The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its first landing in the UK on Sunday with UK launch customer Thomson Airways promising to fly to “exciting new destinations”.
The aircraft flew in for the Farnborough Air Show, its first appearance outside the US since its maiden flight in December, and will be at the show all week – although not flying. It should enter service within six months.
Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways will take delivery of the first 787, with manufacturer Boeing promising delivery by the first week of 2011.
Thomson Airways, which will be the first UK carrier to fly the 787, hailed the aircraft as “the greatest advance for air passengers since the development of Concorde”.
It expects the first of its eight 787s in January 2012. The carrier’s managing director Chris Browne said: “The Dreamliner will transform long-haul travel. We will be announcing a number of exciting new destinations.”
That transformation is due primarily to the materials used in the 787, which is largely comprised of carbon composites rather than aluminium – making it lighter and 20% to 25% more fuel efficient, and therefore cheaper to operate.
The aircraft will bring within range long-haul routes that were previously uneconomic to operate – including from regional airports.
A combination of the materials used and the latest technology should also mean long-haul passengers arrive in a better condition because the 787 cabin will be at a more comfortable pressure and less dehydrating than on flights today.
The aircraft’s arrival in the UK represents a milestone following two years of delays to production. Delivery of the first aircraft has recently been put back yet again, but TUI said it was not expecting a fresh delay to delivery of its aircraft.
Thomson’s parent company TUI Travel has a further five 787s on order, making 13 in all for the group. British Airways and Monarch Airways also have 787s on order.