Boeing test pilots lifted the nose of 787 Dreamliner during a 130-knot run down the runway at Paine Field Saturday in what is likely the precursor for a first flight on Tuesday. Last week Boeing announced the prototype had been structurally approved by company engineers and would be ready for first flight beginning Dec. 15, complete with a webcast that goes live 24 hours prior to first flight. The flight is expected to take about three hours and transfer the 787 from Paine Field to Boeing Field, near Seattle. As for the exact date, weather won't be the only determining factor. The company says that it will perform internal reviews and still needs final paperwork from the FAA. The aircraft is two years behind schedule, but for a project still in development, it has also attracted a record number of orders (totaling about 850, back in August) ... and many cancellations.
The promise of the 787 is that of a higher-efficiency airliner that consumes 20 percent less fuel than comparable aircraft and costs 30 percent less to maintain. The project has been beset with multiple delays and, most recently, unforeseen structural complications. Current prices have the Dreamliner selling for anywhere from $105 million to $205 million, according to Reuters.