First Flight of Boeing’s Latest 787 Was a ‘No-Squawk’
“The airplane just did exactly as we expected,” Randy Neville, chief Boeing (NYSE:BA) 787 test pilot, said after guiding the latest iteration of the company’s Dreamliner jet through the Washington skies for its first flight on Tuesday. “There were no surprises,” he said at later news conference. “This is a beautiful machine,” added Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, on the company’s webcast shortly after takeoff.
“It’s going to be the backbone of the 787 fleet.” At 206 feet, Boeing’s 787-9 is 20 feet longer than its predecessor, holding 40 more passengers than the 250-seat 787-8, and with a greater range of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles. Like earlier versions of the plane, the “Dash Nine,” as it is known within Boeing, requires 20 percent less fuel and has 20 percent fewer emissions than other planes its size.
During the 5-hour long flight — which took the jet up to speeds of 366 knots, or 421 miles per hour, and an altitude of 20,000 feet — the only problem that arose came before the Dreamliner’s wheels left the tarmac. Captain Mike Bryan, senior project pilot for the 787-9, said there were some small “setting up” messages that were present before the flight, but those messages did not prevent takeoff. “We call that a no-squawk flight,” he said after landing, according to Reuters, referring to minor problems that often plague new planes. It was “about as close to a flawless first flight as I could have imagined,” added Mark Jenks, vice president of 787 development, during the press conference.