Boeing will soon begin a six-month Dream Tour with its all-new 787 Dreamliner in an effort to woo customers for the innovative carbon composite aircraft.
“The 787 Dreamliner is a game-changing airplane and we’re delighted to be able to bring this innovative product to our customers who will soon be receiving their own 787s,” said Ray Conner, vice president of Sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “This airplane is now changing the way the world flies, and we want to share that excitement with as many people as we can.”
The December schedule for the 787 Dream Tour includes six stops in Asia, Africa and the Middle East:
Dec. 4-11: China with stops in Beijing, Guangzhou and Haikou to visit customers, partners, and government officials including representatives from Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), Air China, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) and Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Co. (CAC).
Dec. 11-16: Africa with stops in Addis Ababba, Ethiopia and Nairobi, Kenya to visit Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways. Ethiopian was the first African airline to order the 787 when it did so in February 2005 and has ten on order. It expects the first two Dreamliners to early next year. Kenya Airways signed a deal for the purchase of nine 787-8 Dreamliners with Boeing in April this year to replace its ageing fleet and expand routes and flight frequencies.
Dec. 16-19: Middle East stop in Doha to visit Qatar Airways.
The Dream Tour aircraft, ZA003, has been retrofitted with special interior features designed to highlight the cabin features and performance capabilities of the Dreamliner. The flight test equipment on board ZA003, the third 787 to be built, has been removed and a stunning new interior has been installed. The airplane also has received a refreshed Boeing livery.
“Our flight test airplane has turned into a show piece,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 programme. “Anyone who has seen the inside of a flight test airplane will be amazed at the transformation. All of the 787 passenger features are here.”
Visitors will be greeted by the signature 787 entryway sky light and gathering area. The LED lighting, standard on all 787s, will be demonstrated throughout the tour airplane.
Visitors also will find a luxurious business-class cabin with a dozen lay-flat seats, an overhead crew rest compartment and an economy class section. A large open space between the two economy class sections allows Boeing to spotlight the features of the 787 with displays and demonstrations. The exterior of the aircraft has been repainted in the standard Boeing livery.
The Dreamliner was first delivered to Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways on September 25 and flew its first flight carrying paying passengers, from Tokyo to Hong Kong, on October 27. Deliveries were three years behind schedule after persistent delays that cost Boeing billions of dollars. The Seattle Times reported that 787 programme costs had topped US$32 billion due to delays.
With its mostly carbon-composite body, Boeing’s technological flagship offers a 20 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and a 30 percent reduction in maintenance costs. Boeing’s focus on making the 787 more comfortable and lighter also points to the reality that faster, gas-guzzling air travel is not the industry’s future.
The Dreamliner was originally conceived in 2001 as the “Sonic Cruiser,” designed for a bygone era of aviation that quickly morphed into one filled with bankruptcies. It was a design that promised the first serious speed increase since the advent of the now defunct Concorde.
Most jetliners cruise at around eight-tenths the speed of sound. The Sonic Cruiser promised mach 0.98, lopping hours off long-haul flights between Tokyo and New York. But back then oil was a third of the cost and as it began a climb to near US$100 a barrel, Boeing and its airline customers changed course.
Thus was born the Dreamliner, its only link to the shelved Sonic Cruiser proposal being the use of carbon composites.