Japan’s All Nippon Airways and aviation giant Boeing said on Friday the airline will receive the world’s first 787 Dreamliner on Sept. 25, more than three years later than first planned.
The plane will officially be handed over in Everett, in the US state of Washington, before being flown to Tokyo, where it is scheduled to arrive three days later on Sept. 28, the companies said in a joint statement.
“The airplane is ready. ANA is ready. And Boeing is ready,” Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement. “This airplane begins a new chapter in aviation history.”
ANA is the launch airline for the troubled 787 program and has 55 of the aircraft on order.
Boeing had originally promised to roll out the aircraft in 2008, but a string of technical mishaps and delays have slowed testing programs for the jets.
The highly anticipated 787 Dreamliner is made out of lighter materials that help increase its fuel efficiency, while it boasts larger windows and more humid cabin air than conventional jets.
Boeing says this will allow passengers to arrive at their destinations more refreshed.
Shinichiro Ito, president and CEO of ANA Group, said that the Dreamliner “will play an important role in our international expansion strategy as we seek to become Asia’s number one airline.”
Boeing said later on Friday that the 787 had won approval from US and EU regulatory authorities for production of the aircraft.
The mid-sized plane is crucial to Boeing’s future. It is the maker’s first new design in more than a decade, drawing on huge advances in aviation technology, and can fly long-haul routes using up to 20 percent less fuel.
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. However, the aircraft, which can seat up to 330 passengers, only made its maiden flight in December 2009.
The delays in the 787 program cost Boeing billions of dollars as some airlines canceled orders.
Another Boeing project, the 747-8, is a longer and more fuel-efficient update of Boeing’s double-decker 747 jumbo jet and will compete with European rival Airbus’s A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane. That program is running two years behind schedule.
ANA this week said it would conduct the first commercial 787 flights from Tokyo to Hong Kong in October, followed by regular services to Beijing and Frankfurt.
The aircraft’s first regular international service will start from December for the Haneda-Beijing route, followed by the Dreamliner’s first regular long-haul international operation between Haneda and Frankfurt from January.
“This airplane embodies the hopes and dreams of everyone fortunate enough to work on it,” Albaugh said. “Their dreams are now coming true.”