Boeing plans to make the first flight of the 787-9 next week, a stretch version of its high-tech Dreamliner. A flight next week will put Boeing on the early side of its schedule for the jet, which it said would make its first flight in the second half of 2013. The first delivery is due in mid-2014.
A flight next week also could put the 787-9 in the air before the first flight of the Bombardier CSeries, which was due to make its maiden voyage last year but has suffered a series of delays. That flight is now expected this month.
The flight, a key milestone in development of a longer version of the fuel-efficient aircraft, is tentatively planned for the middle or end of next week, although it could be delayed by technical factors and weather, the sources said.
The 787-9 is the first variant of the 787 with a stretched fuselage, 20 feet longer than the 787-8 model, seating 250–290 in three classes with a range of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,750 km).
This variant differs from the 787-8 in several ways, including structural strengthening, a lengthened fuselage, a higher fuel capacity, a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and the same wingspan as the 787-8.
Boeing is targeting the 787-9 to compete with passenger variants of the Airbus A350, A330 and will replace its own 767-400ER. Like the 787-8, it will also open up new non-stop routes, flying more cargo and fewer passengers more efficiently than the 777-200ER or A340-300/500.
The targeted date for entry into service (EIS) was planned for 2014, Boeing completed the first 787-9 Dreamliner on Aug. 24 2013. First delivery to launch customer Air New Zealand is set for mid-2014.
In June, Boeing launched the 787-10, which will add another 18 feet to the 787-9’s length, but will have a shorter range than either of the earlier jets.
The 787-9 carries a list price of USD$243.6 million, compared with USD$206.8 million for the 787-8. Boeing hasn’t disclosed a price for the 787-10.