Three years behind schedule and several billion dollars over budget, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is finally set for its first commercial flight. The Federal Aviation Administration gave the plane its OK and Boeing will make its first delivery in September.
The plane received its so-called type certifications from U.S. and European governments, verifying that it complies with aviation standards, in a ceremony at Boeing's factory in Everett, Washington.
"Once our customers get this airplane, they'll forgive us for the fact we're a little late," Jim Albaugh, chief of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told customers and employees, a few hundred of whom gathered for the event.
The 787, Boeing's first new plane since the twin-aisle 777, is arriving late and billions of dollars over budget because of struggles with the new materials and production system the company developed for it.
"It has been tough, it has been long, but the result is there," said Patrick Goudou, executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency.
The 787 is a big deal, reports Reuters, because most of its airframe is made of light-weight carbon fiber composites that lower fuel costs by 20 percent and also allow for "a more comfortable cabin air pressure and bigger windows."
Development and construction make unprecedented use of a vast global supply chain that could slash production costs, if it delivers correctly.
"It will completely change the way that aircraft have been manufactured until now," Hamilton said.
Boeing expects a production rate of ten 787s per month by the end of 2013. Kinks in the supply chain, however, have caused several embarrassing program delays.