The new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner touched down in Auckland today (Monday 6 January 2014), marking the new aircraft’s international debut.
The extended version of the fuel-efficient wide-body jet will enter service later this year with Air New Zealand. And ahead of this official launch, Boeing’s second test aircraft flew across the Pacific Ocean from Boeing’s factory in Seattle to Auckland.
As well as marking the aircraft’s first appearance outside the US, the 11,265km flight was also the longest undertaken by the B787-9 since the test programme began. The flight lasted 13 hours 49 minutes.
During the Auckland visit, Air New Zealand personnel and media will be given the chance to tour the aircraft, although no public viewings will be permitted.
Following the flying visit to New Zealand, the test aircraft will move on to Alice Springs where it will undergo a week of hot weather tests. The twin-aisle jet will then return to Seattle to be reconfigured with Air New Zealand’s cabin products, ahead of its delivery in mid-2014.
Air New Zealand will configure its B787-9s with 302 seats in three cabins – 18 flat-bed seats in business class, 21 seats in premium economy, and 263 in economy. The economy class cabin will also feature 14 ‘Skycouches’, which allows the row of three seats to be converted into a flat-bed.
“Having one of Air New Zealand’s 787-9s touch down on Kiwi soil for the first time is hugely exciting,” said Christopher Luxon, chief executive officer of Air New Zealand. “It’s a real reminder that we will soon welcome the first of these more modern, fuel-efficient airplanes into our fleet.”
The B787-9 is the mid-sized version of three Dreamliner types being developed by Boeing. The smaller B787-8 entered service with ANA in October 2011, while the larger B787-10 is expected to be launched in 2018.
The aircraft’s fuselage will be 6.1 metres longer than that of the B787-8, allowing the aircraft to seat approximately 40 more passengers.
To-date, Boeing has received firm orders for 402 B787-9s, accounting for 39% of all Dreamliner purchases. The largest airline customers include Etihad Airways (41 aircraft), ANA (30), American Airlines (30), Air France-KLM (25) and United Airlines (24).
Air New Zealand has ordered 10 B787-9s, and initially plans to operate them on routes to Perth, Tokyo and Shanghai.