|An artist impression of the new 787-8 Dreamliner [EPA]|
US-based jet maker Boeing has unveiled its new "green" passenger jet - the 787-8 Dreamliner.
The world's first large commercial jet made mostly of carbon-fibre composite materials, Boeing says the Dreamliner weighs much less than other aircraft of similar size and burns about 20 per cent less fuel.
The carbon-fibre material also makes it less prone to corrosion and cheaper to maintain, the aircraft maker says.
The jet is Boeing's first all-new passenger jet since airlines started flying the 777 in 1995, and the premiere was witnessed by thousands who packed its giant assembly plant in Seattle.
Able to fly up to 15,750 km without refuelling, it could easily manage a flight between New York and Manila, or Moscow and Sao Paulo, routes so far only open to bigger aircraft such as Boeing's 777 or 747.
World's first large commercial jet made of carbon-fibre composite materials
Weighs less than other aircraft of similar size
Burns about 20 per cent less fuel
Promises passengers more space and comfort
Nearly 700 orders placed
Set to open up new routes
First commercial flight scheduled for May 2008
Boeing hopes the Dreamliner will be used to open up profitable flight routes between cities which so far have no direct links and the 677 orders received so far suggest airlines share the same vision.
The Dreamliner's other innovations include greater levels of comfort for passengers with bigger windows, higher humidity levels within the cabin expected to reduce passenger dehydration and a new anti-turbulence system.
The first test flight for the Dreamliner, the first of three 787 models, is expected to take place by late September.
It is scheduled to start commercial service in May 2008, after Japan's All Nippon Airways receives the first of the 50 Dreamliners it has ordered.
Praise from Airbus
Louis Gallois, Airbus' co-CEO, described the unveiling of the 787 as "a great day in aviation history".
"Whenever such a milestone is reached in our industry it is always a reflection of hard work by dedicated people inspired by the wonder of flight," Gallois said in a letter to James McNerney, Boeing's chairman and CEO.
The 787-8 has an average list price of $162m, though customers typically negotiate discounts on bulk orders.
The 787 that debuted on Sunday will serve as the first of six flight-test aircrafts while two others will be used for static and fatigue tests.
The ninth jet off Boeing's assembly line will be the first one delivered to All Nippon.
On Sunday All Nippon executives acknowledged that Boeing faces production challenges but said they would do everything to make sure their orders were delivered on time.