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Boeing rolls out 787-9 Dreamliner

Company clears big hurdle with more advanced version of its touted aircraft after year marked by several mechanical issues.

Charles Cooper Former Executive Editor / News
Charles Cooper was an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet.
Charles Cooper
The 787-9 Dreamliner Boeing

Boeing said it has completed the first 787-9 Dreamliner, the second member of its touted family of commercial aircraft.

This second member of Boeing's 787 family is 20 feet longer than the Boeing 787-9 and can hold 40 more passengers. On the specifications front, the 787-9 is also an improvement over its predecessor, flying roughly 300 nautical miles longer while burning 20 percent less fuel. Boeing built the 787 with carbon-fiber composites instead of aluminum, which saves substantial weight.

Boeing said Air Zealand will be the first recipient of the new aircraft, sometime in mid-2014.

The company could use some good news. 2013 hasn't been a great year for Dreamliner sales. Boeing has had five new orders for passenger versions of the 747-8 but that has been offset by cancellations of five others. The Dreamliner project has also been marked by periodic setbacks, with some suggesting that profitability for the plane won't come until the 2020s.

Earlier in the summer, All Nippon Airways discovered wireless problems with the Dreamliner's fire extinguishing units for the aircraft's engines. Also, the company was forced to ground the 787 for fourth months after problems related to its lithium ion batteries surfaced in January.

Boeing shows 787 Dreamliner off in Paris (pictures)

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