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Boeing celebrates Dreamliner rollout

EVERETT, Wash. -- Boeing Co. unveiled its first fully assembled 787 yesterday to thousands who packed into its wide-body assembly plant for the plane's extravagantly orchestrated premiere.

With flight attendants on stage from each airline that has ordered the jet, the giant factory doors opened wide as the plane, called the Dreamliner, moved into view.

Boeing has won 677 orders from customers eager to hold the jet maker to its promise that the mid size, long-haul jet will burn less fuel, be cheaper to maintain, and offer more passenger comforts than comparable planes.

The 787, Boeing's first all-new jet since airlines started flying the 777 in 1995, will be the world's first large commercial airplane made mostly of carbon-fiber composites, which are lighter, more durable, and less prone to corrosion than aluminum.

Boeing has sold out delivery positions for the 787 through 2015, two years after Airbus SAS expects to roll out its competing A350 XWB. In a rare tip of the hat to the competition, Airbus congratulated Boeing on the 787, whose commercial success has chipped away at the edge the European plane maker once held over its Chicago-based rival.

"Even if tomorrow Airbus will get back to the business of competing vigorously, today is Boeing's day -- a day to celebrate the 787," Airbus co-CEO Louis Gallois said in a letter to Boeing.