Australia's national airline, Qantas, has unveiled its first Boeing Dreamliner, the "game-changing" aircraft that it says will open up new routes and new levels of comfort for travellers.
The latest addition to the Qantas fleet, the 787-9 Dreamliner features next generation seating in economy, premium economy and business class, with more space and a lower passenger count than most of its competitors.
Other Dreamliner features include larger windows to create a greater sense of space, better air quality to help reduce jetlag and ride dampening technology to minimise the effects of turbulence. It is also quieter, more fuel efficient and generates fewer greenhouse emissions than similarly-sized aircraft
At a ceremony at the Boeing factory in Seattle, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the first Dreamliner signalled the start of an exciting new era for the national carrier and for the travelling public.
“Taking delivery of a new type of aircraft is always an important milestone for an airline and the 787 is a game-changer," Joyce said. "From the distance it's able to fly, to the attention to detail we've put into the cabin design, it will reshape what people come to expect from international travel.
“The Dreamliner makes routes like Perth to London possible - which will be the first direct air link Australia has ever had with Europe. And it means other potential routes are now on the drawing board as well.
“There are lots of elements that combine to make the Qantas Dreamliner special. The seats, the lighting, the entertainment, personal storage, right through to the special crockery, cutlery and glassware that weighs on average 11% less.
“We're working with sleep specialists, dieticians and other scientists at the University of Sydney to see how adjustments to our in-flight service can improve wellbeing and help people adjust to new time zones.”
A total of eight Dreamliners will be delivered to Qantas by the end of 2018, enabling the retirement of five of the airline's 747s.
Two Dreamliner routes have been announced so far – Melbourne to Los Angles starting in December this year and Perth to London starting in March next year. While I'm not sure I want to fly non-stop over such longer distance, many travellers will welcome the new aircraft.
The name Great Southern Land was chosen for the first aircraft out of 45,000 suggestions from the travelling public. Each Dreamliner will be named after something that is uniquely Australian, including animals, places and literature.
As part of the aircraft unveiling in Seattle, Australian band, Icehouse, performed its anthemic 1982 song Great Southern Land, the inspiration for which came to singer and songwriter, Iva Davies, as a Qantas flight crossed the country's red centre.
The Dreamliner is painted in Qantas' updated livery, first revealed in late 2016 in preparation for new aircraft entering the fleet and the airline's centenary in 2020. This marks only the fifth time the iconic Flying Kangaroo has been updated, with those updates traditionally coinciding with the introduction of a significant new aircraft type.
The Dreamliner, registered as VH-ZNA, is scheduled to land in Sydney on Friday morning (October 20) after it performs a flyover of Sydney Harbour, weather and air traffic control permitting.