If all goes well, then December 15, 2009, will be the day that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft takes flight for the first time. If successful, this lead aircraft and six others will go through a six month test program flying around the clock.
That first flight being two and a half years late. And cost Boeing some of orders for their product. But so far, 840 orders are still on the books for the aircraft giant.
Boeing is hoping that it can really make this 80% composite material of carbon and titanium aircraft the most fuel efficient airliner out there on the market today.
Wheels up is expected to be 10 am Pacific time assuming good visibility and decent weather. It will be a four hour flight from the plant north of Seattle and travelling over Puget Sound and over Washington state. The first 787 should be certified and delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airways next year.
Airbus also has a lightweight aircraft in development. Its A350 will also be made of carbon-composite materials.
The other civilian Airbus product, the A380 double decker airliner; is limited by the number of airports in the world that can handle that aircraft. Recently, the A400M military transport finally took flight for the first time as well.
Construction issues for this new building material for a vehicle of this size was partly responsible for the delays. Shortage of parts and the two-month long strike last year didn't help things.
Ref. BBC, December 15, 2009. "Boeing 787 Dreamliner prepares for first flight" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8413466.stm).
Reuters, December 15, 2009. "Boeing set for first flight of 787" by Kyle Peterson. (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5BE20720091215).
This Blog, December 11, 2009. "Airbus A400M Military Transport First Flight" (http://aerospacedreams.blogspot.com/2009/12/airbus-a400m-military-transport-first.html).