After a much anticipated wait, the Dreamliner 787 will finally take flight in the U.S. once again on Monday. Following its 11.a.m. central flight from Houston to Chicago, the United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) plane will officially make the first commercial flight in the U.S, with more than 250 passengers on board.
This momentous takeoff ended up taking much longer than predicted, as Boeing’s (NYSE:BA) 787 was grounded in January after the battery system caught fire on two Japanese Airlines planes. The aviation supermodel then remained grounded for 123 days as the battery system was revamped by putting more space between battery cells to prevent them from catching fire, CNBC reports.
It was an expensive setback, not only because United was forced to pull six planes from its schedule, generating an $11 million charge to the company in the first quarter, but also because it drew negative publicity to the Dreamliner that had been so highly anticipated and widely marketed.
As United advertised on every flight that its Dreamliner would transform the flying experience, CEO Jeff Smisek never predicted just how long his customers would have to wait for this transformation. Nonetheless, he still expresses confidence in his plane as his company continues to ramp up its production, stating that it will deliver 60 of the 787 planes this year.
Due to the negative publicity surrounding the plane, including a video of one Dreamliner with smoke drifting out of it in January, there is the question whether passengers will be too fearful to fly on the plane. When pressed about this concern, Henry Harteveldt, airline analyst with Hudson Crossing, replied, “There may be some who are concerned about flying on the 787, but I think they are far and few between.” He believes the plane’s new features will draw customers and help alleviate fear.
Following the flying ban that was lifted in April by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, United Airlines has been eager to get its first passengers, including the CEOs of United and Boeing, up in the air. And as of 11 a.m. central time, they’ll finally get that chance.
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