Boeing's newest, largest Dreamliner jet makes first test flight

The Dreamliner 787-10 takes off for it's maiden flight.YOUTUBE

NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina (REUTERS) - Boeing's newest and largest Dreamliner model, the 787-10, took off successfully on its first flight on Friday (March 31), kicking off a flight test programme for the high-tech jet.

The plane, which sells for US$312.8 million (S$437.2 million) at list price and rounds out a family of three carbon-fibre composite Dreamliners, is being built exclusively at Boeing's factory in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The facility is Boeing's only jetliner assembly factory outside of Washington state and, in contrast to the others, is not unionised.

Employees and guests at the inaugural flight of the new Dreamliner at the Charleston International Airport, March 31, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Last month, the same plane provided a dramatic backdrop for President Donald Trump's visit to the Boeing factory on Feb 17, where he promised to boost US manufacturing and punish companies for moving jobs overseas.

Companies in Japan, China, Italy, Sweden, France and Britain produce many of the 787's major components, such as wings, fuselage sections and the rudder. Airlines can choose engines from General Electric of the US, or Britain's Rolls-Royce Holdings.

The first 787-10 took off from the runway around 9.38am (9.38pm Singapore time) on an initial flight lasting four hours.

The 787-10 is the second and final "stretch," or elongation, of the original 787-8, which debuted in 2011.

The 787-10 seats 330 passengers in a typical cabin configuration, 40 more than the 787-9 and 88 more than the 787-8.

The 787 family has been a top seller, logging about 1,200 firm orders. So far, the 787-10 has booked 149 orders from nine customers, about 12 per cent of the total of firm orders. The mid-sized 787-9 has captured just over half the total.

After spending 2017 in testing, the 787-10 is expected to enter service with airlines in 2018.