Boeing picked the ideal location for the 787-9 Dreamliner to make its international debut in the flight-test program. The newest member of the Dreamliner family flew nonstop from Seattle to Auckland – the longest 787-9 flight to date -- to pay a visit to launch customer Air New Zealand.
“Boeing is proud to bring the 787-9 to Auckland to show Air New Zealand what the team has achieved,” said Mark Jenks, vice president, 787 Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “With more than 150 flights since testing began in September, the test fleet continues to perform very well, and we look forward to delivering the first 787-9 in mid-2014 as promised.”
With the 787 set to become a staple of Air New Zealand’s long-haul fleet, this visit was an opportunity for the airline’s technical and flight crews to get hands-on time with the 787-9. Air New Zealand employees explored the airplane side by side with their Boeing partners — a unique opportunity not just to see their airplane, but to view a 787-9 configured for testing, unlike anything they would see in service.
“Having one of Air New Zealand’s 787-9s touch down on Kiwi soil for the first time is hugely exciting,” said Christopher Luxon, chief executive officer, Air New Zealand. “It’s a real reminder that we will soon welcome the first of these more modern, fuel-efficient aircraft into our fleet.”
The airplane, ZB002, is the second of three 787-9s dedicated to the test program, which began last September. As the only 787-9 test airplane to be fitted with elements of the passenger interior, in addition to test racks and instrumentation, Boeing uses ZB002 to test the environmental control system and other aspects of airplane performance. After the test program is complete, the airplane will be reconfigured for delivery to Air New Zealand.
The 787-9 will complement and extend the 787 family. With the fuselage stretched by 6 meters (20 feet) over the 787-8, the 787-9 will fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 555 kilometers (300 nmi) with the same exceptional environmental performance — 20 percent less fuel use and 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes. The 787-9 leverages the visionary design of the 787-8, offering passengers features such as large windows, large stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride.
Boeing is on track to deliver the first 787-9 to Air New Zealand in mid-2014. Twenty-six customers from around the world have ordered 402 787-9s, representing 39 percent of all 787 orders.