EVERETT — Air New Zealand’s first fully painted 787-9 rolled out of a Boeing hangar late Saturday night onto a wet, rainy ramp. The excess of water may have soaked those in attendance but provided for dramatic photographs that accentuated the attractive design. The jet is the first of the new airplanes to receive a full customer livery.
The jet was painted in the carrier’s new livery, with an all black twist. The airline has several of its jets painted in an all black scheme, a nod to the country’s popular rugby team. According to the airline, the paint job took five days to complete and was done by 12 painters using around 350 litres (94.5 gallons) of paint.
ANZ has 10 787-9s on order and is considered the launch customer for the stretched variant. This Rolls Royce Trent 1000 example, LN/169, is registered ZK-NZE. It was originally registered as ZB-003.
In a press release, Air New Zealand Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan, who was in Seattle for the unveiling said “It’s great to see the Koru and the beautiful New Zealand fern emblazoned on this aircraft. This will soon be the first 787-9 aircraft anywhere in the world to operate commercially and I think it will instill a sense of pride in Kiwis and turn heads when it touches down at airports throughout Asia and the Pacific.”
The 787-9 is a stretched version of the original Boeing 787-8. The fuselage is stretched by 20 feet over the baseline 787-8. The 787-9 will fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles over its smaller stablemate. According to a Boeing, 26 customers have ordered 405 787-9s, accounting for approximately 39 percent of all 787 orders.
Its direct competitor, the forthcoming Airbus A350-900 XWB is expected to be enter service by the end of 2014 and has accumulated 589 orders out of a total of 812 orders. The 787 still holds the overall crown with 1,031 orders and 131 deliveries as of March 31, 2014
The -9 first flew on September 16, 2013, and has gone on to cruise through testing. According to 787 source, All Things 787, reports the test program has already completed well over 1000 flight test hours and about 450 test flights.
It is expected that it will have over 1500 flight test hours under its belt by the time Boeing is done. Certification is expected in June with five planes involved in the test program. United Airlines is expected to take its first 787-9 around the same time and then begin domestic proving flights, before launching nonstop services between LAX and Melbourne, Australia.
This very airplane is expected to be the first 787-9 delivered to Air New Zealand which is expected to happen in the summer of 2014. It will begin service on October 15, 2014 though it is possible this date could move up. The first route will be from the carrier’s home base of Auckland to Perth, Australia (Airchive will be covering), followed by Shanghai and Tokyo in November.
While we now know what the outside will look like, what exactly is inside remains to be seen. We know the airplane will seat 302 passengers in the stretched 787. Business Premier will feature 18 seats in a 1-1-1 layout. Premium economy will lay claim to twenty-one seats in a 2-3-2 configuration with 41 inches of pitch.
Economy will take up the rest of the 263 seats in a 3-3-3 set up. Fourteen rows will have the carrier’s patented Skycouch feature.