Dreamliner Cleared for Takeoff in United States, Europe

Aug. 28, 2011
Boeing's new 787 long-haul jet wins regulatory approval from FAA, EASA.

Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner won approval from U.S. and European Union regulators Friday, setting the stage for the first delivery of the aircraft to Japan's ANA after three years of production delays.

"It's official! The FAA and EASA have certified the 787 Dreamliner," the company said in a tweet.

In a statement, Boeing said it received certifications from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency during a ceremony at the company's facility in Everett, Wash.

The certifications mean the 787 complies with regulations and is safe to fly passengers.

Boeing says that through July this year it had 827 of the new aircraft on order from dozens of carriers and leasing companies around the world.

Boeing's mid-size aircraft represents a big bet by the Chicago-based aerospace and defense giant on cutting-edge technology and materials for commercial aircraft.

The 787 Dreamliner, half constructed with lightweight composite materials, promises 20% fuel-efficiency.

"Certification is a milestone that validates what we have promised the world since we started talking about this airplane," said Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"This airplane embodies the hopes and dreams of everyone fortunate enough to work on it. Their dreams are now coming true."

First Delivery Scheduled for Sept. 25

News of the certifications came hours after Boeing and the 787 launch customer, All Nippon Airways, announced the Japanese carrier would take first delivery of the aircraft in Everett on Sept. 25.

The plane is set to arrive in Tokyo three days later. ANA has ordered 55 Dreamliners.

The long-haul plane is crucial to Boeing's future. It is the firm's first new design in more than a decade, drawing on huge advances in aviation technology.

The 787 "really is a game-changing airplane," said Scott Fancher, head of the 787 program.

"The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an incredible technological achievement -- one that sets a new standard for innovation," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday in a separate FAA statement.

"The new engine technology is fuel-efficient and reduces noise, minimizing the impact on the environment."

'Not Out of the Woods' Yet

Developed with an international team of aerospace partners, the Dreamliner program is running about three years behind schedule because of production snags.

Boeing, the world's second-biggest aircraft maker after Airbus, launched the Dreamliner program in April 2004 and initially had planned to deliver the first plane to ANA in the first half of 2008.

But the aircraft, which can seat up to 330 passengers, only made its maiden flight in December 2009.

The series of delays in the 787 program has cost Boeing billions of dollars as some airlines canceled their orders.

Despite clearing the certification hurdle, "the company is still not out of the woods on every detail though," said Paul Ausick, at 24/7WallSt.com.

"In addition to being years late, the Dreamliner is also billions of dollars over budget, although the company has not published a figure."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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