First stretch Dreamliner - in 'All Black' - lands in Auckland

The first 787-9, or stretch Dreamliner, to be delivered to an airline landed in Auckland, New Zealand July 11, 13-1/2 hours after leaving Seattle’s SeaTac Airport (SEA) with an Air New Zealand flight crew at the controls.

Stretch Dreamliner lands in Auckland
Photo courtesy Air New Zealans
The new Dreamliner, which sports a new, black livery to honor the New Zealand All Blacks, the country’s national rugby union team, will operate the Auckland – Perth route in October and to both Tokyo and Shanghai in November 2014.

"We believe it will be a game-changer for Air New Zealand, with increased levels of fuel efficiency and passenger comfort,” Rob McDonald, Air New Zealand’s Chief Financial Officer, said in a statement issued jointly with the aircraft’s manufacturer, Boeing (NYSE:BA). The plane is the first of 10 stretch Dreamliners the airline has ordered as part of an overall modernization of its fleet.

With regard to the 787-9 in general, the fuselage is 20 feet longer that the 787-8, it can carry up to 40 more passengers, and has a range of an additional 450 nautical miles. Like the 787-8, it offers what Boeing calls “exceptional environmental performance,” burning 20% less fuel and emitting 20% fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes.

Like all Dreamliners, it also features large windows, large overhead bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride. Read my previous post, Geeking out over the 787 Dreamliner, for more details.

Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, Air New Zealand configured its stretch Dreamliner to carry a total of 302 passengers, which is 22 more than Boeing’s stated design capacity of 280 passengers, and it appears passengers in the economy section will bear the brunt. According to, the aircraft’s 263 “Standard Economy” seats are indeed standard economy: 17.2 inches wide with a pitch (the distance from the seat back to the seat back in front of it) of 31-32 inches. Quite tight for a long trip.

The plane also offers 21 recliner seats in the Premium Economy section that are 19 inches wide with a pitch of 41 inches – more than many business class seats. The aircraft’s highest class is Business Premiere which has 18 seats situated in a configuration of three columns of solo seats so that each passenger has direct access to an aisle and no passenger is seated directly next to another.

Outbound Auckland to Perth flights are 7 hours, 40 minutes long while the return flights are 6 hours, 15 minutes, according to the Air New Zealand web site.

To date, 26 customers from around the world have ordered 409 787-9s, accounting for 40% of all 787 orders, according to the planes’ manufacturer.

Artist's rendering of the 787-10
Courtesy The Boeing Company
Next up, Boeing is working on the 787-10. The 787-10 will be the third and longest member of the Dreamliner family, with greater passenger and cargo capacity than either the 787-9 or the 787-8. At 224 feet long, it will be 18 feet longer than the 787-9 and 38 feet longer than the 787-8 and is designed to carry 323 passengers compared to 280 on the 787-9 and 242 on the 787-8. Its range of 7020 nautical miles, however, is the shortest of any of the Dreamliner category, according to Boeing’s fact sheets.

To date, seven customers have ordered 132 787-10s. Final assembly and flight test of the newest version of the Dreamliner are set to begin in 2017, with first delivery targeted for 2018.

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