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This week, I visited Boeing’s South Carolina facility in Charleston, home to a massive Dreamliner manufacturing plant and the final assembly point of all extended-length Boeing 787-10s. The occasion? Air Tahiti Nui took delivery of its very first 787-9, and I joined the delivery flight to Los Angeles (LAX) via Oklahoma City (OKC).

But as significant as that delivery was for the Air Tahiti Nui team and frequent travelers to the airline’s hub in Papeete (PPT), there was an even more notable aircraft positioned front and center just a few feet away — United’s first 787-10.

Just last week, United confirmed the inaugural flight for its 787-10, with the aircraft flying from Los Angeles (LAX) to Newark (EWR) on January 7, 2019. It’ll then remain on that route indefinitely, and will be added to the airline’s San Francisco (SFO) to Newark (EWR) route as well. We may also see -10s flying from Newark to premium destinations in Europe as early as next summer.

To me, that LAX launch schedule implies a December delivery timeline, but during a chat with Boeing during the Air Tahiti Nui event, it became clear that the first -10 will make its way to United’s fleet even sooner than that.

As of now, the airline’s expected to sign the necessary paperwork on November 2, though there likely won’t be a delivery event in South Carolina — instead, the plane may fly off to the West Coast, with a launch event scheduled there (Los Angeles, perhaps?) later in November or December.

United was unable to confirm any details related to the 787-10 delivery, though it’s likely that plans for an official media unveiling are still in the works — while the airline may officially take possession of its aircraft on November 2, it may be a few more weeks before we get our first look inside.

United’s ordered a total of 14 extended-length 787-10s, and I spotted a second hanging out on the flight line, alongside Dreamliners headed to Singapore Airlines, Etihad and other international carriers. As the first 787 to offer United’s new Polaris business seat, plus a dedicated premium-economy cabin, this is definitely a rollout to watch.

For more on United’s extended-length Dreamliner, see:

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