Boeing South Carolina’s third customer will fly away Friday morning with its first 787 Dreamliner.
Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth-largest airline, took delivery of its inaugural 787 Thursday and, after a ceremony at the North Charleston delivery center, will leave for Asia.
It will cap a busy holiday week for the local plane-making plant, which on Tuesday delivered its first 787 to China Southern Airlines, Asia’s biggest airline by fleet size.
Boeing announced the handover to Hainan, the 13th airline to get a Dreamliner, early Thursday morning.
In statements, one of Boeing’s top Asian sales executive said the Chicago-based airframer was “pleased to celebrate another historic moment in our long-term relationship with Hainan Airlines,” and an airline executive called it “a great day” as it will open new routes from Beijing to North America.
The plane will take off from North Charleston around 9:30 a.m. and make a stop for fuel before continuing on to China, according to Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger.
Once the new Dreamliner is in China, Hainan will fly it domestically to start, then on routes from the Chinese capital to cities like Chicago, Seattle and Toronto.
The jet, which sports a red and yellow paint scheme, holds 36 full, flat-bed business seats configured in rows of 2-2-2, as well as 177 economy seats configured in rows of 3-3-3, according to the announcement.
The delivery is the local Boeing plant’s ninth 787 delivery overall. Air India took the first seven from North Charleston, including two that were made at Boeing’s wide-body headquarters in Everett, Wash. And on Tuesday, China Southern flew away its first SC-built 787, that airline’s second overall.
More deliveries are on the way. Hainan, China Southern, Air India and Qatar Airways all have jets that are sitting parked on the North Charleston complex’s flight line.
Boeing delivered 3 787s in 2011; 46 787s last year; and, as of Wednesday, another 17 787s this year. The majority of the 2013 deliveries have come since April when the Federal Aviation Administration lifted its battery-related grounding of the 787 fleet.
Boeing is making seven 787s per month now, including about 2 per month in North Charleston, and is aiming to be making 10 per month by the end of the year, including about 3 per month from the local plant.
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