Dreamliner prototype, ZA001, arrives for permanent display at Nagoya: Boeing, Chris Jue

As the first Dreamliner to appear, and eventually fly, 787 ZA001 is now a beautiful part of the history of flight, at Nagoya’s Centrair International Airport.

Some airports display historic DC-3s or military transports, a few have early jets or turbo-props, but through its donation by Boeing, Nagoya now has the unique distinction of permanently displaying the jet that began the hi-tech composites materials age in air transport.

The Dreamliner’s main wing and fuselage sections were built by Japan’s aerospace industry and then flown from Nagoya’s Centrair airport to the US for final assembly.

At the handover ceremony yesterday Boeing’s president Japan, George Maffeo, said “It is fitting that we bring Boeing’s first-ever 787 Dreamliner, also known as ZA001, back home to Nagoya, the heart of Japan’s aerospace industry.

“Many of our partners here spent countless hours to develop and produce the 787 Dreamliner’s airframe structure and Centrair was with us from the very start of the journey. ZA001 carried all of our dreams and aspirations, and has grown to symbolize the storied partnership between Boeing and Japan’s outstanding aerospace industry.”

Japan’s major airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, have ordered in total 128 Dreamliners out of more than 1100 sales of the 787.

ZA001 is the last of three original flight test 787-8s that Boeing has donated to inspire future generations, communities and aviation enthusiasts around the world. Previously, Boeing donated ZA002 to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Ariz. and ZA003 to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

It was rolled out at a ceremony in Everett north of Seattle on 8 July 2007 (or  on 7-8-7 using the US calendar convention) but because of design and completion delays first flew on 15 Dec. 15 2009, much later than anticipated.

ZA001 began a six Dreamliner flight test and certification program for the 787-8, and the program became the fastest selling twin engined wide body in Boeing’s history. Dreamliners are now in widespread service, including  with Jetstar,  and a stretch of the original 787-8 model, the -9, is considered highly likely to begin entering service with Qantas in 2017.

Dreamliners are likely to be in service until the middle of this century, although most likely using non-fossil carbon releasing fuels.

In time the skies will see new shapes of airliners using evolved or derived composite materials that can be traced back to the Nagoya 787, and it will still be a sight to behold, giving those who arrive at Centrair’s terminals a glimpse of a distant, intriguing past.

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