Qantas confirms Melbourne-Perth-London Boeing 787 flights

Qantas has confirmed its new Perth-London nonstop flights with the Boeing 787-9 will originate in Melbourne, with a new QF9/QF10 Melbourne-Perth-London rotation replacing the airline’s existing QF9/QF10 Melbourne-Dubai-London route operated by the Airbus A380 when services begin on March 24 next year.

The new Melbourne-Perth-London flights will mean a one-hour shorter travel time between Melbourne and London due to a short transit in Perth and the 787-9’s slightly faster cruising speed compared to the A380, but will also mean a significant reduction in Qantas’s capacity on the route, given the airline’s A380s seat 484 passengers, compared to 236 in the 787-9.

However, alliance partner Emirates also announced on Thursday that it will operate an all-A380 schedule to Melbourne from March 24, upgrading the last of its thrice-daily flights from the Boeing 777-300ER.

Qantas 787-9s will seat 42 business class passengers (in a 1-2-1 configuration), 28 in premium economy (at 2-3-2 abreast ) and 166 in economy (at nine abreast), with the 70 business and premium economy seats representing 30 per cent of the cabin, which is the highest percentage of premium seats on board any of Qantas’s widebody fleet. Indeed Qantas’s A380s seat far more passengers in economy class (371) than its 787s will carry in total.

Replacing the four-class A380 with the three-class 787 on Melbourne-London also means Qantas will no longer offer first class on the route.

Meanwhile the A380s currently operating Melbourne-Dubai-London will be redeployed “to meet periods of high demand from Melbourne and Sydney to destinations in Asia, such as Singapore and Hong Kong”, the airline said.

Qantas says Melbourne will become the hub for its first four 787s (currently eight are on firm order), with the first two aircraft to operate the QF95/96 Melbourne-Los Angeles route six times weekly from December with the third and fourth aircraft allowing the operation of Melbourne-Perth-London.

Consequently Qantas will also be able to offer a one-stop Perth-Melbourne-Los Angeles 787 service, with a 90 minute connection on the outbound (QF95) leg (although schedules show the return QF96 787 flight arriving into Melbourne at 08:25, necessitating a domestic transfer as the QF9 Melbourne-Perth flight doesn’t depart until 15:20).

QF9/10 FLIGHT SCHEDULE
Flight Depart Arrive Days Aircraft
QF9 MEL-PER 15:20 17:20 Daily 787-9
QF9 PER-LHR 18:50 05:10 Daily 787-9
QF10 LHR-PER 13:30 13:15 Daily 787-9
QF10 PER-MEL 14:45 20:10 Daily 787-9
QF95 MEL-LAX 21:40 19:00 Six days (not Tuesdays) 787-9

With tickets going on sale today Qantas has also announced pricings for the routes, with economy fares for the Melbourne-London and Perth-London routes starting from $2,270, Qantas says. Premium economy fares will start from $4,450 between Melbourne and London and from $4,250 between Perth and London, while return business fares will start from $9,890 return between Melbourne and London and from $9,725 between Perth and London. Economy fares would drop below $2,000 during sales periods, according to the airline.

Qantas first announced plans to operate nonstop Perth-London flights, using an upgraded Terminal 3 on the domestic side of Perth Airport, in December 2016.

“The Kangaroo Route has kept changing with new technology. It used to take four days and seven stops but now we’re able to link Australia and UK in a single hop. It’s a level of convenience Australians have never had before,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement on Thursday.

“We’re conscious that this is a long flight, but not much longer than our Sydney to Dallas service. It’s the kind of route that the Dreamliner was created for, because of its built-in features to reduce jetlag and improve the overall travel experience,” Joyce said.

The first scheduled nonstop flights between Australia and Europe, the Perth-London service will take approximately 17 hours, depending on winds, and at 7,829nm will be Qantas’s longest and the third longest nonstop scheduled flight in the world.

Qantas chief Joyce has previously conceded the operating economics of the airline’s flights to London (it also operates the A380 on daily QF1/2 Sydney-Dubai-London services) are a “challenge”.

“London is a challenge because you have over 30 carriers operating on that market and we have extremely low airfares,” Joyce told the airline’s annual general meeting in October 2016.

“That’s one of the reasons we are considering an operation like Perth-London. If we can make it work out of Perth that is a way of actually having a very good operation we believe into London.”

London is Qantas’s only online destination in Europe, with the rest of the continent largely served via codeshares on its alliance partner Emirates through Dubai. Qantas also has a codeshare in place with fellow oneworld member Finnair for Helsinki, which Emirates does not serve.

Once QF9/10 switches to operating via Perth, Melbourne passengers wishing to travel to Dubai, or via Dubai on one-stop flights to European destinations other than London, will still be able to book on Qantas codeshared Emirates flights.

Emirates’ plans to upgrade its third daily EK408/409 Dubai-Melbourne flights from the 777-300ER to the A380 adds back 945 seats to the route, an increase of 10 per cent for the Dubai-based airline.

Meanwhile, rival Gulf carrier Etihad announced on Wednesday that it is was downguaging capacity on Melbourne-Abu Dhabi, with its EY460/461 A380 flights to be operated by the 777-300ER from October 29, while from the same date the current EY462/463 rotation will see 787-9s replacing the 777-300ER.

Qantas’s first 787 is due for delivery in October and will be registered VH-ZNA, Australian Aviation ‘Traffic’ columnist Gordon Reid reports in the May issue of the magazine.

 

Source : Australian Aviation

Qantas to investigate foam alternatives after Brisbane hangar spill

Qantas says it is investigating the use of alternative fire retardants after a foam spill at one of its Brisbane Airport maintenance hangars on Sunday evening.

The hangar’s sprinkler system released a reported 22,000 litres of PFOA fire retardant foam, some of which entered a nearby creek. The spill saw the Queensland Government issue a public warning to not eat seafood caught near the airport.

The Queensland Government banned the use of PFOA foam last year, but Brisbane Airport is covered by federal government regulations as it is on Commonwealth-owned land.

“While the foam we use in Brisbane meets our current requirements under federal safety regulations, we have been working through a process to replace it with a type that meets the Queensland Government’s updated requirements,” Qantas said in a statement on its website on Thursday evening.

“There are few fire retardant products available around the world that meet aviation standards for use in an aircraft hangar. We are working as quickly as possible to replace it,” Qantas said.

The federal government, meanwhile, says it is investigating transitional arrangements to firefighting foams that do not include PFAS substances such as PFOA and PFOS.

“While it is known PFAS can persist for a long time, there is no consistent evidence that PFAS exposure is harmful to human health,” Minister for Infrastructure Darren Chester said in a statement on Friday.

“The government is considering management options for PFOS and PFOA transitional removal from use, improved management and appropriate disposal of PFOS-containing firefighting foams at all facilities in Australia, consistent with the listing of the chemical under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants,” he said.

Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles has called for the Commonwealth to ban the use of firefighting foams containing PFOA and PFOS.

“As we are not the regulator of Commonwealth-controlled sites such as Brisbane Airport, our ban doesn’t apply to Qantas,” Miles said in a statement on Thursday.

“As a result of the foam spill from a Qantas hangar at Brisbane Airport last week, Brisbane residents have been put at risk, which is a position that could have been prevented,” the Minister asserted.

“What I want to know is why one of the country’s largest and most reputable companies is still using firefighting foams containing PFOS and PFOA right here on our doorstep?”

Queensland introduced its PFOS and PFOA foam ban in July 2016 after they were linked to ground water contamination surrounding the Army Aviation Centre at Oakey, near Toowoomba, while in June 2016 the federal government announced it would spend $65 million remediating chemical contamination from firefighting foam at Oakey and RAAF Base Williamtown.

PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) are per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have been commonly used in firefighting foams. While media reports label PFAS as “toxic”, the federal government has said there is, at least as yet, no proven link between PFAS contamination and problems to human health.

“Whether PFOS or PFOA cause health problems in humans is currently unknown, but on current evidence from studies in animals the potential for adverse health effects cannot be excluded. Because the elimination of PFASs from the human body is slow there is a risk that continued exposure to PFOS and PFOA could cause adverse health effects,” a June 2016 federal government factsheet on PFASs notes.

Meanwhile, Qantas says it is investigating the cause of the foam spill.

“Together with the state and federal governments and Brisbane Airport, we’re acting to understand the impact of the spill and are not able to draw any conclusions until the investigation is complete,” the airline’s statement reads.

“We appreciate there are members of the community who are concerned, and we are responding as quickly as we can to determine the extent of any pollution and are committed to keeping all stakeholders updated through the process.”

 

Source : Australian Aviation

Football bands together to support flood affected clubs

Australia’s extended football family has joined forces to provide support for flood affected football clubs in south-east Queensland and Northern NSW following Cyclone Debbie.
Australia’s extended football family has joined forces to provide support for flood affected football clubs in south-east Queensland and Northern NSW following Cyclone Debbie.

Football Federation Australia (FFA), Football Queensland (FQ) and Football Gold Coast and their commercial partners including Westfield, ALDI, Caltex, Nike, Qantas, nab, Mitre, Foxtel and Summit Sport have joined together with Socceroos legend Archie Thompson to provide some moral support and practical assistance as communities try to resume normal life.

ALDI MiniRoos Ambassador and Socceroos legend Archie Thompson was joined at Murwillumbah FC by club president Darren Mackay and Football Gold Coast General Manager Damien Bresic to announce the support being provided and personally deliver some of the donated items.

FFA CEO David Gallop paid tribute to the corporate partners who provided assistance and resources for clubs in the region.

More than 10 clubs in Queensland are being helped while others are being identified in northern NSW.

“Everyone has seen the devastation and damage caused by the floods in the region either side of the Queensland and New South Wales border,” said Gallop.

“To have a host of FFA’s corporate partners put their hand up to help local football clubs in the region get back on their feet is yet another sign of the football community coming together and demonstrates the strength and unity of football.”

“We thank each of the organisations who have donated to the cause and also Archie Thompson for taking the time to visit the region after all of the tribulations clubs have faced due to the floods.”

As part of his visit Thompson also conducted an ALDI Miniroos coaching clinic with kids from Murwillumbah FC.

Australia’s extended football family has joined forces to provide support for flood affected football clubs in south-east Queensland and Northern NSW following Cyclone Debbie.“The day has been awesome. The turnout by the associations that are here, the kids, the parents, you can see the smiles and it’s really reassuring to know we’ve got that support,” said club president Mackay.

“It gives a spark to our players and parents, and this assistance will really help us get back on top of things after the floods.”

“It is really heart warming knowing we have got the support from the football community locally, at state level and nationally.”

In addition, Logan Lightning FC, Gold Coast Knights FC, Ipswich Knights FC, Murwillumbah FC and the Capalaba Bulldogs have been invited to play at half time of the Hyundai A-League 2017 Finals Series match between Brisbane Roar FC and Western Sydney Wanderers FC tonight at Suncorp Stadium.

 

Source : Football Federation Australia

Tour company to use Qantas Boeing 747 for private around-the-world charter

Qantas cabin crew member Bridget Simpson, Qantas Boeing 747 Fleet Senior Training Captain David Oliver and Constellation Journeys founder Dan Kotzmann. (Constellation Journeys)

Qantas’s evergreen Boeing 747-400s will host passengers on a private around-the-world charter being organised by newly established travel company Constellation Journeys.

The announcement of the charter was made at Qantas’s Mascot jetbase, with Constellation Journeys founder and managing director Dan Kotzmann alongside Qantas charter manager Domenic Lafaro and Qantas Boeing 747 Fleet Senior Training Captain David Oliver with one of the Flying Kangaroo’s 747s, VH-OJS, in the background.

The inaugural tour, which takes off from Sydney on April 22 2018 and returns on May 12 2018, will be operated by Qantas pilots (two captains and a first officer) alongside 18 cabin crew and seven support staff.

Captain Oliver, who will be in command of the flights, said he was looking forward to the experience.

“I am extremely privileged to be a part of Constellation Journeys’ inaugural trip and am honoured to command your privately chartered Qantas 747 across seven staggering global destinations,” Captain Oliver said in the trip brochure.

“My years of experience as a line pilot and more recently as a training captain on the 747 mean I am commanding my favourite aircraft for this flight.”

Qantas Boeing 747 Fleet Senior Training Captain David Oliver, Constellation Journeys founder Dan Kotzmann, Qantas charter manager Domenic Lafaro and Qantas cabin crew member Bridget Simpson. (Constellation Journeys)

Constellation Journeys plans to offer economy, premium economy, business and first class for the charter, suggesting the aircraft to be used will be either VH-OEB or VH-OJM, given these are the airframes that still have Qantas’s old first class product in the nose, while the remaining three 747-400s and six 747-400ERs in the fleet have been reconfigured to a three-class layout comprising business, premium economy and economy.

Currently, Qantas’s 11 747-400/400ERs serve Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Tokyo (Haneda), Johannesburg, San Francisco, New York City and Santiago.

Australian Aviation

Richard Goyder tapped to join Qantas board

Richard Goyder. (Wesfarmers)

Outgoing Wesfarmers boss Richard Goyder will join the Qantas board.

Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford said Goyder would seek election at the airline group’s annual general meeting in October and, if elected, would join the board as a non-executive director after stepping down as Wesfarmers chief executive in November.

In addition to his chief executive role at Wesfarmers that he has held since 2005, Goyder also sits on the diversified Australian conglomerate’s board.

A screenshot of Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford on the webcast of the annual general meeting. (Qantas)

Elsewhere, Goyder is also a director of the Business Council of Australia alongside Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce.

Further, he also sits on The University of Western Australia Business School advisory board and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Australia board, where he is chairman.

Also, it was announced in February Goyder was due to join the board of Woodside Petroleum as an independent non-executive director in August, before becoming the petroleum exploration and production company’s chairman in April 2018.

Clifford said Goyder’s business experience would strengthen the Qantas board.

“As well as his achievements with Wesfarmers, he’s respected as a clear voice for the business community on broader economic and policy issues,” Clifford said in a statement on Thursday.

“Having his knowledge and perspective on the board will be a great asset as we continue to deliver for Qantas’ shareholders and customers.”

Goyder said it was “an honour to be asked to join the board”.

“I’ve admired the way that the management team led by Alan Joyce has repositioned the group over the past few years and it’s clear that Qantas has an exciting future with some big opportunities ahead,” Goyder said.

“I hope to make a contribution to that next chapter.”

 

Source : Australian Aviation

Qantas’s inflight internet wi-fi takes off

Qantas has switched on its inflight internet wi-fi service to the travelling public for the first time, conducting a demonstration flight on board Boeing 737-800 VH-XZB for media, representatives from providers ViaSat and the National Broadband Network, airline staff and invited guests on Friday.

The flight took off from Sydney a little before 1100 and flew along the New South Wales coast before turning towards Albury near the Victorian border and returning to Mascot for landing at about 1240.

The public’s first opportunity to experience Qantas’s wi-fi offering was expected to be later on Friday afternoon, when VH-XZB operates its first scheduled passenger service with the technology available to passengers.

Wi-fi was available from the moment the doors were closed. The connection Australian Aviation experienced was a little sluggish as the aircraft took off and climbed through the clouds. However, once at the cruising altitude of 38,000ft, those on board experienced a solid connection that enabled streaming from Foxtel, Netflix and YouTube, as well as posting on social media and downloading emails.

Inflight speeds measured using the Speedtest app. (Jordan Chong)

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, who was on board the flight, said the launch of inflight internet wi-fi was another initiative to improve the passenger experience.

“The technology we’re using on-board this 737 is a generation ahead of what most airlines around the world have and there’s a fair amount of complexity involved,” Joyce said.

“That’s why we’ve installed it on one aircraft for the first few months until we’ve finished fine tuning and are ready to roll out to the rest of the domestic fleet.”

“From a competitive perspective, today’s announcement puts us in a very strong position. No other domestic airline is offering its passengers next-generation wi-fi with a commitment that it’ll continue to be included in the price of the fare.”

Friday’s flight was Qantas’s second attempt to launch its inflight internet wi-fi service. The airline cancelled a proposed flight on March 27 due to what it described as stability issues.

Qantas plans to roll out the technology on its fleet of domestic 737-800s and Airbus A330s, with about 80 aircraft to be fitted with a satellite antenna, multiple wireless access points in the cabin and other hardware by the end of 2018.

Connectivity is provided by ViaSat’s global satellite network and the National Broadband Network’s Sky Muster satellites, which use the high capacity Ka-band. The service will be free for all passengers, with those on board offered free subscriptions to the likes of Foxtel, Stan, Netflix and Spotify for a certain number of days.

The airline is also talking up the operational benefits of having inflight connectivity, particularly for flightcrews to receive updated weather information en route and cabin crews to more proactively manage passenger disruptions in the event of delays.

Part of the hardware on VH-XZB for inflight internet wifi. (Qantas)

Virgin Australia plans to shortly commence a three-month inflight internet wi-fi trial on board a 737-800 from mid-April after naming Gogo and Optus as its technology partners for the service.

The airline plans to utilise the 2Ku technology from Optus for domestic and New Zealand flights, with Intelsat and SES for its other international flights, Virgin said in late March.

The Virgin 737, VH-YIG, has been fitted with the necessary hardware and some internal testing is being undertaken ahead of the service being opened up to the public.

Virgin has signed up Netflix, Stan and Pandora for streaming content for its wifi service.

And Air New Zealand said in October 2016 its international and domestic jet fleet would be progressively equipped with wi-fi from 2017 utilising the Inmarsat new global GX satellite constellation. Trials are scheduled for the second half of 2017 on a new Airbus A321neo and refitted Boeing 777-300ER.

The welcome screen when logging in to the Qantas inflight wifi system. (Jordan Chong)

Source : Australian Aviation

Qantas claims on-time honours in February

Qantas led all carriers for domestic punctuality in February, government figures show.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) report found Qantas edged out Virgin Australia for on-time arrivals for a second straight month in February.

Qantas achieved an 87.6 per cent on-time arrivals rate in February, ahead of Virgin Australia at 85.9 per cent and QantasLink at 84.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, Qantas leapfrogged Virgin Australia for on-time departure honours in February, with 89.6 per cent of its flights pushing back from the gate within 15 minutes of schedule.

Virgin Australia was next best at 87.6 per cent, followed by QantasLink at 85.7 per cent.

The battle for passengers has led to a strong emphasis on punctuality for airlines in an effort to attract and retain customers, particularly those in the lucrative corporate and government travel sector.

All Australian carriers suffered a decline in punctuality in February.

Tigerair Australia suffered an 11.3 percentage point fall in on-time arrivals to 67.7 per cent in February compared with the previous month, while Regional Express’ (Rex) arrivals rate was 9.8 percentage points lower at 79.4 per cent.

The fall in Tigerair’s punctuality allowed Jetstar to top its LCC rival in February.

The BITRE report noted Rex had the lowest percentage of cancellations in the month at 0.6 per cent – it flew 5,687 of 5,719 scheduled flights – followed by Qantas at 1.0 per cent.

At the other end of the scale, QantasLink and Virgin Australia had the highest percentage of cancellations at 2.6 per cent and 2.2 per cent, respectively.

The figures showed the city-pair with the best on-time performance was the interstate route between Adelaide and Alice Springs, where 97.5 per cent of flights arrived and departed within 15 minutes of schedule.

Only one capital city airport made the list of top 10 airports for departures, with Brisbane in 10th position at 88.7 per cent. There were no capital city airports in the list of top 10 airports for arrivals.

The BITRE report said Jetstar and Qantas jet aircraft used ACARS (Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System) to electronically measure on-time performance, while Regional Express, Tigerair Australia, Virgin Australia, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines and Qantas’s non-jet fleet recorded on-time performance manually using records from pilots, gate agents and/or ground crews.

On-time arrivals for February 2017

Qantas 87.6% (-4.1)
Virgin 85.9% (-5.7)
QantasLink 84.8% (-1.3)
Virgin Australia Regional 81.7% (-8.6)
Rex 79.4% (-9.8)
Jetstar 75.8% (-5.4)
Tigerair 67.7% (-11.3)

Qantas network 86.1 (-2.6)
Virgin network 85.7 (-5.9)

Figures in brackets indicates percentage point change from previous month)

On-time departures for February 2017

Qantas 89.6% (-1.9)
Virgin 87.6% (-4.1)
QantasLink 85.7 (-0.9)
Virgin Australia Regional 83.8% (-8.3)
Rex 83.5% (-8.6)
Jetstar 73.6 (-2.8)
Tigerair 67.0 (-10.5)

Qantas network 87.5% (-1.4)
Virgin network 87.4% (-4.3)

Figures in brackets indicates percentage point change from previous month

Source: BITRE

 

Australian Aviation

Qantas CEO confirms Airbus A380 seat upgrade

Qantas CEO confirms Airbus A380 seat upgrade

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has confirmed that the airline’s flagship Airbus A380 fleet will be upgraded with new seats.

The much-anticipated refresh would likely see the superjumbo fitted with similar seats to the airline’s Boeing 787-9 fleet in business class, premium economy and economy.

Speaking at a press conference for the airline’s July-December financial result – which saw Qantas record a pretax profit of $852 million – Joyce said “we are (currently) working through our plans for upgrading the A380.”

Joyce described such upgrades as typically taking place “when aircraft get to middle of their life… so you can expect over next year or so for us to comment on where this is going and when it will happen. But it will happen.”

PREVIOUS | Qantas could begin upgrading its Airbus A380 fleet as early as 2018, with the superjumbos seeing new seats from tip to tail in order to sharpen their competitive edge on routes to the USA and London.

The airlines is believed to be planning an extensive A380 refurbishment program to fit the latest-generation seats created for the Qantas Boeing 787-9 – or a future evolution of same – to the double-decker jets.

It’s notable that by the time Qantas’ first Boeing 787-9 arrives in October 2017, the airline’s original Airbus A380 will be close to ten years old – the point at which airlines typically begin a mid-life refresh for their largest jets.

Qantas’ twelve superjumbos were delivered between September 2008 and December 2011, and the make-over could co-incide with their scheduled ‘heavy maintenance’ checks.

The upgrade would give the A380s a new lease of life for another 10-12 years, at which point they are likely to be retired in favour of next-gen aircraft such as the Boeing 777-X series (below) as Qantas moves to a new strategy of long-range non-stop flights.

The biggest winners from the A380 upgrade would be corporate travellers, with business class going from the current Skybed II seats with their lack of storage space and cramped 2-2-2 layout…

… to the Dreamliner Business Suite, which like the A330 Business Suite offers copious personal space, a massive 16 inch video screen and direct aisle access for every passenger.

The Skybed pods are a clear generation behind the business class curve and on US routes, for example, pale by comparison with Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777 business class…

… that of Qantas’ own partner American Airlines…

… United Airline’s forthcoming Boeing 787 Polaris business class…

… and potentially Delta’s Airbus A350 Delta One suites.

Qantas’ Boeing 787’s economy seats – with their 12 inch screens, inbuilt iPad stands and AC and USB power sockets – are also expected to make their way onto the A380’s lower deck.

Qantas would also replace today’s A380 premium economy seats with Dreamliner’s all-new premium economy seats.

A revamp of the A380’s first class cabin is also on the cards, although it’s not known if Qantas will settle for a touch-up of today’s first class, a total transformation to an all-new suite or strike somewhere in-between.

Qantas may also use the upgrade period to add inflight Internet and WiFi across the A380 fleet so that travellers can fire up their laptop, tablet or smartphone to tap into a high-speed satellite connection.

Qantas releases results of first inflight wi-fi test flight

A supplied impage from on board Qantas's internet wifi trial. (Qantas)

Qantas says it has achieved encouraging results from its first passenger internet wi-fi trial as the clock ticks down to the official start of the service for customers.

The airline said in a blog post on its website on Tuesday the 140 passengers on board the flight achieved “typical download speeds” of between seven and 12 megabits per second to each connected device, noting the minimum required to stream movies on most handheld devices was 1.5Mbps.

“We gathered a huge amount of user data from this test flight, and we’re now working to make final adjustments ahead of inviting customers to test, then use the system,” Qantas said.

Qantas says it will shortly flick the switch on its internet wifi offering. (Qantas)

“We expect that will happen in the next few weeks.”

The flight took place “a few days ago”, Qantas said, with all the passengers on board Qantas staff.

One of the airline’s Boeing 737-800s, VH-XZB, had a satellite antenna, multiple wireless access points in the cabin and other hardware installed in November 2016.

A supplied image of Qantas's inflight wifi offering. (Qantas)

The aircraft has been flying with the technology switched off for passengers as it conducted ground and inflight tests with its technology parter ViaSat.

During the three-hour test flight, the staff members were asked to do a range of online actions from downloading an app to streaming content to sending emails to testing out the content filters. Some 200 devices were connected to the onboard wi-fi, Qantas said.

“Most of the testers experienced a seamless streaming experience. But everyone downloading apps at one time did test the limits,” Qantas said, noting that this was not something that was expected to happen normally.

In the flightdeck, pilots used the inflight internet wi-fi to gather updated weather information on a tablet, while cabin crew tested an app to help with missed connections as a result of a delay.

Qantas announced in February 2016 plans to equip its domestic fleet of Boeing 737-800s and Airbus A330s with internet wi-fi, with connectivity to be provided by ViaSat’s global satellite network and the National Broadband Network’s Sky Muster satellites.

The oneworld alliance member planned to provide the service free of charge, with passengers able to stream television programs from Foxtel for free both during the flight and for the following three days. Meanwhile, Netflix and Spotify would offer a 30-day free trial to passengers who subscribe to the service.

The airline has said previously it planned to roll out internet wi-fi across the rest of its domestic domestic Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 aircraft from mid-2017 onwards.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has said previously the satellites, which use the high capacity Ka-band, would deliver internet speeds 10 times faster than conventional on-board wi-fi. The airline was also considering offering wi-fi on regional and international aircraft.

Qantas is the first of the three largest airlines in Oceania to planning to offer internet wi-fi in 2017.

Air New Zealand announced its October its international and domestic jet fleet would be progressively equipped with wi-fi from 2017 utilising the Inmarsat new global GX satellite constellation. Trials were scheduled for the second half of 2017 on a new Airbus A321neo and refitted Boeing 777-300ER.

And Virgin Australia said in July 2016 it would offer internet connectivity on its 737, 777-300ER and A330 fleet from mid-2017. However, the carrier was yet to announce details about the technology it would use, its pricing model and any potential partners for the service.

Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti said on February 17 details of the airline’s wifi offering would be made shortly.

 

Australian Aviation

Qantas 787-9s put premium on sleep

A mockup of Qantas's new 787-9 premium economy seat.

The tablet holder on Qantas's new 787-9 premium economy.

The headrest on Qantas's 787-9 premium economy seat. (Jordan Chong)

 

Qantas has placed the focus on sleep in the design of its new premium economy seat on the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners scheduled to operate the 17-hour journey from Perth to London.

The legrest and footnet on Qantas's 787-9 new premium economy seat. (Jordan Chong)

The new seats were unveiled at Qantas’s first half results presentation on Thursday and feature a distinctive adjustable footrest and footnet, an ergonomic pillow designed to fit onto the headrest and a cradle-style recline designed to give the passenger maximum support while minimising the intrusion to those sitting behind.

Premium economy on Qantas’s 787-9s will comprise 28 seats spread across four rows in a typical 2-3-2 configuration in its own mini-cabin.

A side-on look at Qantas's new 787-9 premium economy seat. (Jordan Chong)

Qantas said in a factsheet accompanying the premium economy launch the seats have been pitched at 38in and were up to 22.8in wide thanks to some sculpting around the armrests.

The seat back inflight entertainment screens feature Qantas’s Panasonic product also seen on the airline’s Airbus A330 fleet. There was a USB charger in the armrest, as well as in the back of the seat.

“This new premium economy seat had serious wow factor,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement.

“The Qantas Dreamliner will be flying some of the longest routes in the world, including non-stop from Perth to London, so we’ve focused on making each cabin the most comfortable in its class.”

The seat itself was a based on one from Thompson Aero Seating, which also designed Qantas’s new business class seats on board its Airbus A330 fleet.

A supplied image of Qantas's 787-9 premium economy seat. (Qantas)

From there that basic structure, it was customised by Australian industrial designer David Caon working in collaboration with Qantas. That process resulted in a number of “bespoke elements” such as the pillow being attached to headrest, a night light that was built into the seat shell, and an L-shaped bracket that allows the passenger to place their tablet or smartphone in front of the IFE screen.

Caon said the distinctive feature of the Thompson Aero Seat was its recline.

“Passenger comfort is really important,” Caon told reporters during a media briefing on Wednesday, prior to the official launch.

“It does not pivot like a regular seat, it has a cradle effect so when the seat goes back the front of the seat comes forward and up so it holds you in more of a Z position.”

“That combined with the footrest allows you to really extend out and get really really comfortable without your body sliding down.

“You are supported at all the major points of your body as well as the headrest. That’s how we achieved the sleep position in this seat.”

Moreover, the way the seat reclined minimised the intrusion into the personal space of those sitting behind.

“The effective recline is nine inches, I think the intrusion into your space is only about four or four and a half,” Caon said.

And in a feature more reminiscent of business class seats, the armrests on the aisles are able to be dropped down, allowing passengers to get out of the seat without moving the seat back to the upright position.

Qantas’s 787-9s are configured to carry 236 people, with 42 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration offering direct aisle access for every passenger, 28 in premium economy laid out 2-3-2 across and 166 in economy in a 3-3-3 layout with 32in seat pitch and 17.2in seat width.

Currently, Qantas offers a premium economy on its Boeing 747-400/400ERs and Airbus A380s.

The airline said in a statement it would “assess updating existing premium economy cabins in line with its fleet planning and product cycles”.

Qantas was expected to take delivery of its first 787-9 in October. The oneworld alliance member has eight of the type on firm order, while it also holds a host of options and purchase rights for the 787 family of aircraft that have to be exercised between now and the end of the decade.

The first Qantas 787-9 long-haul route is Melbourne-Los Angeles, which was due to begin in December. Perth-London flights were slated to take off from March 2018.