Earlier this month, the last parts for United Airlines’ (formerly Continental Airlines) first 787 arrived at Boeing’s Everett, Washington facility to begin final assembly. The aircraft’s center fuselage arrived at Paine Field aboard the Dreamlifter just before All Nippon Airways first 787 was unveiled on August 6, and the forward fuselage arrived from Wichitaon August 4.
I managed to capture this particular aircraft at both ends of the supply chain, having photographed the aircraft’s 43 Section at Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Nagoya last September before it was shipped to Charleston for integration. In the overnight hours Tuesday, the fuselage sections are expected to be loaded into final body join at position one inside the factory.
This aircraft, Airplane 45, is expected to inaugurate service between the carrier’s Houston hub and Auckland, New Zealand after it is delivered in early 2012. The 6444nm journey will be the first route for the 787 to take advantage of the 330 minute ETOPS certification that will be available when the fuel quantity indication system software is updated early next year.
Continental has said they will outfit the aircraft with 228 seats – 38 business and 192 economy – but this announcement was made well before the merger with United. Delivery will happen after the carriers receive its single operating certificate, and may represent the single airline’s new long-haul product combining features of both.