Boeing's new Dreamliner 787-9 has touched down after the successful completion of its first flight in the skies above Washington. The 5-hour, 16-minute flight out of Paine Field marks the beginning of a flight-test program for the new Dreamliner variant which is expected to enter commercial service in mid-2014.

The second variant of the Dreamliner line, the 787-9 is 20 feet (6 meters) longer than the 787-8 and can carry up to 290 passengers, 40 more than its sibling. The aircraft also boasts a range of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,750 kilometers), which is 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers) further than the 787-8.

Today's inaugural flight saw the aircraft reach an altitude of 20,400 feet (6,218 meters) and an airspeed of 250 knots with Senior Project Pilot Mike Bryan and 787 Chief Pilot Randy Neville at the controls.

The first 787-9 will be joined by two additional test aircraft in coming months, one of which will be powered by General Electric GEnx engines (the other two planes are fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines).

Boeing says it is on track to deliver the 787-9 to launch customer Air New Zealand in mid-2014.

A third and even bigger variant in of the Dreamliner, the 787-10, is also in the works with deliveries slated for 2018.

Source: Boeing