United CEO says Boeing 787 a 'game-changer'

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HONOLULU (AP) -- As Japan welcomes the first Boeing 787, the world's largest carrier is patiently and anxiously waiting for its order.

The chief executive for the parent company for United and Continental airlines says he was told by Boeing that the first of the 50 aircraft ordered by the company will be delivered to have in service in the second half of 2012.

The first Boeing 787 landed Wednesday in Tokyo. All Nippon Airways is preparing the long-delayed aircraft for its inaugural commercial flight.

Despite the delays, United Continental Holdings CEO Jeff Smisek called the 787 "a spectacular and game-changing aircraft."

The new jet is the first commercial airliner built using carbon fiber -- a strong, lightweight, high-tech plastic -- rather than the typical aluminum skin. It is quieter and uses about 20 percent less fuel than a comparably sized aluminum aircraft.