United Airlines' first scheduled international flight on a Boeing 787 from Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita departed 5min early at 11:10 local time today.

Flight 32 is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo at 15:32 local time on 4 January, according to the Chicago-based carrier's website.

"We are delighted to offer our customers in Los Angeles and Tokyo the comfort and spectacular flying experience of our new Boeing Dreamliner aircraft," says Jim Mueller, vice-president of Atlantic and Pacific sales at United, in a statement.

The flight is operated by 787 registration number N26902, according to the airline's web site. It is the same aircraft that was grounded for six days due to the failure of an electrical generator inflight on 4 December 2012. The aircraft returned to service on 10 December 2012.

Boeing and United have been investigating the cause of the failure but it is unclear as to the status of the investigation.

The airline has delayed the launch of its 787 international services between Houston Intercontinental and Lagos, London Heathrow and Amsterdam as it works with Boeing to improve the reliability of the aircraft.

The 787 replaces a Boeing 777-200 on United's flights between Los Angeles and Tokyo Narita.

United competes with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Malaysia Airlines between Los Angeles and Tokyo Narita, according to Innovata schedules. Its Star Alliance partners All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Singapore Airlines also offer flights on the route.

The carrier anticipates that it will receive two 787s in 2013, according to an employee newsletter on 2 January. It received six from Boeing during the second half of 2012.

United has orders for 50 787-8s.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news