The plane's takeoff into clear blue skies after a salute and shower by an airport fire truck marked what its maker hopes will set a new benchmark in air travel. The Dreamliner won't fly any faster than the first 707 jetliner the U.S. company built a half century ago, but it's designed to make the hours aloft more pleasant for passengers and cheaper to fly for its owners.
The Dreamliner that flew today is owned by All Nippon Airways Co. A jubilant Shinichiro Ito, the airline's president and CEO, described his brand new plane as a "game changer." He acknowledged, however, that production hiccups that delayed delivery for three years had put his carrier "through hard times."
Passengers on the flight were treated to shifting hues of color, including a rainbow display as the aircraft lifted off from the tarmac in Tokyo, its engines a gentle whistle. Other amenities include windows that are 30 percent bigger and which can be dimmed electronically, seat-to-seat e-mail, bidet-equipped lavatories with their own windows, and bigger touch screen entertainment panels.