamliner is the biggest innovation in commercial aviation since the Boeing 707 introduced the world to passenger jet travel more than 50 years ago," said Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman, president and CEO.

787 ANA delivery 

 Photo by Jon Ostrower

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh and ANA CEO Ito, signed ceremonial documents handing over the first 787 to the programme's launch customer, as well as another token of Boeing's appreciation for ANA's extended patience.

"When you a buy you get a key, when you buy a Dreamliner you get a really big key," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh, presenting a golden key to Ito.

The first aircraft for ANA was contractually delivered by Boeing on 25 September and will depart the company's Paine Field facility at 06:35 local time on 27 September for Tokyo, where it will arrive on 28 September at 09:00 local time at Haneda Airport.

ANA plans to launch service on 26 October with a charter flight from Tokyo-Narita to Hong Kong. Scheduled service begins 1 November between Tokyo-Haneda and Okayama and Tokyo-Haneda and Hiroshima. A long-haul flight from Tokyo to Frankfurt, Germany, is scheduled to begin in January. That route is expected to introduce the Package B upgrade of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine in ANA's 787 fleet.

With its first 787 now delivered, Boeing's backlog stands at 820 aircraft, a record sum for a widebody aircraft, opening a delivery stream to several dozen customers who have seen their orders delayed by as much as four years from their original plans.

Boeing plans to deliver between 25 and 30 787s and 747-8s in 2011, with programme sources pointing to a goal of eight Dreamliners delivered this year, the majority ANA.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news