After more than three years of delays, the day of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner’s first passenger flight has finally arrived – with those on board getting the first insight into the future of flight.
The world’s first airliner to be built mostly of composite materials set off on its maiden voyage from Tokyo Haneda to Hong Kong with operator, All Nippon Airways (ANA).
Did you know?
- The Dreamliner has a greater range than similar, medium-sized aircraft (up to 8,200 nautical miles)
- The 787 can carry 210-250 passengers
- The larger version, the 787-9 will carry 250-290 passengers
- Up to 50 percent of the airframe is made of composite materials
- Airbus is building its own-twin engine plane, the A350 (WXB) to rival the 787, due to enter service by late 2013
For the 264 passengers on board – with cameras at the ready – it was a chance to sample the delights of the Dreamliner beyond stepping on the fresh carpets, sipping champagne and sitting back in spotless seats.
New touches in the 787 cabin include larger overhead luggage compartments, extra-large, manually dimmable windows and custom ‘mood’ lighting.
While passengers wont arrive at their destinations any sooner than other jets, ANA hopes they will have a smoother journey.
The jetliner’s carbon fibre airframe structure allows the cabin to be pressurised at a lower altitude than aluminium aircraft, bringing higher humidity levels and helping passengers fight jet lag and dehydration.
But for airlines – who are facing soaring fuel bills – the 787’s biggest selling point is its efficiency.
Plane maker, Boeing – which holds more than 820 orders for the Dreamliner – says the aircraft is cheaper for airlines to fly and maintain, using 20 percent less fuel than today’s similar sized aircraft.
ANA is staking its future on the 787 and is the Dreamliner’s biggest customer, with orders for 55.
Unlike the A380 superjumbo, which is best-placed to serve big hub airports, the long-range, Dreamliner is designed to meet medium-sized demand for long-haul routes and connect smaller cities.
ANA will begin regular scheduled operations with the 787 on November 1, starting with domestic flights from Tokyo Haneda to Okayama and Hiroshima.
International operations will start in December between Haneda and Beijing and ANA’s first long-haul international route on January 21, 2012 – from Haneda to Frankfurt.
The airline will be able to use the aircraft to serve new destinations in North America and Europe from Japan in future.