Qantas’s newest aircraft has touched down in its new home.
To the strains of I Still Call Australia Home, a new era in aviation taxied into Hangar 96 at Sydney Airport early this morning. And to the mesmerising tones of Iva Davies’ Great Southern Land performed by Icehouse, the new Qantas Dreamliner, itself named Great Southern Land by popular vote, marked the completion of her maiden voyage from Seattle to Sydney.
More than 1000 excited Qantas staff members and media were on hand to celebrate despite the early hour and rainy weather.
Icehouse performs at Hangar 96. Image by Alex Greig.
Great Southern Land is the first of eight new Boeing Dreamliner 787-9s Qantas is awaiting. This new ’roo will start earning its keep in December, flying from Melbourne to Los Angeles, with subsequent Dreamliner deliveries plying the new non-stop route from Perth to London beginning in March 2018.
It’s not just its ability to fly long distances non-stop that has people talking about this Dreamliner; it’s the very smart fit-out the plane has been given by Qantas and industrial designer David Caon. The spacious cabins, seating 236 passengers in Economy, Premium Economy and Business (aka “mini first class”) classes and the latest technological advances make the Qantas Dreamliner 787-9s a “game-changer”, according to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
“We’ve taken delivery of hundreds of aircraft in our 98-year history but only a few of them have been game-changers like this one,” he told the crowd this morning.
“In the 1940s the Lockheed Constellation meant we could fly around the world, and in the 1960s the Boeing 707 took us into the jet age and cut flying time in half. The Boeing 747 changed the economics of travel for millions of people and the sheer size of the Airbus A380 meant we could reimagine what inflight service was like.
“Our version of the Dreamliner follows in those footsteps. It gives us a combination of flying range and passenger comfort that will change how people travel.
“This aircraft means we can finally offer a direct link between Australia and Europe, with our Perth to London flight that starts next year. We’re looking at several other exciting route options as well.”
The pilot waves as he guides Great Southern Land home. Image supplied.
Qantas’s second Dreamliner is currently being put together at Boeing’s Seattle headquarters and is expected to arrive in Australia in early 2018. Subsequent Dreamliners will be delivered in July and August, taking over the Brisbane-Los Angeles-New York route, while the last of the planes are expected to arrive before the end of 2018 and take up another Brisbane to US route.
Passenger capacity: Qantas’s Dreamliner seats 236, although other airlines have configured the aircraft to fit more than 300 passengers, meaning the Qantas Dreamliner cabins are particularly spacious.
Fuel efficiency: The Dreamliner uses 20 per cent less fuel than other aircraft in its size-range.
Cabin atmosphere: The Dreamliner’s cabin air pressure is equivalent to 6000 feet instead of the usual 8000 feet, so the conditions are more similar to those on the ground.
Window size: The windows are 65 per cent larger and the Dreamliner has done away with the pull-down window shade, replacing it with a push-button system that shades the windows five different levels of opaque.
Seat size: In Business Class, the seats are more than two metres long and 63.5 centimetres wide; in Premium Economy they’re 10 per cent wider than existing Premium Economy seats; and in Economy, the chairs have an extra inch of seat pitch compared to those in the A380.
Jet lag: Qantas has partnered with Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre to devise a new way to fly, collaborating on things like cabin atmosphere, lighting and food in order to combat the effects and severity of jet lag.