United Airlines took delivery of its first 787-9, an extended version of Boeing Co.'s Dreamliner passenger jet, it was announced Thursday.

The carrier will become the first in North America to operate both the 787-8 and 787-9 when it launches commercial service on the new plane later this month.

United previously announced it will fly the aircraft on what will become the longest 787 route - nonstop service between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia.

Brad McMullen, vice president of North America sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, called the delivery from Paine Field near Seattle "another important milestone in the successful history of Boeing and United working together."

The 787-9 is about 20 feet longer than the 787-8. It also can fly farther and carry up to 40 more passengers, Boeing said. Right now it is assembled only in Everett, Wash. Boeing South Carolina is scheduled to begin work on its first "Dash 9" later this fall in North Charleston.

United operates 11 Dreamliners. The 54 787s that the carrier has on order include the longest model, the 787-10. That plane will be made exclusively in North Charleston.