Passengers of the first commercial flight of a 787 Dreamliner arrive in… (Vincent Yu, AP )
For the first time, Japanese airline All Nippon Airways took to the skies carrying paying passengers aboard the world's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The much-anticipated passenger flight Wednesday was a charter trip from Narita, near Tokyo, to Hong Kong that took about four hours.
The 787 Dreamliner is an all-new commercial jetliner that Boeing Co. says is the most advanced, fuel-stingy passenger jet ever made. It features a suite of new technologies, such as the largest windows on a commercial jetliner and the extensive use of strong, lightweight carbon composites rather than sheets of aluminum.
But the new aircraft is more than three years late because of design problems and supplier issues.
The 787, which will seat 210 to 290 passengers, is the first new class of aircraft launched by Boeing since the 777 in 1995. There are 821 orders for the plane from airlines and aircraft leasing firms around the world. On Wednesday's flight, there were about 240 journalists and aviation enthusiasts aboard.
Not only is the event momentous in aviation history, but it's also good for Boeing's business, said Paul Sheridan, head of risk advisory at aviation consulting firm Ascend Worldwide Ltd.
"Airlines are, if anything, even more keen to get their hands on the aircraft," he said. "The advanced technology used in the 787 means that, in spite of the delays, it is still ahead of its time. The size and range of the aircraft offers airlines the ability to open new long-haul routes linking a range of cities that would have been uneconomic with other aircraft types in the market."
Chicago-based Boeing also issued its third-quarter earnings Wednesday, saying profit rose to $1.1 billion, or $1.46 per share, from $837 million, or $1.12 per share, in the same period last year. Earnings exceeded analysts' estimate of $1.10 a share.
Boeing shares closed up $2.84, or about 5%, at $66.56.