Up In the Air

United Airlines ups the Dreamliner ante, orders more new stretch planes — and look at that fuel burn

United Airlines ups Dreamliner ante, orders more new stretch planes

More state-of-the-art aircraft are on the way for United Airlines, which has increased an order from The Boeing Company to include 20 additional 787-10s. The Chicago-based carrier expects the first delivery of the newest model in 2018, as the North American "launch customer" for the wide-body jet.

Add that to the six recently-delivered 787-8 Dreamliners currently in service, and additional orders underway for 39 planes of the -8 and -9 variants, making a total of 65 new aircraft to be delivered from the manufacturer. 

"Advanced technology aircraft like the 787-10 are key to United's future, enabling us to fly fuel-efficient, customer-pleasing aircraft that are the right size for many long-haul markets in our unparalleled network," Jeff Smisek, chairman, president and CEO of United, said in a statement.

The Boeing 787-10 is a "stretched version of the 787-09," designed to seat up to 330 passengers (compared to the 210 to 290 seats on current Dreamliner models). The New York Times reports that the newest Dreamliner will compete with the Airbus A350-XWB. 

The plane is said to offer the lowest fuel burn per seat of any aircraft in its size category, without giving up added comforts like larger windows, bigger overhead bins and lower cabin altitude. (It was these features that impressed CultureMap's jet-setting editor-in-chief Clifford Pugh on a recent flight from Houston to Chicago.)