Dreamy Debut for the 787

Months ahead of actual flight time, Boeing's latest is rolled out to cheers in Washington.

Boeing posted another 35 orders for the 787 in the 24 hours before its debut, bringing the total to 677 orders. Qantas Airways, an early customer, announced Friday that it will convert 20 options to purchase the 787 into firm orders.

Marketing executives project the Dreamliner eventually could capture 60 percent of the market for smaller, midsize jets over the next 20 years. Boeing projects that sales of such aircraft worldwide will top 3,000 planes with a total value of nearly $600 billion.

"It's a total slam dunk," Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst with Virginia-based Teal Group, said of the new plane. "The real question: Does it perform as advertised?"

Airbus' chief operating officer, John Leahy, is among the skeptics, noting that the European manufacturer plans to roll out only 65 to 70 of its new midsize jets, the A350 XWB, during the first 18 months of production. Boeing plans 112 of the new planes in the same amount of time, with its first delivery slated for May.

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Fast facts


The 787 Dreamliner seats 210 to 330 passengers and can be used on long-haul flights.


Boeing estimates the aircraft could generate $250 billion in sales, or more, over 20 years. Three models are priced at $146 million to $200 million.


Launch customer is Japan's All Nippon Airways. The carrier plans to pack its aircraft with new features, including bidets.


The aircraft's first flight probably will occur in September. Boeing says the first 787 is on track for May delivery.

Source: Tribune staff reports


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