Picking Up a Brand New Plane At The Factory

As you’re reading this, we’re preparing to fly this brand new aircraft home to Amsterdam from the Boeing plant in Seattle. Everyone at KLM has been looking forward to this joyous and momentous occasion for quite some time. In this blog, I’d like to tell you what it’s like to pick up a new plane.

Ordering a new plane is quite a big deal for an airline. You place an order, sign the contract, the plane is built and eventually you head over to pick it up at the factory.

There’s usually a gap of several years between signing the contract and picking up the plane. During that time, all sorts of preparations are made within the company. The specifications have to be ironed out: how many seats? What types of galleys? What engines? What optional extras?

We also start developing training programmes for pilots, cabin attendants and other staff. The pilots need a simulator for training, for instance.

Boeing constructs the plane with the aid of all sorts of suppliers. We discussed this in a previous blog about assembly. Components are manufactured at various locations worldwide and are eventually brought together at the Boeing plants in Seattle (Washington) or Charleston (South Carolina).

Acceptance team

Construction is monitored on site by a group of KLM technical specialists. Approximately two weeks before delivery, a KLM acceptance team heads out to Seattle. This team consists of specialists from various disciplines, who run a comprehensive test programme using detailed checklists. Every element of the aircraft is closely inspected and evaluated.


By then, the aircraft will have rolled off the production line under the supervision of Boeing’s “stall team”, which is responsible for delivery of the aircraft in accordance with specifications. The aircraft if parked outside on a special platform called the “flight line”, alongside other 787s that are being prepared for delivery. This is where the final preparations are made before the aircraft is transferred to the KLM acceptance team.

Test flight

Our technical pilots, Captain Frank Hofstra and First Officer Wido de Wilde, check whether all systems are working to perfection. They do this on the ground as well as in the air, during a test flight accompanied by a Boeing test pilot.

During this flight, which lasts three or four hours, the aircraft is put through all sorts of manoeuvres that it would normally never encounter. This allows all backup, emergency and alarm systems to be tested.


Frank and Wido have undergone special training to conduct flight tests. They are highly experienced pilots who will, for instance, also be in charge of the flight manuals for all KLM pilots flying the Boeing 787-9.

Transfer of title

If everything is in order, the so-called “transfer of title” takes place. This is a telephone conference during which all relevant parties (KLM, Boeing, the lease company, the bank and various lawyers) give the go-ahead for transfer of the aircraft.

Most airlines own some of their aircraft and lease the remainder. In this case, the aircraft is covered by a lease contract, which means acceptance is jointly undertaken by the owner (the lease company) and the user (KLM).

Shortly before departure to Amsterdam, the aircraft will be inducted into the fleet and its name will be unveiled in the presence of KLM President & CEO Pieter Elbers and various guests.

Then comes the moment we have worked towards for so long: once the guests and acceptance team have come on board, Frank, Wido and I will proudly fly the new plane home to Amsterdam, where we will touch down tomorrow (Saturday, 14 November). By then, most of our work will be done and our magnificent new Dreamliner will embark on a long and successful career in KLM service.

Click here for more information about our Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Posted by:   Bouke Rypma  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Hans de Groot

Have flown with KLM from Calgary to Amsterdam and return twice in the last two years and found the service and the flight grat and very comfortable. Always have been interested in the airline and I am an avation fan.

Liam Joseph white

Congratulations to KLM on your new adventure into the skys with the new Boeing 787-9. I would like to know when will the first flight to CUBA be in the new Boeing 787-9.

Bouke Rypma

No indication yet of the Dreamliner flying to Cuba soon…..


Let’so go Real Dutch Butterfly;and gain the world.

Thomas Bol

Flown the Dreamliner already twice before. I was surprised by the comfort this aircraft offers on a long haul flight. A 747 or triple is very comfy too, but the Dreamliner takes comfort to a next level even when being a economy passenger!
Looking forward to step on board during Welcome flight 22nd Nov. Keep on te good work and be safe KLM!

Bouke Rypma

You are quite right in your comments about the comfort level of this wonderful aircraft! Also as pilots we already feel better in this one on a 9 hour flight compared
to the older models.

Villarreal Rudolf

Welkom 787-900. God bless You.

Todd Bassett

Congratulations! I hope you fly the 787 on the AMS-IAD route!


Aankomst via het AZ Stadion, dan Kan Ik vanuit huis ff Kijken; )


I’m curious to know do you actually receive a set of keys for a new aircraft ? .


Good question! Bouke is flying the plane right now. I don’t think there are keys involved as we wrote a blog about it earlier. https://blog.klm.com/does-an-aircraft-have-a-key-jesseyknows/ If otherwise, Bouke will let you know.


Actually, if I am not mistaken you do get a set of keys, but they are symbolic.

Ton Beemsterboer

Lonneke is righr.
Normally a gold or silver plated key is handed over to KLM people involved in the acceptance process. Most of the time the key will be handed over to the captain who will fly the plane to the home base. After the first plane it is good practice that the (acceptance) captain gives the following keys to another KLMer involved in the acceptance process. I myself do have a silver plated B767 and 737 key.
( all keys are the same though, and they can only open some holds in the cabin , no key is neccessary to start the engines like a car !!)



sekandi dirisa

Dear klm
I so happy with you for what you have really done, i have never travelled with you but hopping to soon.
Every step you make, am with you. I will never loose hope but just stay with you every time. What you’re doing empowers some of us and that culminates to our support.

Jagath Rupasiri

Congratulation KLM on the arrival of the new aircraft BOEING 787-900.It will be a great adventure to KLM.Long live KLM.

Henk ten Wolde

Hope to see you soon in Alberta Blue Dolphin!!


Congratulations! I think KLM has one of the best services on board, and the best Bonus Program (Flying Blue) for sure.

Dick Stegenga

Reading all this positive information on the acceptance and delivery of the first KLM 787 brings back good memories of the many acceptances I was allowed to take part in as a (now retired) KLM Senior Project Engineer. The acceptance and deivery of an aircraft at the manufactorer is really a great display of team work as Bouke describes. During the build period a team of very experience Ground Engineers supervise the construction of the aircraft and brings in their maintenance experience during the construction of the aircraft. Then the exeptance team comes in, consisting of a Cabin Engineering specialist, who participated in the specification part, one of my colleague Project Engineers (who heads the team) and our Engineering Pilots team. Based on KLM’s fleet services mandate these specialists scrutenize the aircraft to check out its build and operational fuctioning per the specification against which the aircraft was purchased. A thorough, time consuming, but worthwhile process. The end result; a beautifull addition to KLM’s fleet. Congratulation to all my (previous) colleagues.


You’re welcome in Curaçao.


We attended Boeing’s Future of Flight tour in Everett this morning and saw your magnificent airplane…..can’t wait to fly in it!!


Why is there a lease company involved, if KLM is (presumably) planning to keep these aircraft around until their economic lifespan has passed? Does it have to do with financing (eg lower purchasing costs, higher operating/lease costs) or to have the ability to remove/sell these from the fleet in case there is no immediate use for them? Or something else?

Bouke Rypma

It is mainly a financial business concern. Investing your limited resources ( money) in an aircraft or use it for other types of investments or keep it for financial strength. Although the aircraft is meant to stay for a long time, at the end of the lease contract ( some 10 to 12 years) a decision can be made wether to extend the contract or let the aircraft go. To spread the financial risk and to mediate the (higher) operational cost by leasing, the 787 fleet will be owned and leased on an average 60-40 split. The first few are on lease, later on they will be bought by the company itself.


Thanks for the detailed reply Bouke! Much appreciated.

Ton Beemsterboer

Dear members of the acceptance tean B 787, you brought a very nice new plane to Amsterdam after undoubtfully a stressy acceptance process wich is normally the case with a new model for KLM. . I know that the CE project engineer Theo Bloemendal had used his experiences. In this proces with Boeing. I wish you al the best with the B 787 s to come, My regards to Theo.
Ton Beemsterboer, retired Acceptance Flightengineer KLM B737-300/400 and B767-300.


The memory of Anton Fokker still remains me in our daly routine. Such a shame that we have no own flight factorys anymore. Dreamliner.

Jeroen vdSchaaf

I was wondering – the test flight that is spoken of, in which the aircraft is pushed a but towards its limits…. is there film footage of that somewhere online, especially for one of the modern aircrafts like this 787-9? I really wonder what kind of things they put such a plane through. Can imagine for some people it would even contribute to their feeling of safety if they see what a place can actually stand. Thanks!

Anneke de Knegt

KLM gefeliciteerd met jullie prachtige Zonnebloem. Ik heb .vrijdag/zaterdag nacht haar thuisvlucht gevolgd van Paine Field naar Amsterdam. Bijzonder vluchtnummer KL7879. Kom haar zondag 22 nov. bewonderen tijdens de welcome flight


Magnificent article.
Great blog full of insights and very educative.

Ine Dirven

Congratulations KLM with the Dreamliner. I visited last summer the Boeing factory in Everett Seattle. It is quite impressive to see how the 787 is built.

Kurt Westgård

Congratulations with the new aircraft. I have travelled with it twice and I loved it but I hope to travel with KLM and I always try to do and yours new 787 next time I travel to Asia in the spring time next year.
Looking forward to many more great article here.

Tereza Canejo

I love KLM and Durch people. Best service ever

Malcolm Silvanus

I am impressed and wish I can one day be part of this wonderful process ….

Mark Powell

Congratulations on the new Dreamliner!


Gefeliciteerd!! Another success from my favourite airline!

Giselle Iokilevitc



Congratulations Klm for the new plane! Hope now you can also train your stuff not be rude and incompetent .

I have been a business Traveller and often traveling with Klm (great connections and on time flights) but your stuff is simply rude and arrogant.


salam alekum boeing 787 have a goog flight

Donizeti Carneiro

Magnificent work in receiving the plane. It should be copied by other industries and services as well. In my own service company we work with autonomous underwater vehicle that cost a fraction of a plane, but still is a few million dollars. I will definitely use your example in our next big purchases.


Welcome to the family. A fantastic aircraft to fly with.

Diederick Badon Ghijben

Congratulations! New plane new route, to Chennai (MAA) maybe?

John mcclure

Nice aircraft. But Airbus builds them better.

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How do tou get to a job such as technical pilot for an specific airline? I kbow there is a figure for test pilots in boeing or airbus, however, which path you should follow for being in an airline?


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