MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Boeing hands over the first 787 Dreamliner to launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) in 2011.

10,000 people attended the special outdoor ceremony at the Boeing Everett factory, Washington, with Airways’ very own Chris Sloan in attendance to cover the handover. Attending the event were also Boeing employees who had worked on the aircraft and ANA employees.

The star of the show, of course, was the test aircraft ZA002, the second Boeing 787-8 off the production line.

While the weather may not have been ideal for an outdoor ceremony, the conditions could not dampen the mood of those in attendance who had worked so hard on the project. Photo: Chris Sloan

An Aviation Milestone

As the world’s first carbon-composite passenger airliner, the Dreamliner was one of the most anticipated aircraft. Speaking at the time, VP and Chief 787 Project Engineer Mike Sinnett said that the aircraft was “the most significant product in Boeing’s history since the launch of the 707.”

However, the project had not been without its troubles. Originally projected to enter service in May 2008, the aircraft was over three years late. Boeing had hit a number of delays after suffering supply chain issues, design changes, structural issues, and problems with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. Costs and overruns were estimated at the time to have cost the company US$30bn.

Explaining the customer enhancements of the 787, Blake Emery, director of differentiation strategy at Boeing, noted, “It’s not so much about the individual features: the high-arched ceilings, massive stowage bins, LED [light-emitting diode] lighting, lower cabin 6,000 feet [1,800m] pressurization, humidified cabin, ride smoothing technology, or the picture frame windows 65% larger than an Airbus, that will make this the ’plane of choice. It’s the entire package.”

Emery added, “We are working toward articulated needs—such as size of overhead bins and width of seats—that airlines and passengers ask for, and the unarticulated needs—cabin pressurization and larger windows—that come directly from deep research. People will feel better on this aircraft, even if they don’t know why.”

ANA staff handed out ‘First Flight’ scarves which were used by many in attendance as shelter from the rain. Photo: Chris Sloan

Launch Customer

ANA had been deeply involved in the design of the Boeing 787, after placing an initial order for 50 examples on April 26, 2004. The Japanese carrier became Boeing’s first non-US launch customer for a new wide-bodied aircraft.

ANA’s Senior Vice President Satoru Fujiki pointed out at the event that ANA was the second-largest airline in Asia (in terms of revenue), and the 787 was the key toward ANA’s continuing rise to the top tier of world-class airlines.

Fujiki-san added that he was proud that ANA would be ‘First to Fly’ an aircraft ‘Made with Japan’, as Fuji and Mitsubishi were major partners in the 787’s design and construction.

After three days of celebrations, September 27 saw the first delivery flight. With a plane loaded with ANA employees, ship JA801A departed Everett at 0719PST bound nonstop for Haneda.

Featured image: The star of the handover ceremony was ship ZA002. The test aircraft is now on display at Pima Air and Space Museum, Arizona. Photo: Chris Sloan. Article source: ‘Dreamliner Dream Finally Comes True for ANA’ by Chris Sloan, Airways Magazine, December 2011 issue.