Boeing brought its next-generation commercial airliner to Reagan National Airport this week, showing it off as part of its worldwide 2011-12 “Dream Tour.” Groups of VIPs and journalists were invited to tour what Boeing officials tout as the 21st century’s first new plane, a sleek and environmentally friendly vehicle that will redefine air travel for both airlines and passengers.

The 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s response to the behemoth Airbus A380. But instead of challenging its European competitor by making an even bigger airplane, Boeing adapted and refined its popular 767 and 777 models. Built out of composite materials rather than the usual aluminum, the plane is some 20,000 pounds lighter than its predecessors, making it able to go further and faster while burning less gas and producing fewer emissions. While many airports can’t handle the sheer size of the A380, Boeing says that its Dreamliner — which can travel between 8,000 and 8,500 nautical miles in one go — will allow for new connections between 450 pairs of cities.

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Martin Austermuhle blogs at DCist . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.