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United celebrates rollout of 787

United Airlines celebrated the rollout of its first Boeing 787-8 in the special "swoop" livery at the manufacturer's Everett, Washington plant on 2 August.

The Chicago-based carrier is the US launch customer for the type and will take delivery of the aircraft (N20904) in September. The 787 rolled out of the paint shop on 31 July.

"We have been awaiting this day for a while and it's worth every bit of the wait," says Dave Hilfman, senior vice-president of sales at United, during the ceremony. "It's going to be extraordinarily successful for United."

United will receive four 787-8s before the end of the year, according to the airline.

The carrier has firm orders for 36 787-8s and 14 787-9s, with options for 10 additional 787-8s and a letter of intent covering 50 of either variant, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database.

Credits: United
© United Continental Holdings

United will first fly the aircraft on domestic services before placing it on its existing route between Houston Intercontinental and Lagos, Nigeria. The 787 will be used to launch a new service between Denver and Tokyo Narita in March 2013.

The airline intends to rotate the 787-8 through all of its domestic hubs that have a widebody service before it shifts to international operations, says Hilfman. This includes all of the airline's hubs except Cleveland.

United's 219-seat 787-8 has 36 fully lie-flat business-class seats in a two-two-two configuration, 72 economy plus seats and 111 economy seats in a three-three-three configuration.

All of the economy seats, supplied by BE Aerospace are a little more than 17in (43cm) wide while economy plus seats have at least 34in of pitch and economy seats 31in.

Panasonic provides the in-seat in-flight entertainment system on United's 787. Audio video on demand is available at each seat. Power outlets are located at each seat in the business-class cabin and there are two for every three seats in the main cabin except for in the bulkhead rows where there are three outlets.

The airline is working "aggressively" with Boeing to find an in-flight wi-fi solution for the 787, it says.

United executives repeatedly cite the positive impact of the 787’s lower cabin altitude on passenger comfort. Senior vice-president of marketing and distribution Mark Bergsrud describes the lower altitude compared to that of its rivals as the difference between being in Vail or Colorado Springs. Vail is at 2,445m (8,016ft) above sea level while Colorado Springs sits at 1,832m.

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