D/FW AIRPORT — Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the long and eagerly awaited high-tech, passenger-friendly and fuel-sipping aircraft that represents much of commercial aviation’s future arrived Friday.
The Dreamliner’s worldwide tour dropped into the airport, home of American Airlines, which expects to receive the first of its 787s in late 2014.
“Wow. Is that a great-looking bird? … It’s going to look better in silver,” American CEO Tom Horton said in a brief ceremony after the plane arrived.
“Today,” Horton said, “we get another glimpse of AA’s future.” American has placed firm orders for 48 787s and has options for 52.
A crowd of at least a couple of hundred invited guests, members of news media and airport and American employees cheered and applauded as the blue Boeing plane with distinctively upswept wings landed and taxied to an American maintenance hangar. Boeing staff members invited the throng to inspect the interior, seating arrangements and cockpit of the world’s most advanced airliner.
How American will finish the carbon-fiber composite Dreamliner remains to be seen, especially as an American official said the airline is rethinking the future livery, or paint scheme, of its planes. Composite doesn’t offer the look of American’s traditional polished aluminum finish.
“We have made a decision to embark on a modernization of our brand,” Chief Commercial Officer Virasb Vahidi said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “That could culminate with a potentially new livery and logo — that’s something we are evaluating.”
Planes that American will begin receiving in 2013 offer a chance to update its red, white and blue stripes on the aluminum hull and tail logo with red and blue A’s and a stylized eagle.
American “is doing a lot of studying” to determine what the Dreamliner livery will look like, Vahidi said.
American’s paint scheme has been in use since 1967. A new exterior may also mean dropping the signature bare-metal skin, which the third-largest U.S. airline has called a fuel saver because an unpainted plane weighs less.
The brand review began about 18 months ago, Vahidi said.He didn’t give a timetable for a decision.
American consulted customers and employees, among others, as part of a “very detailed” assessment of the airline’s brand equity, or the idea that a well-known name can generate more revenue than products from a lesser-known brand, Vahidi said.
“People recognized it across the world,” he said of the brand. “It has a lot of equity in the marketplace.”
Deliveries begin next year for the first of 460 Airbus and Boeing narrow-body planes that American ordered in 2011 to refresh its main jet fleet of 610 aircraft.
This report includes material from Bloomberg News.