US airframer Boeing flew the latest variant of the Dreamliner, the 787-9, to Auckland, home of launch customer Air New Zealand, marking the 787-9’s international debut and its longest flight since flight testing on this new variant began.
Aircraft number ZB002 registered N787FT, the second of three 787-9s dedicated to the flight-test program, flew 13 hours and 49 minutes non-stop, direct from Seattle’s Boeing Field to Auckland International Airport, departing January 3 at 09:55 local time. After the visit, ZB002 proceeded on to Alice Springs, Australia, for testing in hot weather.
The 787-9 is a larger aircraft compared to the existing 787-8 Dreamliners currently operating. Its fuselage is stretched by 20 feet (6 meters) to seat an additional 40 passengers and can fly an additional 300 nautical miles (555 km).
Boeing is confident of delivering the first 787-9 to launch customer Air New Zealand in mid-2014. Twenty-six customers from around the world have ordered 402 787-9s, accounting for 39 percent of all 787 orders.