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United Airlines becomes first U.S. carrier to fly Dreamliner

November 04, 2012|By Hugo Martin
  • The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made it inaugural U.S. flight, from Houston to Chicago, on Sunday.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made it inaugural U.S. flight, from Houston to… (Chicago Tribune )

United Airlines landed its inaugural flight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Chicago O'Hare International Airport Sunday morning, becoming the first U.S. carrier to fly the composite-plastic fuselage air craft.

The twin-aisle plane, delayed more than three years by production problems at Boeing, was designed to be about 20% more fuel efficient than similar size planes and less costly to maintain than other big jets. Half the plane is made of strong and lightweight composite materials, including the fuselage and wings, instead of metal.

Boeing said the plane also offers great comfort for passengers, including dimmable windows and LED lighting that changes in different phases of flight.

Flight 1116 from Houston to Chicago was the first flight of the Dreamliner by a U.S. airline. United is scheduled to bring the Dreamliner to Los Angeles for daily nonstop flights to Narita, Japan, beginning in January.

"If you want to be the world's leading airline, you need the world's leading airplane, and this is it," United Chief Executive Jeff Smisek told the Chicago Tribune.

One complaint on the flight was the lack of Wi-Fi on what Boeing called the most technologically advanced commercial jet in the world. Smisek told reporters that Boeing was working with federal aviation authorities to certify communications equipment to maintain broadband on a composite aircraft, a process that could take until 2014 to complete.

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Follow Hugo Martin on Twitter at @hugomartin

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