Despite clocking up close to a thousand orders, it hasn't all been smooth sailing for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner with two lithium-ion battery fires grounding the fleet earlier this year and a Honeywell-built emergency beacon catching fire on a Dreamliner at Heathrow Airport last month. The company took a step toward putting that behind it on Saturday when the first 787-9 Dreamliner variant rolled out at the Everett, Washington assembly plant. The first 787-9 off the line is scheduled to be delivered to Air New Zealand next year.

The twin-engine, twin-aisle 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s mid-sized airliner aimed at the middle market. It’s the first major airliner to make heavy use of composite materials and, according to Boeing, it uses 20 percent less fuel and has 20 percent fewer emissions than other planes in its class. It also boasts higher cabin pressure and humidity, larger windows with electrochromic smart glass and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (567 mph, 490 knots, 913 km/h).

The 787-8 made its first passenger flight in October 2011.

The 787-9 is the second of three variants of the Dreamliner. It is 20 ft (6 m) longer than the 787-8 for a total length of 206 ft (63 m) and carries 250 to 290 passengers – 40 more than the 787-8. It also boasts a greater range of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,750 km), which is 300 nautical miles (555 km) more than its predecessor.

A second and third 787-9 Dreamliner's are in final assembly and the first plane is expected to make flight tests in the coming weeks as it is prepared for final delivery.

Source: Boeing