The first of Air New Zealand’s 787s being built by Boeing has had its engines fitted, and the airline has released details of routes it could fly and some details of what the cabin will look like.
The plane is due to enter service around the middle of next year and will replace older aircraft flying to Asia, Western Australia and holiday destinations in the Pacific.
While the routes are publicly firming up, the airline has not released details of the final cabin configuration, crucial for passenger comfort. The 787-9 can carry between 250 and 290 passengers, and Air New Zealand planes will have business premier, premium economy and economy seating, including 16 rows of Skycouch seats.
United States-based Zodiac will make the standard economy seats, a slim line version of those in existing cabins with less padding to allow for extra leg room.
The airline’s chief executive Christopher Luxon said the 787-9s would be a multi-purpose aircraft operating both long- and mid-haul sectors.
“We’ve put a lot of research effort into coming up with four distinct seating selections that meet the customer expectations across the markets it will serve.”
Airlines fit out the planes according to their needs but Boeing specifies a minimum seat pitch – the distance between rows of seats – of 30 inches.
Luxon said the fuel efficient aircraft will not only replace the current fleet of Boeing 767s, but it opened up the prospect of expanding the airline’s Pacific Rim footprint.
Fuel is up to 50 per cent of airline spending, and the Dreamliner promises savings of 20 per cent compared to equivalent size planes already in service.
Air New Zealand is the launch customer for the stretched version of the Dreamliner, the 787-9, and the plane that will initially be used as a test aircraft is at stage two on the assembly line in one of six massive hanger bays.
Boeing will refurbish the plane before delivering it back to the airline.
Boeing workers are now fitting wiring into the fuselage of the plane for monitoring equipment used in flight trials. The cockpit has been installed and is being wired up. It is due off the production line later next month.
The New Zealand Herald –