This last year has not been kind to Boeing’s fledgling 787 Dreamliner class aeroplanes, what with the repeated electrical fires, fleet groundings and bad publicity. But Boeing is confident that it’s worked the kinks out in its newest Dreamliner iteration, the 787-9, which rolled out of the factory earlier today and is eagerly awaiting its first test flight.
The 787-9 is an extended variant of the original 787-8. The new model is 6m longer than its predecessor, with room for 40 more passengers. It also features a greater fuel capacity (and therefore longer service range) thanks to an additional forward tank, although the two variants share the same wingspan. And like the original Dreamliner, the 787-9 relies heavily of composite materials in its construction as weight-saving measures. Up to 80 per cent of the plane’s volume is composed of composite material — some 300 tonnes of carbon fibre.
Air Zealand will be the first airline to incorporate the 787-9 into its fleet. The new Boeings are expected to compete head-to-head with rival Airbus A330s when the 787-9 takes to the skies in the second quarter of 2014. [CNET]