MIAMI — Boeing said Thursday it has begun the final assembly of the first 787-10 in North Charleston, South Carolina, a production milestone for the third and largest member of the Dreamliner family aircraft.

“As we enter the next phase of the 787-10’s development, we eagerly watch our first airplane come to life,” Ken Sanger, vice president and general manager, 787 Airplane Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes said in a statement.

Sanger highlighted that the progress of the program “demonstrates Boeing’s ability to develop great airplanes in a disciplined fashion in order to meet our customer commitments.”

The 787-10 is 18 feet (5.50m) longer than the 787-9. With 10 feet (3.05m) of that increase in the mid-fuselage section, it would not fit into Boeing’s Dreamlifters cargo airplanes, meaning it would prove too long for efficient transport from North Charleston to the Everett facility for final assembly, so final assembly of the -10 will be done exclusively in South Carolina.

This major milestone in the program was reached just a year after completing its detailed design, and just nine months after the start of the major assembly, carried out by Japan’s  Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.

Launched at the 2013 Paris Air Show, the Boeing 787-10 will accommodate 330 passengers in a two-class configuration with a range of 7,400 miles (11,900km). The 787-10 retains 95 percent commonality with the 787-9, and accounts for the 13% of all 787 orders with 154 aircraft from nine customers, including Etihad Airways, British Airways and United Airlines.

The first aircraft is expected to fly in 2017, and first delivery is scheduled for 2018 to launch customer Singapore Airlines.