Business news editor of the New Zealand Herald

Auckland first call Downunder for Dreamliner

New Zealand will get its first look at Boeing's new high-tech aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, on Saturday when it touches down for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere in Auckland.

Air New Zealand said its chief pilot, Captain David Morgan, would be on board the 787-8 test aircraft, joining more than 30 Boeing staff testing the aircraft's performance as it travelled non-stop from Seattle.

About half the Dreamliner, which has suffered from a number of production delays, is made from lightweight composites, such as carbon fibre.

Boeing has said the aircraft would be 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than similar-sized planes. Air New Zealand says it expects to have its version of the aircraft, originally due to arrive at the end of 2010, in service in 2014.

The aircraft's flight path over Auckland would depend on weather and wind conditions but it is expected to arrive at Auckland Airport about 10am on Saturday. Air New Zealand will host the aircraft at its engineering base at Auckland Airport for two days before it leaves for Sydney on Tuesday.

The aircraft is the first test aircraft produced and the cabin interior is fitted with test equipment.

- NZ Herald

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