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Boeing gets set to fly Dreamliner

Test flights of new 787 plane will start in autumn

Test flights of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner plane will start in the fourth quarter of this year.

The revolutionary new Dreamliner is the fastest selling new commercial jetliner in history, but test flights have been put back from summer 2007 due to various production issues.

Speaking at this week’s Farnborough Air Show, Boeing vice president and general manager of the 787 programme, Pat Shanahan, said: "We are currently in the build-verification testing process, which validates electronics and hardware on the airplane to make sure they are functioning properly".

"Things will really get exciting when we fuel the airplane and start the engines and APU for the first time. After that, we'll move forward into gauntlet testing, which is a series of ground-based tests where we trick the airplane's systems into thinking that it is airborne. Then we'll conduct taxi tests and the airplane will take to the skies," Shanahan added.

Etihad Airways is the latest airline to order the Dreamliner. It announced an order for 35 787-9 planes at Farnborough, as well as 10 777-300ERs.

"The new-generation Boeing aircraft we have ordered are among the most fuel efficient and will help maintain Etihad's fleet as one of the youngest and greenest in the sky," said Etihad Airways CEO, James Hogan.

So far Boeing has 896 orders from 58 customers for the Dreamliner. Japanese airline All Nippon Airways will be the first airline to begin commercial flights on the new plane. UK airlines which have ordered the 787 include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Monarch Airlines and First Choice Airways.

Written by: Nick Purdom