The Boeing Co. says federal regulators have certified the airline maker’s 787-9 Dreamliner, just in time to be delivered to its first customer later in June.
Air New Zealand is slated to be the first customer for the 787-9 airliner that will seat 280 passengers, about 40 more than the 787-8 version of the plane.
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“The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is a slightly bigger version of the 787-8,” Boeing’s website says. “Both are super-efficient airplanes with new passenger-pleasing features that bring the economics of large jet transports to the middle of the market, using 20 percent less fuel than any other airplanes of their size.”
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency approved the 787-9 version of the Dreamliner despite two problems that must be addressed but won’t prevent the plane from going into service, according to the FAA and Boeing.
"Certification of the 787-9 is confirmation that the airplane meets the highest levels of safety and performance, as demonstrated through a rigorous test program, including extensive laboratory validations, flight-test activities and thorough analysis and evaluation," Boeing said in a statement.
Boeing said one of the plane’s issues that needs to be addressed relates to the Ram Air Turbine, or RAT, used to generate electricity and hydraulic pressure to ensure pilots can control the plane even if both engines fail. Another issue has to do with a cockpit knob that controls altitude. The knob can inadvertently be rotated when pressed, sending the plane out of its air traffic control-approved altitude, unless the pilots take notice.
At a sale list price of $250 million, the 787-9 version of the plane is seen as Boeing making progress toward overcoming the problems that plagued the 787-8 version of the aircraft that went into service three years ago. The new carbon-composite jet also burns less expensive fuel. The larger 787-10 is due out in another four years.
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