Dreamliner Takes Flight

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Ground crews cheer as the Boeing 787 takes flight on December 15, 2009.

    Boeing Co. finally got its new 787 jetliner into the air, more than two years after it had intended. A local company was among those watching closely as the 787 took off on a four-hour flight over Washington state, beginning the extensive flight test program needed to obtain the plane's Federal Aviation Administration certification.

    Goodrich Aerostructures Group in Chula Vista produces the nacelle system which are parts that are key in helping the plane stop once it lands. Employees at the facility on Lagoon Drive create detail parts and provide final assembly of the thrust reversers.

    "It’s a proud and exciting day for us at Aerostructures, to see our work take flight," said company spokesperson Patrick Palmer. "Our congratulations go out to our Boeing customer and our thanks to our employees and suppliers whose hard work made it possible.

    About 5,000 employees and their families got the chance to see the parts up-close and watch the video unveiling the new plane in July 2007.

    "It’s called the dreamliner for a reason,” said employee John Becotte at the time of the unveiling two years ago. “Everybody’s been dreaming about this day, to get this kind of work in Chula Vista and continue to drive it on out of here, keep building in production.”

    The plane is the first of six 787s Boeing will use in the flight test program, expected to last about nine months and subject the planes to conditions well beyond those found in normal airline service. Chicago-based Boeing, which has orders for 840 787s, plans to make the first delivery to Japan's All Nippon Airways late next year.

    The 787 is a radical departure for Boeing: About 50 percent of the plane is made of lightweight composite materials, with large sections produced by suppliers around the globe and assembled by Boeing at Everett. The plane, Boeing says, will be quieter, produce fewer emissions and use 20 percent less fuel than comparable aircraft, while passengers will enjoy a more comfortable cabin with better air quality and larger windows.

    The version being tested will be able to fly up to 250 passengers about 9,000 miles. A stretch version will be capable of carrying 290 passengers and a short-range model up to 330.

    In April 2004, Boeing contracted with Goodrich to provide the nacelle systems for both engine variants available on the 787 - the General Electric GEnx and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000. The contract was valued at $4 billion over the initial contract period.