Going long: Boeing debuts stretch version of 787 Dreamliner jet

  • Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013 12:16 p.m., Updated: Monday, August 26, 2013 5:55 p.m.
The 787-9 (above) is 20 feet longer than the 787-8. It made its debut on Saturday near Seattle. (Provided/Boeing Co.)

Boeing Co. has unveiled a new, longer version of the 787 Dreamliner that is expected to be assembled in North Charleston, perhaps by the end of next year.

Dreamliner dimensions

Measuring 206 feet from nose to tail, the new 787-9 is 20 feet longer than the 787-8.

The stretch version can carry up to 40 more passengers (250 to 290, depending on seating configuration) than the base version.

The 787-9 can fly 300 nautical miles farther, or up to 8,500 nautical miles.

The list price is $249.5 million for the 787-9 compared to $212 million for the 787-8.

Source: Boeing Co.

For now the 787-9 is being made at the company’s commercial aircraft nerve center outside Seattle. The aerospace giant gave the public its first look at the new plane Saturday, when the jet emerged from a hangar in Everett, Wash.

It will be flown in the next few weeks, Boeing said.

The company’s North Charleston campus plays a critical role in the updated version of Boeing’s newest jetliner, even though the longer model is not pieced together there — at least not yet.

“All 787-9 aft-body components are fabricated and assembled here at Boeing South Carolina, and all 787-9 mid-body components are assembled and integrated here as well,” spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said in an email Monday.

“So,” she said, “our teammates have had a hand in the airplane that was recently rolled out in Washington.”

Eslinger said the three Dreamliner final assembly lines in Everett and North Charleston are set up to build the longer planes.

“The production schedule drives where they will be assembled,” Eslinger said.

For now, the Lowcountry campus assembles only the base 787-8 model. Boeing has not said when the stretch version will be added to the mix, though executive Willy Geary estimated last month that 787-9 production could start ramping up off International Boulevard “around the fall of 2014.”

The launch customer for 787-9 is Air New Zealand. The carrier is scheduled to pick up its first jet from the Puget Sound area in mid-2014.

“The 787-9 leverages the visionary design of the 787-8 such as its exceptional environmental performance — 20 percent less fuel use and 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes — and passenger-pleasing features,” Boeing said in a statement.

An even longer version of the Dreamliner — the 787-10 — was launched by the company June 18 at the Paris Air Show. Boeing has not said where that plane will be assembled.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.

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