United celebrates rollout of 787

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Published: August 3, 2012

United Airlines celebrated the rollout of its first Boeing 787-8 in the special “swoop” livery at the manufacturer’s Everett, Washington plant today.

The Chicago-based carrier is the US launch customer of the type and will take delivery of the aircraft in September. The plane rolled out of the paint shop on 31 July. It is registration number N20904 and manufacturer’s serial number 34824.

“We have been awaiting this day for a while and it’s worth every bit of the wait,” says Dave Hilfman, senior vice president of sales at United, during the ceremony. “It’s going to be extraordinarily successful for United.”

United will receive four 787-8s before the end of the year, according to the airline.

The carrier has firm orders for 36 787-8s and 14 787-9s, options for 10 787-8s and a letter of intent for 50 of either variant, according to Flightglobal’s Ascend database.

United will first fly the aircraft on domestic routes before placing it on its existing route between Houston Intercontinental and Lagos, Nigeria. The 787 will be used to launch new service between Denver and Tokyo Narita in March 2013.

The airlines intends to rotate the 787-8 through all of its domestic hubs that have widebody service before it shifts to international service, says Hilfman. This includes all of the airline’s hubs except Cleveland.

United’s 219-seat 787-8 has 36 fully lie-flat business class seats in a two-two-two configuration, 72 economy plus seats and 111 economy seats in a three-three-three configuration.

All of the economy seats are a little more than 17 inches wide while economy plus seats have at least 34 inches of pitch and economy seats 31 inches of pitch. BE Aerospace supplied the economy seats.

Panasonic supplies the in-seat inflight entertainment system on United’s 787. Audio video on demand is available at each seat.

Power outlets are located at each seat in the business class cabin and there are two for every three seats in the main cabin except for in the bulkhead rows where there are three outlets.

The airline is working “aggressively” with Boeing to find an inflight wifi solution for the 787, it says.

United executives repeatedly cite the positive impact of the lower cabin pressure on the 787-8 to passenger comfort. Senior vice president of marketing and distribution Mark Bergsrud describes as the difference between being in Vail or Colorado Springs. Vail is at 2,445m above sea level while Colorado Springs is only 1,832m above sea level.

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