Boeing is hard at work, testing its 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The massive plane is about halfway through its flight testing, though it has more than half of its required flight hours to complete before the Boeing's deadline.
The 787 Dreamliner is a particularly wide-bodied jet that Boeing claims as its most fuel-efficient design. It's the first major aircraft to use composite materials for its construction, and will probably seat somewhere between 210 and 330 passengers, depending on the specific version.
This week, Boeing announced the "firm configuration," solid plans, for the 787-9, a lengthened version of the Dreamliner. The 787-9 is about 20 feet longer than the 787-8, seating about 40 more. It also has a higher fuel capacity, longer range (up to 8,500 miles), a higher maximum take-off weight, and, hopefully, none of the design problems that struck the 787-8.
The 787-8 has had a few hiccups in its testing. Sections of the fuselage, built by Alenia in Italy, began wrinkling, causing a shutdown in work. That comes after flight testing was halted last year due to a problem with the horizontal section of the tail fin.
Boeing's deadline is the end of 2010. They'll probably release another design, the 787-10, before then.