UPDATE 3-Boeing's stretched 787-9 Dreamliner makes first flight

Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:17pm EDT
 
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By Alwyn Scott

SEATTLE, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A longer version of Boeing Co's Dreamliner successfully completed its first flight on Tuesday, passing a key milestone for a plane expected to be more profitable for Boeing to sell and its customers to operate than the current production model.

The 787-9 jet, which landed at 4:18 pm PST (2318 GMT) at Boeing Field in Seattle, has room for 290 passengers, 40 more than the original 787-8 jetliner, and has about 300 more nautical miles of range.

The flight brought no immediate bad news for a plane that has been plagued by problems from minor issues with its brakes to electrical panel fires and overheating batteries that caused the 787-8 fleet to be grounded for three months earlier this year while Boeing redesigned the battery system.

"We call that a no-squawk flight," Capt. Mike Bryan, senior project pilot for the 787-9, said after landing, referring to minor problems that often crop up on new planes.

He said there were some small "setting up" messages that were present before the flight, but these were not new issues. The messages don't prevent the flight but need to be checked before take off, Boeing later said.

"We have nothing to work that's new and we're ready for another flight, as quick as we can go," Bryan said. He later said the next test flight was likely to occur on Thursday.

Bryan and co-test pilot Randy Neville, chief 787 test pilot, said they worked through numerous tests during the flight, including checking a stick shaker test for stalls, an alert system that warns of potentially perilously low speed.   Continued...