10:47am

Wed October 26, 2011
The Two-Way

787 Dreamliner Completes First Commercial Flight

Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner completed its first commercial flight today. The All Nipon Airways flight flew from Narita to Hong Kong and took about four hours.

As we've reported, the road to this day has been long and full of troubles. The plane is making its debut years delayed and billions of dollars over budget.

But the reviews have been glowing. The Telegraph writes:

The reason for the sake and dragons is that the 787 is a genuinely revolutionary aircraft in everything but its appearance. On the ground that cavernous fuselage actually looks rather portly. This is the fully Cumberland porker, not a measly chipolata. What begins to give the game away are the wings, which are as slender as filleting knives, trailing edge curved in the shape of some exotic bay, and are flicked up almost coquettishly at their ends. They are structures of exceptional beauty.

In flight they flex like diving boards. And therein lies their marvel: they change shape for optimum aerodynamic efficiency. What is deceptive about the Dreamliner is not that its interest is skin deep, but that the interest is with the skin itself. It is the first airliner to be made of plastic. More than half the basic structure, including the fuselage and wings, is constructed, not of traditional aluminum, but of new composite materials such as carbon fibre reinforced plastic.

Now call us vain, but we were taken by the things that were skin-deep. The AP reports that the 787's lavatories are not only equipped with a bidet, but they also have a window.

As my co-blogger suggested, it really gives another meaning to "Moon Over Miami."

Here's the AP with a little more on those windows:

The most noticeable feature of the 787 for fliers is its windows, which are 30 percent larger than those on older jets. Passengers no longer need to hunch forward to see the ground. Those in the middle of the plane can even glance out part of the windows. Instead of shades, the windows come equipped with a glare-reducing, dimming system.

The inaugural flight was filled with aviation enthusiasts who paid thousands for a seat.

Stephanie Wood of Davie, Fla. paid almost $19,000 for two business class tickets.

"It's silly, but it's a little piece of history," she told the AP. "New cars come out all the time but how often do new planes come out?"

Boeing has put its pictures of the maiden flight on its flickr page. And ANA has this video of the plane's interior:

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.