The 787-9 is seen by some observers as the 787 program done right. Indeed Boeing has applied lessons learned (and there are countless number of lessons) to the stretch of their new airplane. The results have been excellent as it appears that Boeing has learned from past mistakes of the 787-8.
This week the 787-9 passed several milestones on the road to certification, delivery and entry into service. We saw the rollout of the first production 787-9 for Air New Zealand, ZB003 (LN 169, ZK-NZE) from the Everett paint hangar. The aircraft was beautiful in ANZ black and white scheme and is easily the best scheme on a 787. This aircraft, which apparently has its passenger cabin all fitted out, went back into the EMC hangar for more change incorporation work as the FAA signs off on the tests as they are accomplished by the test flight fleet.
Boeing is adding 2 production 787-9 to the test flight program for functionality and reliability testing (F & R) and ETOPs testing. The last of these two aircraft, which is destined to be delivered to United Airlines in about 3 months time, was rolled out last night on April 8th and is ZB167 (LN 181). It will do the F & R/ETOPs testing for the GEnx engines and I am guessing that it could start that testing as early the 1st or 2nd week of May. This aircraft has its passenger cabin installed.
The first aircraft to conduct F & R/ETOPs testing is ZB197 (LN 146, JA830A) which is to be delivered to ANA probably sometime this year. This aircraft also has its passenger cabin fitted out. It will conduct the same testing on the Roll Royce engines. It had conducted its B-1 flight today, April 9th and will stage the flight testing from Boeing Field. I believe that ZB197 should complete its flight test duties sometime around the end of May to early June.
Given these development this past week, it appears that Boeing is well on its way to delivering the 787-9.