The first Qantas Dreamliner has touched down in Sydney, marking the start of an exciting new era for the national carrier and for how Australians travel.
With its extended flying range and spacious cabin layout, Qantas will use the 236-seat Boeing to not only open up direct routes like Perth to London but take passenger comfort to the next level.
The 787-9 features Qantas’ next-generation seating across Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class. The aircraft also features the Boeing-designed turbulence dampening technology, improved air quality to reduce jetlag and 65 per cent larger windows that give an increased sense of space.
This morning, around 1,000 of the airline’s employees welcomed the aircraft, which has been given the name Great Southern Land, into a hangar at Sydney Airport after it touched down from the United States. As part of the celebrations, Australian band ICEHOUSE performed their anthemic 1982 song Great Southern Land, the inspiration for which came to singer and songwriter, Iva Davies, as his Qantas flight crossed the country’s red centre.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the arrival of a new type of aircraft was a special time for any airline, but the capability of the Dreamliner put it in a different category.
“We’ve taken delivery of hundreds of aircraft in our 98-year history but only a few of them have been game-changers like this one,” he said.
“In the 1940s the Lockheed Constellation meant we could fly around the world, and in the 1960s the Boeing 707 took us into the jet age and cut flying time in half. The Boeing 747 changed the economics of travel for millions of people and the sheer size of the Airbus A380 meant we could reimagine what inflight service was like.
“Our version of the Dreamliner follows in those footsteps. It gives us a combination of flying range and passenger comfort that will change how people travel.
“This aircraft means we can finally offer a direct link between Australia and Europe, with our Perth to London flight that starts next year. We’re looking at several other exciting route options as well.
“The arrival of the Dreamliner coincides with a new chapter for Qantas. We’re recruiting more pilots and cabin crew, we’re expanding the number of places we fly and we’re investing in technology to improve all parts of the customer journey. It’s a very exciting time, especially as we prepare for our centenary in 2020,” added Mr Joyce.
The first Dreamliner, registered as VH-ZNA, will fly a number of domestic passenger services around Australia to assist with crew familiarisation before its first international service from Melbourne to Los Angles on 15 December this year.
The second Qantas Dreamliner is currently on the production line at Boeing’s Seattle factory and will be delivered by early December. Two more Dreamliners will be delivered by March next year to coincide with the start of Perth-London services; all eight will have arrived by the end of 2018.
The Business Suites and Premium Economy seats featured on the Dreamliner will also be installed on the airline’s Airbus A380 fleet from 2019 onwards as part of an upgrade of its largest long-range aircraft.
Seven facts about the Qantas 787
- With a total seat count of 236 passengers, it has significantly fewer seats than many other airlines who have configured the aircraft to carry more than 300 passengers.
- Currently, most aircraft have cabin air pressure equivalent to that of an altitude of 8,000 ft. For the Dreamliner, Boeing cut that down to 6,000 ft, meaning it’s closer to conditions on the ground.
- The 787 uses up to 20 per cent less fuel than other traditional aircraft of its size.
- Qantas took a ‘best of Australia’ approach to configuring the aircraft, with Australian designer David Caon shaping the look and feel of the cabins; leading restaurateur Neil Perry designing the meals; and Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre collaborating on how to improve health and wellbeing on board.
- Windows that are 65 per cent larger and positioned higher create an improved onboard environment and mean every seat is effectively a window seat.
- The Qantas 787s are named after Australian icons following a nationwide poll that generated more than 45,000 suggestions.
- The Perth to London route will be the first time Australia and Europe have been connected by a direct air link.