Boeing’s Dream Takes Flight with Liftoff of 787

 - December 15, 2009, 11:04 AM

At 10:27 a.m. PST, Boeing 787 chief pilot Mike Carriker and test pilot Randy Neville took Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner on its maiden flight. The 787’s Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines powered up as two Lockheed T-33 chase planes dipped down to match the 787’s acceleration. Lifting off smoothly from Runway 34L at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., the 787’s wings gracefully swept upward with burgeoning lift as the composite jetliner poised briefly on main wheels with nose pointed skyward then climbed swiftly into the gray skies and disappeared into the distance underneath the 2,500-foot broken cloud layer. Within 15 minutes of the takeoff, ceilings dropped and a steady rain settled over Paine Field. The first flight lasted nearly three hours, culminating in a landing at Boeing Field in Seattle at 1:33 p.m. PST. The 787’s long-awaited first flight comes about 2.5 years after the originally planned debut flight. Boeing has a backlog of about 850 copies of the 787 and plans an ambitious flight-test program using six of the jetliners, with certification planned by the end of next year. The next flight-test 787 is expected to take off within days, and all six are to be flying by June. At least 13 of the 787s on firm order will be completed with a VIP/executive interior. The first green VIP 787 scheduled is to be delivered in 2012, with outfitting to take between 18 and 24 months.