Wings, fuselage midsection delivered for first Boeing 787

Wings, fuselage midsection delivered for first Boeing 787
The super freighter 'Dreamlifter' aircraft, carrying the massive mid-body fuselage for the first Boeing 787, taxis to the unloading area on Wednesday, May 16, 2007, in Everett.
EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - An enormous cargo plane Boeing Co. built to fly major components of its new 787 jet has delivered wings and the fuselage midsection for the first Dreamliner to the company's widebody factory.

The last major component arrived early Wednesday when the Dreamlifter, a modified 747-400, delivered the mid-body fuselage, pieces of which are made in Italy and Japan then joined together at Boeing's joint-venture partner, Global Aeronautica, in Charleston, S.C.

A day earlier, at 4:10 a.m. Tuesday, the Dreamlifter landed at Paine Field on a flight from Nagoya, Japan, to deliver the wings manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Co.

The crew in charge of unloading the wings had them out of the cavernous cargo hold by sunrise.

A 118-foot-long cargo loader with 32 wheels pulled up to the Dreamlifter after a support vehicle hooked onto the underside of the aircraft's tail, then slowly opened the rear of the plane as if it were a door.

Inside, the two nearly 100-foot-long wings were propped up high near the plane's ceiling, secured by tools that kept them in place during flight.

A handful of Boeing workers clapped and cheered as the wings slid onto the platform of the cargo loader, which then whisked them away to the factory about 25 miles north of Seattle where workers will soon begin the final stages of assembling the first 787.

To date, Boeing has sold 567 of its midsize, long-haul 787s to 44 customers. The Chicago-based aerospace company said that makes its Dreamliner the fastest-selling new jet in commercial aviation history.

Boeing has said the 787, made mostly of light, sturdy carbon-fiber composites, will burn about 20 percent less fuel than comparable jets flying today and will cost less to maintain because composites are more durable than aluminum.

Scott Strode, vice president of airplane definition and production for the 787, said a composite wing as large as the 787's has never been built before.

The plane's nose and two other fuselage sections arrived last Friday, and the horizontal stabilizer - part of the tail - was delivered in late April.

Boeing officials say the company remains on track to roll out its first 787 on July 8, the calendar equivalent of 7-8-7. The first test flight is planned for late August, and the plane is expected to enter service in May 2008.