For the first time, Japanese airline All Nippon Airways took to the skies carrying paying passengers aboard the world’s first Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner.
The much-anticipated maiden passenger flight Wednesday was a charter trip from Narita to Hong Kong that took about four hours.
The 787 Dreamliner is an all-new commercial jetliner that Boeing says is the most advanced, fuel-stingy passenger jet ever made. It features a suite of new technologies, such as the largest windows on a commercial jetliner and an extensive use of strong, lightweight carbon composites rather than sheets of aluminum.
PHOTOS: The future of commercial flight
But the new aircraft is more than three years late due to design problems and supplier issues.
The 787, which will seat 210 to 290 passengers, is the first new class of aircraft launched by Boeing since the 777 in 1995. There are 821 orders for the plane from airlines and aircraft leasing firms around the world.
Boeing posted some photos of events before and after Wednesday's flight on its Flickr account here.
The Associated Press reported that there were 240 journalists and aviation enthusiasts aboard -- and that some of the passengers paid thousands of dollars for a seat.
Stephanie Wood of Davie, Fla., told the AP that she won a charity auction and paid nearly $18,700 for two business-class seats.
"It's silly, but it's a little piece of history,” she said. “New cars come out all the time but how often do new planes come out?"
Not only is the event momentous, it's also good for Boeing's business, said Paul Sheridan, head of risk advisory at aviation consultancy Ascend Worldwide Ltd.
“Airlines are, if anything, even more keen to get their hands on the aircraft," he said. "The advanced technology used in the 787 means that, in spite of the delays, it is still ahead of its time. The size and range of the aircraft offers airlines the ability to open new long-haul routes linking a range of cities that would have been uneconomic with other aircraft types in the market.”
Chicago-based Boeing also issued its third-quarter earnings Wednesday, saying profit rose to $1.1 billion, or $1.46 per share, from $837 million, or $1.12 per share, when compared to the same period last year.
Boeing delivers first 787 Dreamliner to All Nippon Airways
Take a look inside All Nippon Airways' 787 Dreamliner ... Is that a bidet?
Boeing 787 Dreamliner the first of a new generation of aircraft
-- W.J. Hennigan
Photo: All Nippon Airways passengers arrive in Hong Kong after maiden 787 Dreamliner commercial flight. Credit: Boeing Co. via Flickr.