The 787 Dreamliner, Boeing's first all-new plane in 12 years, has already won a record 677 orders, including 27 from Air India and 10 from Jet Airways, worth more than $100 billion, making it the most successful launch in the company's history.
Boeing rolled out its lightweight, carbon-composite plane on Sunday, described as a super-efficient flier that will provide new solutions for airlines and passengers.
The mid-sized, long-range jetliner was unveiled at a colourful ceremony at the company's Everett, Washington plant, about 50 km north of Seattle on Sunday in front of 15,000 cheering employees, customers and suppliers. Among the guests were Air India chairman and managing director Vasudevan Thulasidas and Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal.
The plane nosed its way into the main doors of Boeing's plant as the giant screen split apart after an hour-long ceremony hosted by former TV news anchor Tom Brokaw.
Thousands more watched the event live at Qwest Field stadium in Seattle, and Boeing broadcast the ceremony in 45 countries in nine languages on satellite television.
The new jet with the tail fins of its 47 customers - including the two Indian air carriers - painted on the fuselage, has a structure made up of 50 per cent carbon composite materials and another 15 per cent titanium, making it much lighter and more fuel efficient than existing jetliners of the same size.
The use of fatigue-resistant and rust-free composite materials means air in the cabin can be more humid, leaving passengers less dried out and jetlagged after a long flight. The plane, which seats nine-abreast in coach, can carry up to 330 people in its largest model. Prices range from $146 million to $200 million.
The lighter weight and newly designed engines made by General Electric Co and Rolls-Royce Plc mean air carriers will save about 20 per cent on fuel costs, Boeing claimed.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner provides passengers with a better flying experience and operators with more efficient commercial jetliners, Boeing officials said as they showed visiting international media around a mock-up of its spacious interiors.
The plane is designed to be more environment-friendly, with lower emissions and quieter takeoffs and landings. The passengers will find cleaner air, bigger windows, more stowage space and improved lighting inside.
Developed by an international team of top aerospace companies led by Boeing at its Everett facility, the 787-8 Dreamliner will carry 210-250 passengers on routes of 14,200 to 15,200 km, company officials said.
Another version, the 787-9 Dreamliner will carry 250-290 passengers on routes of 14,800 to 15,750 km, while a third, the 787-3 Dreamliner, will accommodate 290-330 passengers and be optimised for routes of 4,600 to 5,650 km.
An open architecture is at the heart of the 787's systems, which will be more simplified than today's airplanes and offer increased functionality. For example, the team is looking at incorporating health-monitoring systems that will allow the airplane to self-monitor and report maintenance requirements to ground-based computer systems.
It is expected that advances in engine technology will contribute as much as 8 per cent of the increased efficiency of the new airplane, representing a nearly two-generation jump in technology for the middle of the market, officials said.
Another improvement in efficiency will come in the way the airplane is designed and built. New technologies and processes in development will help Boeing and its supplier partners achieve unprecedented levels of performance at every phase of the programme.
For example, by manufacturing a one-piece fuselage section, Boeing is eliminating 1,500 aluminium sheets and 40,000-50,000 fasteners.
With the 787 programme opening its final assembly plant in Everett this year and with the first test flight in late August or September, first deliveries to Japan's All Nippon Airways Co (ANA) are expected next May, in time to carry passengers to the Beijing Olympics.
Forty-six other airlines and leasing companies are lining up behind ANA to take delivery of 787s, which will be wider, quicker and more fuel efficient than the 767s they are designed to replace. The 787 offers thousands of kilometres in extra range, making direct routes such as Mumbai to New York easier and cheaper to fly.