It may have been three years late in arriving at All Nippon Airway’s aircraft hangar in Tokyo, but the Dreamliner’s maiden commercial flight from Japan to Hong Kong on Wednesday arrived bang on time.
Paying passengers could for the first time enjoy the highly praised technical innovations of the new generation of Boeing plane, with its more fuel-efficient engines, improved cabin pressurization (meaning passengers should feel less groggy at the end of a long flight), electronic light dimmers for the windows (no more pull-down shades), and energy-saving light-emitting diode lights.
The Dreamliner also features windows 65 percent larger than those found on most other passenger planes, and the largest overhead compartments in the airline industry.
The plane’s innovative design, with its ultra-light but extremely strong carbon fiber fuselage, results in fuel savings in the region of 20 percent compared to planes of a similar size.
The 787’s maiden passenger flight left Tokyo just after noon, landing in Hong Kong around four hours later. By all accounts, the 240 passengers on board enjoyed their experience.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Tokyo office worker Tomoko Monjugawa said, “My ears don’t pop on this plane. It’s very comfortable and it feels good on my skin as well.”
Monjugawa also said he thought it was quieter than the A380 – the new (and enormous) Airbus plane famed for its quiet engines. “The difference in sound between the 787 and the A380 is very noticeable on take-off,” he said. “The A380 roars, while the 787’s engines are just whispering.”
Systems engineer Yohei Konishi, who flies regularly, also gave it the thumbs up. “It’s really comfortable and my ears don’t hurt. It would be great if I could do all my business trips on 787s,” he said.
ANA has ordered 55 Dreamliners from Boeing and up to now has received two of them. Twenty are expected to be delivered by the end of next year. The airline believes the new passenger plane will eventually help it save around $130 million a year through fuel savings.