The Boeing 787 Dreamliner touched down at London Heathrow this week, on the latest leg of its world tour (see online news November 24, 2011).
Present at the event were collected media, suppliers, partners and key spokespeople for all three of the British carriers which currently have orders for the Dreamliner: British Airways (24), Thomson Airways (13) and Virgin Atlantic (16).
The tour aircraft, ZA003, has been painted in a special Boeing Dreamliner livery, and the interiors are designed to show off the dramatic entryway, larger dimmable windows, bigger bins and LED lighting.
Constructed from 50 per cent composite materials, the Dreamliner claims to use 20 per cent less fuel than similarly sized aircrafts. The next-generation aircraft also has a noise footprint 60 per cent lower than similar aircraft; for example at London Heathrow all noise on takeoff will be contained within the airport grounds.
The 787’s range of up to 8,500 nautical miles means that it can link the UK’s regional airports with direct flights to previously unreachable destinations. For example, the 787 will be capable of flying direct from Bristol to Honolulu, Santiago or Bali.
Thomson Airways will be the first British carrier to receive the aircraft (see online news April 18) in May 2013, after initially ordering the aircraft in 2005. The aircraft will serve Florida and Cancun from Gatwick, Manchester, East Midlands and Glasgow and the aircraft will be in a two-class configuration.
The Thomson Dreamliner will carry 291 passengers, with 47 in Premium Club class in a 2-3-2 configuration with a 38” seat pitch, and 244 Economy Club seats in a 3-3-3 configuration, each with 33”- 34” pitch.
Speaking at the event, Stephen Riley, director of flight operations for British Airways said, “Much has already been said about it from a customer point of view but we think it will be game changing in the experience the customer has when flying long-haul.”
Tim Livett, chief financial officer at Virgin Atlantic said, “For us it represents a great opportunity to show what we can do with the interior of an aircraft. You’ve got here from Boeing a great vehicle in which to display what’s possible. We believe we have some excellent talent in terms of our design and engineering teams and they will be able to [create] a very unique and very customer friendly interior.”
Virgin expects delivery within two and a half years, and has announced that it will be fitting the Dreamliner in a three-class configuration, with the new Upper Class suite (see online news April 23) onboard.
Route choices have yet to be decided on but Livett said that they will replace the current A340s, and focus on emerging economies that fall into the new range the 787 offers. The aircraft will also be operated out of London Gatwick on key leisure routes such as the Caribbean and Las Vegas.
The Dream Tour (see online news April 13) will next stop off in Manchester and then Gatwick, before heading on to Europe as Boeing seeks to show the completed aircraft off to its partners around the world.
To see a video about the Dreamliner visit our sister website seatplans.com, here.
For more information visit www.newairplane.com/787/
Report by Scott Carey