Boeing celebrated the first flight of its 787-10, the newest and biggest variant yet of its “Dreamliner” widebody aircraft.
Boeing completed the milestone flight on Friday at around 2:35 p.m. ET. The aircraft had been in the air for a little more than five hours after taking off around 9:30 a.m. ET.
The event came at Boeing’s assembly line in North Charleston, S.C., where a large crowd of employees and onlookers gathered to watch the “dash 10” version of the Dreamliner take to the skies for the first time.
The “787-10” is the third variant of Boeing’s new-age jet, following the smaller 787-8 – the original – and 787-9 models.
While Boeing’s other Dreamliner variants are built both in South Carolina and at its larger assembly line in Everett, Wash., the 787-10 will be produced exclusively at the North Charleston facility. Boeing broke ground on its line there in 2009 and commenced operations in 2011.
Boeing made its ceremonial roll out of its 787-10 on Feb. 17 in South Carolina. Now that the 787-10 has completed its first flight, it will undergo the further flight testing needed to certify the 787-10 for commercial flying.
Boeing hopes to start delivering the 787-10s to airlines in 2018. At the time of the roll-out in February, Boeing had 149 orders for the plane from nine customers.
Singapore Airlines, expected to be the launch customer for the 787-10, congratulated Boeing on the first flight.
"Singapore Airlines is proud that we will be the first operator of the Boeing 787-10, and we look forward to receiving our first aircraft in 2018," the carrier said in a statement shared by Boeing. "These modern, fuel-efficient aircraft will be operated on medium-haul routes, providing us with new growth opportunities, while also offering our customers more comfort with all-new cabin products that are currently under development."
The 787-10 is essentially an 18-foot stretch of the 787-9. In a typical seating configuration, Boeing says the 787-10 will seat about 330 passengers – or about 40 more than a 787-9 would in a similar layout.
The 787-9 itself is a stretch of the original 787-8 version, about 20 feet longer with an extended range of about 300 additional miles. Boeing lists the 787-8 has having a capacity of about 242 passengers in a typical layout and a range of about 7,355 nautical miles. The 787-10 will have the shortest range of the three at about 6,430 nautical miles, according to Boeing.