Boeing on Friday flew its biggest Dreamliner, the 787-10, for the first time.
The twin-aisle, composite jetliner took off shortly after 8:30 a.m. CDT from Charleston International Airport in North Charleston, S.C., and flew for five hours before touching down shortly after 1:30 p.m.
“We had a great flight today,” 787 test pilot Capt. Tim Berg said in a webcast news conference after the flight. “(Co-pilot) Mike (Bryan) and I just enjoyed the whole day. And it performed exactly as we thought it would.”
It is the first Boeing airplane exclusively assembled at — and now flown from — its North Charleston plant. The plant shares assembly of the 787-8 and 787-9 with Boeing’s main widebody jet plant in Everett, Wash.
Boeing has 149 orders for the 330-seat airplane from nine customers, including United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, ANA and Eithad and leasing companies Air Lease Corp. and GE Capital Aviation Services.
The 787-10 is the third variant of the 787. It is 18 feet longer than the 787-9 and has 40 more seats. It’s 38 feet longer than the 787-8 with 88 more seats.
It does, however, have the shortest range of the three, at 6,430 nautical miles.
The airplane shares the same wings and similar systems as its smaller siblings. Boeing officials said Friday the 787-10 has 95 percent commonality with the 787-9.
That’s important for Boeing in producing, selling and making money on its newest Dreamliner, which has a list price of $312.8 million.
“You don’t want radically different models in your production line,” Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said Friday. “It just increases your manufacturing costs.”
The airplane is expected to fly to the Seattle area next week for its certification testing. Boeing expects to begin deliveries in the first half of 2018.
A new Dreamliner variant also means more work for Spirit AeroSystems, a supplier to the 787 and other Boeing airplanes.
“We look forward to helping our customer deliver this newest 787 to the marketplace for many years to come,” Spirit said in an e-mailed statement.
Spirit manufactures the composite forward fuselage of the 787, including installing a complete cockpit, in Wichita. It also manufactures the 787’s wing leading edges and engine struts.