Boeing unveils first 787-9 set for delivery

Boeing on Saturday rolled out the first 787-9 scheduled for delivery to Air New Zealand, the launch customer for the larger Dreamliner variant.

The jet is the first with the black version of Air New Zealand's new livery -- airplane speak for paint job -- featuring the official New Zealand Fern Mark. The airline has rolled out the main, white version across its fleet in recent months.

"This will soon be the first 787-9 aircraft anywhere in the world to operate commercially and I think it will instill a sense of pride in Kiwis and turn heads when it touches down at airports throughout Asia and the Pacific," Capt. David Morgan, Air New Zealand chief flight operations and safety officer, said in a news release.

The 787-9's fuselage is 20 feet longer than the 787-8's, allowing it to fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles. Boeing has orders from 26 customers for 405 787-9s (39 percent of all 787s), including 10 for Air New Zealand.

Mark Jenks, vice president, 787 Airplane Development, said: "With the unveiling of this beautiful airplane and our continued progress in flight test, this is an exciting time for the entire 787-9 team. We look forward to delivering the first 787-9 to Air New Zealand."

Air New Zealand plans to have the airplane begin service on its Auckland-Perth route later this year. Air New Zealand has 10 787-9s on order.