March 31 (UPI) -- The Boeing Company on Friday successfully carried out the maiden flight for its new 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft -- a flight that lasted for nearly five hours.
The 787-10, assembled at Boeing's South Carolina plant in North Charleston, is nearly 40 feet longer than the first Dreamliner, and 18 feet longer than the 787-9. The updated aircraft can carry a maximum of 440 people, nearly 20 percent more than the 787-8's capacity.
Friday's flight time totaled 4 hours and 58 minutes as the jetliner departed and returned to Charleston International Airport.
"The 787-10's first flight moves us one step closer to giving our customers the most efficient airplane in its class," Boeing Airplanes President Kevin McAllister said in a statement. "The airplane will give carriers added flexibility in growing their network routes and build on the overwhelming success of the 787 Dreamliner family."
The pilots conducted several tests of the plane Friday to evaluate its handling, on-board systems and flight controls.
"From takeoff to landing, the airplane handled beautifully and just as expected," Timothy Berg, Boeing's chief 787 pilot, said. "The 787-10 is a fantastic machine that I know our customers and their passengers will love."
Boeing said the new model is more fuel efficient than the 787's previous incarnations and is 10 percent better than competing aircraft. It is designed to compete directly against the Airbus A350-900.
Since its introduction in 2011, the 787 has been the subject of various safety reviews -- most notably one involving the lithium-ion batteries used to power some of the plane's on-board systems which prompted a temporary removal of the Dreamliner from service.
Two major American carriers fly the 787 -- American and United -- and 149 airlines worldwide have already placed orders for the 10 model. United, which presently operates 30 Dreamliners in its fleet, has ordered 14 of the new 787-10s. American has not yet placed any orders but operates 24 of the 787's 8 and 9 models.