EVERETT — Boeing and Air New Zealand celebrated the first 787-9 Dreamliner delivery on Wednesday. The airplane is expected to fly away to Air New Zealand’s Auckland headquarters tomorrow, on Thursday, following a number of familiarization flights around the Western US in the past week. It is expected to begin flying between Auckland and Sydney before moving to Auckland to Perth on October 15.
It will begin flying regional international routes to Asia before beginning service to Vancouver in two years. The airplane is outfitted with eighteen Business Premier seats, twenty-one premium economy, and 302 regular economy seats, including fourteen rows with its Skycouch quasi-lie-flat product.
The airplane will offer passengers a new, Panasonic based in flight entertainment, though no WiFi will be on board for now. It added that the airplane has KA-Band connectivity hardware built in to allow for the option down the road. The company has ten of the airplanes on order.
“We are proud to be the launch customer for the 787-9,” said Air New Zealand Chief Financial Officer Rob McDonald. “We believe it will be a game-changer for Air New Zealand, with increased levels of fuel efficiency and passenger comfort. We look forward to inviting our customers on board to experience the aircraft and all of its benefits for themselves.”
“This delivery is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of our employees, suppliers and Air New Zealand,” said John Wojick, senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Air New Zealand was a perfect partner for us in developing the 787-9, given its innovative spirit, unique mission requirements and geography. The 787-9, combined with Air New Zealand’s exceptional onboard service, will set them apart from the competition by providing an unrivaled flying experience.”
Crucially, the certification also includes ETOPS up to 330 minutes, clearing a hurdle right out of the gate that the 787-8 struggled with for years. In fact the entire final assembly and flight test programs remained remarkably problem free, a nod to what many hope is the end of Boeing’s Dreamliner program troubles.
The 787-9’s fuselage is twenty feet longer than the original 787-8. The stretch allows the aircraft carry forty more passengers. Plus, the 787-9 can fly an additional 450 nautical miles.
Like the 787-8, the 787-9 offers passengers larger windows, larger stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride.
So far, 26 customers have ordered a total of 409 787-9 aircraft. The orders for the 787-9 make up 40% of the total 787 orders.
As far as other carriers, United expects to take delivery of its first 787-9 in August. It plans to fly the airplane between Los Angeles and Houston starting September 20.
ANA is expected to take delivery of its first 787-9 this summer as well. No plans have been announced for first routes.