The WA Chapter of the Australian Aerobatics Club is hosting the WA State Aerobatics Competition at Murrayfield (near Mandurah) on 18 and 19 October 2014.

UPDATE: Aircraft will begin arriving from 7:30am Saturday, with pilot briefing at 8:30am and aerobatics start at 9:30am. Flying will continue throughout the day, with a break at midday.

Adam Gibbs, President of the WA Chapter Australian Aerobatics Club advised AviationWA that there will be five categories, based on difficulty (Graduate, Sportsman, Intermediate, Advanced, and Unlimited), plus a Cessna 152 trophy for the highest placed Cessna 152 pilot in the Graduate category.

For every category, the pilots must fly a Known aerobatics sequence in a ‘box’ of airspace measuring 1000 metres x 1000 metres x 1000 metres. Participating pilots are provided with the sequence at the start of the calender year, so the pilots have plenty of time to practice for it – hence the term ‘Known’.

Each manoeuvre is given a score out of 10 by judges on the ground, and this is multiplied by a difficulty factor (“K”).  Zero scores may be awarded for completely messing up the manoeuvre, flying too low, flying it in the wrong direction, etc. The total score for all the manoeuvres is tallied up along with any penalties and a score for positioning, and the pilot given an overall % score for the sequence.

In the Graduate category, pilots fly this Known twice, and then pilots are ranked on overall score to determine the winner. The current sequence is here: http://www.aerobaticsaustralia.com.au/sequences/2014/graduate2014.pdf (loop, half cuban, roll-off-the-top, 1-turn spin, stall turn, slow roll, 180 degree steep turn, 270 degree steep turn)

In every category above Graduate, the pilots must also fly a ‘Free’ sequence (a sequence they’ve designed themselves, that meets certain criteria and overall difficulty/K factor) and an ‘Unknown’ sequence (a sequence that is given to pilots the day before, that they cannot practice).

The scores from the Known, Free and Unknown are combined to give an overall percentage, and the contestants are then ranked.

At the end of the competition, there is usually a 4-minute freestyle flight, either a demonstration or an actual competition. This is for the pilots with the highest skill level and is more air-display type flying with tumbles, smoke and noise. The pilots are judged on extra things like creativity, positioning, energy, variety, etc.

The competition is open to any pilot with a General Flying Progress Test (GFPT) and Aerobatics endorsement. For insurance purposes, participating pilots must be at least a State member of the Australian Aerobatics Club, which is only $35 and can be sorted out that morning. If the pilot does not have a low level waiver, they can fly the sequence down to their normal 3000 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) or they can fly down to 1500 feet AGL with a safety pilot aboard who has the appropriate waiver.

There should be plenty of Cessna 152s and a Super Decathlon available, so pilots shouldn’t have any problems getting an aircraft to participate in. There will be a briefing at the start of each day to go over the rules, conditions, procedures, etc.

Adam Gibbs will also be available for coaching from the air or ground, if people want to get into it before the competition.

Any pilots interested in taking part can contact Adam Gibbs mobile: 0439 468 299, or email admin@wacaac.org. More details are available on the club’s website, http://www.wacaac.org/ .

Aircraft expected to attend (UPDATED – subject to change) include:

  • VH-AAZ American Champion 8KCAB Super Decathlon
  • VH-NQX American Champion 8KCAB Super Decathlon
  • VH-BQO Christen Eagle II
  • VH-IXN Extra EA-330LX
  • VH-NBX Extra EA-300L
  • VH-WFX Extra EA-300L
  • VH-WMX MXS Technologies MXS
  • VH-JKR Stephens Akro Laser 230 “The Joker”
  • VH-VSW Vans RV-8A
  • …and some Royal Aero Club of WA Cessna 152 Aerobats.
VH-WFX Extra EA 300L (MSN 1276) at Jandakot Airport – 8 Oct 2014.

VH-WFX Extra EA 300L (MSN 1276) at Jandakot Airport – 8 Oct 2014.
Photo © Keith Anderson.

VH-IXN Extra EA-330LX (MSN LC-007) of Awesome Asset Securities Pty Ltd/Awesome Aviation at Jandakot Airport - Sun 27 October 2013.

VH-IXN Extra EA-330LX (MSN LC-007) of Awesome Asset Securities Pty Ltd/Awesome Aviation at Jandakot Airport – Sun 27 October 2013.
This aircraft was built in 2011, and registered on 13 December 2011.
Photo © David Eyre

VH-NBX Extra EA300L (cn 082) of Neville Bergin at Jandakot Airport – Sun 26 May 2013 – ACFT Open Day

VH-NBX Extra EA300L (cn 082) of Neville Bergin at Jandakot Airport – Sun 26 May 2013 – ACFT Open Day
Built 1999 in Germany. Ex D-EXEA, G-EXEA.
Photo © Keith Anderson

VH-JKR Stephens Akro Laser 230 (MSN 1) of Aeros Casino Pty Ltd, 'The Joker', at RAAF Pearce Air Show - 19 November 2005.  The Laser 230 was the predecessor of the Zivko Edge 540, which later gained fame during the Red Bull Air Race series. Built in 1983, ex N388D, ZS-VAC.  Photo © David Eyre

VH-JKR Stephens Akro Laser 230 (MSN 1) of Aeros Casino Pty Ltd, ‘The Joker’, at RAAF Pearce Air Show – 19 November 2005.
The Laser 230 was the predecessor of the Zivko Edge 540, which later gained fame during the Red Bull Air Race series. Built in 1983, ex N388D, ZS-VAC.
Photo © David Eyre

VH-AAZ American Champion 8KCAB Super Decathlon (MSN 752-95) owned by Inverted Pty Ltd, at Jandakot Airport, Mon 9 December 2013.

VH-AAZ American Champion 8KCAB Super Decathlon (MSN 752-95) owned by Inverted Pty Ltd, at Jandakot Airport, Mon 9 December 2013.
Built in 1995.
Photo © David Eyre

VH-BQO Christen Eagle II (MSN V81) owned by Eagle Magic Pty Ltd and flown by Adam Gibbs, at at SABC Annual Fly In, Serpentine Airfield – Sun 28 September 2014. VH-BQO was built by its first owner in Ballarat, Victoria in 1986 and initially registered VH-BOO. The aircraft was sold to a syndicate from Jandakot, comprising brothers Neill and Ted Rear, Peter Yates, and Kevin Bailey. In 1988 Kevin, sponsored by Rabbit Photos, flew VH-BOO in aerobatic displays at all Australian mainland capital cities, as part of Australia's bicentennial celebrations. On 20 Jan 1989, Peter Yates was flying the Eagle when the original fixed-pitch wooden propeller separated, and he made a perfect forced landed in a paddock 4 miles south of Jandakot. During the 3 months it was out of the sky, it was fitted with a constant speed propeller and the minor damage caused by the prop separation was repaired. CASA had reallocated the registration VH-BOO to another aircraft, so it was registered VH-BQO. In 1995, it was registered to Eagle Magic Pty Ltd. Photo © David Eyre

VH-BQO Christen Eagle II (MSN V81) owned by Eagle Magic Pty Ltd and flown by Adam Gibbs, at at SABC Annual Fly In, Serpentine Airfield – Sun 28 September 2014.
VH-BQO was built by its first owner in Ballarat, Victoria in 1986 and initially registered VH-BOO. The aircraft was sold to a syndicate from Jandakot, comprising brothers Neill and Ted Rear, Peter Yates, and Kevin Bailey. In 1988 Kevin, sponsored by Rabbit Photos, flew VH-BOO in aerobatic displays at all Australian mainland capital cities, as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations. On 20 Jan 1989, Peter Yates was flying the Eagle when the original fixed-pitch wooden propeller separated, and he made a perfect forced landed in a paddock 4 miles south of Jandakot. During the 3 months it was out of the sky, it was fitted with a constant speed propeller and the minor damage caused by the prop separation was repaired. CASA had reallocated the registration VH-BOO to another aircraft, so it was registered VH-BQO. In 1995, it was registered to Eagle Magic Pty Ltd.
Photo © David Eyre

VH-VSW Vans RV-8A (MSN 80425) at Serpentine Airfield – 28 Sept 2014

VH-VSW Vans RV-8A (MSN 80425) at Serpentine Airfield – 28 Sept 2014
Photo © Keith Anderson.

VH-RWJ Cessna A152 Aerobat (MSN A1520845) of the Royal Aero Club of WA Inc, at Jandakot Airport - Fri 30 May 2014. Photo © David Eyre

VH-RWJ Cessna A152 Aerobat (MSN A1520845) of the Royal Aero Club of WA Inc, at Jandakot Airport – Fri 30 May 2014.
Built in 1979, ex N4621A. Taking off from runway 06L.
Photo © David Eyre

Serpentine Airfield – 28 Sept 2014

Serpentine Airfield – 28 Sept 2014

On the last Sunday in September each year, the Sport Aircraft Builders Club of WA Inc (SABC) hosts its Annual Fly-In at the SABC’s airfield at Serpentine Airfield, about an hour’s drive south of Perth, WA.

The fly-in includes aircraft ranging from a World War One Sopwith Pup, to modern, state-of-the-art sportsplanes like the Evo Rocket, ultralights, vintage biplanes and warbirds.

Photos by David Eyre and Keith Anderson have been added to a special photos webpage covering the event – CLICK HERE

VH-XSJ Airbus A320-232 (MSN 5482) of Jetstar, at Perth Airport – Fri 18 July 2014. Formerly 9V-JST with Jetstar Asia (Singapore). Landing on runway 03 as JQ974 from Adelaide at 16:02. Photo © David Eyre

VH-XSJ Airbus A320-232 (MSN 5482) of Jetstar, at Perth Airport – Fri 18 July 2014.
Formerly 9V-JST with Jetstar Asia (Singapore). Landing on runway 03 as JQ974 from Adelaide at 16:02.
Photo © David Eyre

Qantas Group will use Jetstar’s Airbus A320 aircraft to operate Fly-In, Fly-Out (FIFO) charter flights to Solomon and Cloudbreak iron ore mines, following a request from Fortescue Metals Group (FMG).

The Jetstar A320s have 180 seats, allowing FMG to move entire operations crews together, reducing the number of flights required and the number of air traffic departure slots at the capacity-constrained Perth Airport. Currently, the flights to Solomon and Cloudbreak use 100-seat Fokker 100s of Network Aviation and 125-seat Boeing 717s of QantasLink (both also part of the Qantas Group). Qantas’ own 737-800s have a capacity of 168 seats, and these are used together with Network’s Fokker 100s on services to Christmas Creek, another FMG mine.

Jetstar’s A320s will operate on the Solomon and Cloudbreak services from December 2014, during Tuesdays to Thursdays. As Jetstar’s aircraft utilisation increases on weekends due to leisure passengers, the FMG flights will also improve aircraft utilisation during the week, when they are less busy.

Qantas will consider offering Jetstar A320s for other FIFO work.

Skywest (now Virgin Australia Regional Airlines) previously used its first A320 (VH-FNP) on the Cloudbreak route, when it operated the FMG contract.

Artist impression of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. © Boeing

Artist impression of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
© Boeing

14 October 2014 – Copyright © David Eyre

Garuda Indonesia has ordered 46 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft and converted an existing order for four Boeing 737-800s to 737 MAX 8s. The order is worth US$4.9 billion at current list prices, though the airline would have received significant discounts for a large order. Delivery dates have not been released.

The 737 MAX incorporates the new CFM International LEAP-1B engines, split winglets and other aerodynamic and technological improvements, making it 14 percent more fuel-efficient than current versions of the 737NG (737-600/700/800/900) and 20 percent better than earlier 737NGs.

Garuda currently already operates 79 Boeing 737 aircraft (1 737-300, 3 737-500s, 75 737-800s), and still has some 737-800s on order.

Garuda currently uses the Boeing 737-800 on services between Jakarta and Perth, and until recently also used them on services to Bali (replaced on that route by Airbus A330s).

Garuda and its competitor, Lion Air, will be the largest airlines in the South East Asia region by the end of 2014. Garuda expects to have 194 aircraft in service by the end of 2015. Garuda will reduce capacity in 2014 by selling older aircraft and deferring some new aircraft deliveries because of excess capacity, but will then increase its fleet to about 250 by the end of 2025.

Boeing’s 737 MAX family has a total of 2,295 orders from 47 customers, with the prototype 737 MAX aircraft due to make its first flight in 2016.

A7-ALA Airbus A350-941 (MSN 006) of Qatar Airways, at Toulouse, France - 2 October 2014. The first A350 for Qatar Airways, seen after rollout at the Airbus factory. Photo copyright Master Films / JB Accariez

A7-ALA Airbus A350-941 (MSN 006) of Qatar Airways, at Toulouse, France – 2 October 2014.
The first A350 for Qatar Airways, seen after rollout at the Airbus factory.
Photo copyright Master Films / JB Accariez

2 October 2014

The first Airbus A350-900 for Qatar Airways, A7-ALA (MSN 006) was rolled out of the Airbus factory in Toulouse today, fully painted and with the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines fitted. Delivery is expected by the end of the year.

Qatar Airways has ordered 43 of the 315-seater A350-900, with deliveries starting late in 2014 and 37 of the 369-seater A350-1000, with deliveries starting in 2017. The airline expects to have nine A350-900s in service by the end of 2015, followed by one delivery each month in 2016 and two per month in 2017.

The A350 will be used on Doha – Perth services from early 2015.

The A350-900 achieved European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Type Certification on 30 September 2014. FAA certification is expected to follow soon after. To celebrate, Airbus flew all five A350 development aircraft in formation:

As part of its certification program, the A350-900 (F-WWYB, MSN 005) visited Perth on 10 August 2014, during route proving trials.

At the end of September, the A350 XWB had 750 orders from 39 customers.

A6-BLA Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 39646/229) of Etihad Airways at Boeing, Paine Field, Washington, USA - 28 September 2014. The first 787-9 Dreamliner for Etihad Airways outside Boeing's paint hangar, painted in the airline’s new ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ livery, which uses colours to represent the desert landscape, and inspired by the culture, Islamic design and architecture motifs of the United Arab Emirates. Photo © Boeing

A6-BLA Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 39646/229) of Etihad Airways at Boeing, Paine Field, Washington, USA – 28 September 2014.
The first 787-9 Dreamliner for Etihad Airways outside Boeing’s paint hangar, painted in the airline’s new ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ livery, which uses colours representing the desert landscape of the United Arab Emirates.
Photo © Boeing

29 September 2014

Etihad Airways unveiled its new livery on its first Airbus A380 and its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner this week.

Etihad’s media release states that “The new ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ livery uses a color palette which reflects the varying hues of the landscape of the UAE, from the darker sands of the Liwa desert to the lighter colours seen in the Northern Emirates. The result of extensive research, the design will also be a key feature of the new cabin interiors being introduced on Etihad Airways’ Boeing 787 aircraft.”

Every new aircraft will be delivered in the new livery, and the whole fleet will have been repainted in the new livery by late 2017.

Etihad has stated that the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will be used on Abu Dhabi – Perth services during 2016/17, replacing the current Airbus A330-200. The first Australian destination will be Brisbane, from the first half of 2015.

Etihad has 104 aircraft in service, with another 204 aircraft on order. These include 41 Boeing 787-9s and 30 Boeing 787-10s.

7 September 2014 (UPDATED 29 September 2014)

Scoot Airlines is to replace the current Boeing 777-200ER aircraft used on Singapore – Perth services from 1 January 2015 (originally scheduled from 29 March 2015) (subject to change) with a five times weekly Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner service.

Scoot commenced its Singapore – Perth services in December 2013, using a fleet of six Boeing 777-200ER from parent company Singapore Airlines (SIA).

20 Boeing 787-9s were originally ordered by SIA, but SIA later decided to transfer the 787s to Scoot, which has now split the order into 10 Boeing 787-8s and ten of the larger Boeing 787-9s.

Scoot will take delivery of Boeing 787-9s from November 2014.

The first of the smaller 787-8 Dreamliners will be delivered in mid-2015. The current Boeing 777-200ER fleet with then be retired and Scoot will become an all-787 operator.

9V-OTA Boeing 777-212ER (MSN 28507/67) of Scoot, named ‘Barry’, at Perth Airport - Thu 17 July 2014. ‘SCOOTER 008’ from Singapore, landing on runway 03 at 17:25. Photo © David Eyre

9V-OTA Boeing 777-212ER (MSN 28507/67) of Scoot, named ‘Barry’, at Perth Airport – Thu 17 July 2014.
‘SCOOTER 008’ from Singapore, landing on runway 03 at 17:25.
Photo © David Eyre

The Virgin Australia Pier at Terminal 1, under construction at Perth Airport - 5 September 2014. Delays in construction have pushed back the opening of the Pier from the original June 2014 to June 2015. Photo © David Eyre

The Virgin Australia Pier at Terminal 1, under construction at Perth Airport – 5 September 2014.
Delays in construction have pushed back the opening of the Pier from the original June 2014 to June 2015.
Photo © David Eyre

In an article in The Australian, Steve Creedy reports on Virgin Australia’s frustration with delays to Perth Airport’s construction of the new Virgin Australia pier at Terminal 1.

The new pier was originally scheduled to be completed in June 2014, but repeated delays mean it will be around June 2015 before it opens.

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti hopes that there will be no further delays, although he is not confident.

Borghetti acknowledged that airport projects are complex, but “it’s not the first airport project that’s ever been put together and there far more complex ones than this one.’’

He says the delays are costing Virgin “tens of millions of dollars”. Perth Airport is to be the first in Australia to introduce Virgin’s new check-in technology, but the construction problems have delayed the national rollout of this technology as the plans cannot be changed. Perth currently has inferior Virgin Australia lounges and facilities compared to the Eastern States, and Virgin is operating from three separate terminals (T1, T2 and T3) on opposite sides of Perth Airport, causing passenger confusion.

Perth Airport regrets the construction delays and confirmed that Virgin will move into the new Pier in June 2015, one year later than planned.

21 September 2014 – copyright David Eyre

The Boeing 787-8 version of the Dreamliner visited Perth for the first time on Sunday 21 September 2014, with the arrival of Thai Airways flight TG483 from Bangkok.

The first service was operated by HS-TQB, which departed Bangkok as flight TG483 at 12:24am Bangkok time (1:24am Perth time), and after a flight time of 5 hours 58 minutes, landed on runway 03 at 7:22am. It departed Perth back to Bangkok at 9:22am as TG484, taking off runway 03, and landed at Bangkok 6 hours 36 minutes later.

Thai’s Boeing 787 is only being used temporarily on Perth services for the five times per week TG483/484 service, until 25 October 2014 (arriving 26 October 2014). The 787s are needed for their Bangkok-Fukuoka (Japan) service. The TG483/484 service will revert back to Airbus A330-300s from 26 October 2014 (arriving Perth 27 October 2014). Thai’s website currently shows that the 787 will return to Bangkok-Perth services from 29 March 2015. This is subject to change.

HS-TQB is the second of six Boeing 787-8s on order, and is so new that it was only delivered from Seattle to Bangkok on 16-17 September 2014.
HS-TQB’s arrival in Perth was only its third revenue flight and its first international flight – the previous two flights were made the day before – two short 1-hour domestic services within Thailand. This was also the first visit to Perth by the smaller Boeing 787-8 model.

Air New Zealand’s larger 787-9 made the first Boeing 787 visit to Perth on 12 September 2014.

The ‘Royal Silk’ business class cabin contains 24 seats in four rows of lie-flat seats in a 2-2-2 abreast layout. The Economy section has 240 seats in 3-3-3 abreast layout.

Thai Airways ordered six Boeing 787-8s and two 787-9s, all leased for 12 years from ILFC. Four 787-8s are to be delivered from July to December 2014 and two more by June 2015. In 2017, two of the larger Boeing 787-9s will be delivered.

Their first 787-8, HS-TQA, was delivered on 17-18 July 2014, and entered service on 25 July 2014, operating daily one-hour domestic flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand until 10 September 2014, to train up the cabin crews. It then operated daily international services between Bangkok and Tokyo from 11 September 2014.

MORE PHOTOS IN OUR AIRCRAFT PHOTOS SECTION – CLICK HERE

*** 1st Visit to Perth - 1st Visit to Australia - 1st Type to Perth ***

*** 1st Visit to Perth – 1st Visit to Australia – 1st Type to Perth ***
HS-TQB Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (MSN 35316) of Thai Airways International at Perth Airport – Sun 21 Sept 2014.
Delivered only 4 days ago, the aircraft is seen on short finals to runway 03 at 7:17 am.
Photo © Keith Anderson.

HS-TQB Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (MSN 35316/209) named 'Chaturaphak Phiman', of Thai Airways International at Perth Airport – Sun 21 September 2014. First visit to Perth by the Boeing 787-8 version of the Dreamliner. HS-TQB was delivered new to Thai on 17 September 2014 and had only performed its first revenue service the day before this photo - a domestic flight Bangkok - Chiang Mai - Bangkok. It is seen here about to land on Perth's runway 03 at 7:22am as flight TG483 from Bangkok. Photo © David Eyre

HS-TQB Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (MSN 35316/209) named ‘Chaturaphak Phiman’, of Thai Airways International at Perth Airport – Sun 21 September 2014.
First visit to Perth by the Boeing 787-8 version of the Dreamliner. HS-TQB was delivered new to Thai on 17 September 2014 and had only performed its first revenue service the day before this photo – a domestic flight Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Bangkok. It is seen here about to land on Perth’s runway 03 at 7:22am as flight TG483 from Bangkok.
Photo © David Eyre

*** 1st Visit to Perth - 1st Visit to Australia - 1st Type to Perth ***

*** 1st Visit to Perth – 1st Visit to Australia – 1st Type to Perth ***
HS-TQB Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (MSN 35316) of Thai Airways International at Perth Airport – Sun 21 Sept 2014.
Delivered only 4 days ago, the aircraft is seen taxying for a runway 03 departure at 9:16 am.
Photo © Keith Anderson.

*** 1st Visit to Perth - 1st Visit to Australia - 1st Type to Perth ***

*** 1st Visit to Perth – 1st Visit to Australia – 1st Type to Perth ***
HS-TQB Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (MSN 35316) of Thai Airways International at Perth Airport – Sun 21 Sept 2014.
Delivered only 4 days ago, the aircraft is seen taxying for a runway 03 departure at 9:16 am.
Photo © Keith Anderson.

ZK-NZE Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 34334/169) of Air New Zealand, in special all-black livery, at Perth Airport – Fri 12 Sept 2014. The first visit to Perth by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, landing on runway 24 at 5:22 pm (40 minutes early), as flight NZ175 from Auckland. It departed Perth back to Auckland at 9:26pm as NZ176. At the time of this photo, ZK-NZE was the only 787 delivered to Air New Zealand. Photo © Air New Zealand - used with permission.

ZK-NZE Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 34334/169) of Air New Zealand, in special all-black livery, at Perth Airport – Fri 12 Sept 2014.
The first visit to Perth by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, landing on runway 24 at 5:22 pm (40 minutes early), as flight NZ175 from Auckland. It departed Perth back to Auckland at 9:26pm as NZ176. At the time of this photo, ZK-NZE was the only 787 delivered to Air New Zealand.
Photo © Air New Zealand – used with permission.

Flight deck of ZK-NZE Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 34334/169) of Air New Zealand, at Perth Airport – Fri 12 Sept 2014. The first visit to Perth by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo © David Eyre

Flight deck of ZK-NZE Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 34334/169) of Air New Zealand, at Perth Airport – Fri 12 Sept 2014.
The first visit to Perth by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Photo © David Eyre

ZK-NZE Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 34334/169) of Air New Zealand, at Perth Airport – Fri 12 Sept 2014. The first visit to Perth by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. There are 18 Business Premier seats in the forward section of the aircraft. The seats are made of soft leather and can convert to a lie-flat bed with a memory foam mattress, two full sized pillows and a duvee. The footrest doubles as a seat, and there is a large flip-out table near the footrest. Photo © David Eyre

ZK-NZE Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (MSN 34334/169) of Air New Zealand, at Perth Airport – Fri 12 Sept 2014.
The first visit to Perth by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. There are 18 Business Premier seats in the forward section of the aircraft. The seats are made of soft leather and can convert to a lie-flat bed with a memory foam mattress, two full sized pillows and a duvee. The footrest doubles as a seat, and there is a large flip-out table near the footrest.
Photo © David Eyre

CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE FIRST BOEING 787 VISIT TO PERTH

Copyright 2014 David Eyre

Air New Zealand celebrated the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner service to Perth on 12 September 2014, with the arrival of Boeing 787-9 ZK-NZE in a special all-over black paint scheme, operating the NZ175/176 service between Auckland and Perth.

Flight NZ175 took off from Auckland at 14:39 Auckland time (10:39 Perth time), and landed on Perth’s runway 24 at 17:22 Perth time, a flight time of 6 hours 43 minutes, around 40 minutes early. It took off from Perth at 9:26pm back to Auckland, arriving there at 7:12am (Auckland time) the next morning, with flight time of 5 hours 45 minutes.

The airline planned replacing the previous scheduled Boeing 777-200ER on Auckland a day by day basis from 12 September 2014 until 15 October when it is guaranteed daily on from 12 September, transitioning to guaranteed daily 787 Auckland-Perth services from 15 October 2014, when their second 787 would be delivered.

ZK-NZE is the first of ten 787-9s on order for Air New Zealand. It was delivered on 10-11 July 2014 direct from Seattle to Auckland. It then spent three weeks on the ground at Auckland doing simulated ‘flights’, where actual operations including refuelling, flight crew on board, and Air New Zealand staff volunteering as ‘passengers’ and receiving full meal service. The first flight post-delivery was a non-revenue flight Auckland-Sydney-Auckland on 25 July 2014, followed by a few domestic non-revenue flights. The first revenue service was 9 August 2014, when ZK-NZE replaced the 767-300ER/777-200ER on NZ103 Auckland to Sydney. It then operated daily on the Auckland – Sydney route until 11 September 2014.

Air New Zealand currently only has ZK-NZE in service and it is performing well. It made 74 revenue flights between Auckland and Sydney, and Captain Morgan confirmed that there have been no delays due to the aircraft . There was one delayed departure, but this was due to the refuellers, not the aircraft. The first Auckland-Perth 787 flight was its 75th revenue service.

At a media event at Perth Airport to celebrate the first 787 flight to Perth, Alison Bone, Communications Director Australia-New Zealand at Boeing said that 180 Dreamliners had been delivered to date, and that Air New Zealand had played a role in the development of the 787-9. She also emphasised the Australian-made content in the 787; Boeing Australia build all 787 trailing edge surfaces (ailerons, flaps, elevators, rudders) in Melbourne, worth some $5 billion over the life of the program.

Air New Zealand said that Perth is an important market for Air New Zealand in terms of business and tourist travellers. 170,000 passengers travelled on the Perth-Auckland route in the 12 months ending May 2014, and 15,000 passengers on the seasonal Perth-Christchurch service. Air New Zealand will also be using the 787 to Shanghai and Tokyo by the end of 2014.

The airline initially put the 787 into service on the shorter scheduled route between Auckland and Sydney, to give cabin and flight crews more flights to train on.

Captain Dave Morgan, Chief Pilot at Air New Zealand, said that “The aircraft is delightful to fly. It handles well and feels like a Boeing 777, which makes it easy for conversion between the two types. The cockpit is noticeably quieter and this helps reduce pilot fatigue.”

Morgan joined Air New Zealand in 1985. Before becoming a pilot, he had been a travel agent – he joked “I decided that instead of selling seats in the back of an aircraft, I would fly in the front seat!”

On this first Auckland-Perth flight, Morgan flew across to Perth in business class and found it so quiet that you can actually hear other conversations in the cabin.

Morgan emphasised the Boeing 787’s fuel efficiency and passenger comfort. Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787s use quieter and more fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, reducing the noise footprint on the ground, making it more airport-friendly. The 787 uses 20 per cent less fuel than the Boeing 767s it is replacing in the Air New Zealand fleet. It also uses significantly less fuel than a Boeing 747-400 (which is admittedly a larger aircraft). The 747 consumes around 35% more fuel per passenger than the 787.

For example, on a typical flight between Sydney and Auckland, the 747-400 uses 42 to 46 tonnes of fuel. The 787 uses just 12 tonnes. The cost of a barrel of jet fuel is more than 180 percent higher today than it was ten years ago, when Air New Zealand first placed their 787-9 order.

By coincidence, on the morning of Air New Zealand’s first 787 flight from Auckland to Perth, their last 747-400 flight arrived at Auckland from San Francisco.

Air New Zealand’s 787-9s carry 302 passengers – 18 Business Premier seats, 21 Premium Economy and 263 Economy seats (including 14 rows of Skycouch seats).

  • Business Premier – 18 seats are located in the forward section of the aircraft. The seats are made of soft leather and can convert to a lie-flat bed with a memory foam mattress, two full sized pillows and a duvee. The footrest doubles as a seat, and there is a large flip-out table near the footrest.
  • Premium Economy – 21 of these seats are located just aft of Business Class. These black leather seats are 19.3 inches wide, can recline 9 inches, include a leg rest and extendable foot support, and have generous legroom (41-inch seat pitch), compared to 31-33 inches in the regular Economy section.
  • Skycouch Economy – The economy section includes the Skycouch seats that Air New Zealand developed – these are 14 rows of three seats that can be converted into a flat bed. These seats are 17.2 inches wide, 5-inch recline, have 33-inch seat pitch, and when laid flat are 5 feet 1 inch across. Each seat has an adjustable leg rest.
  • Economy – Standard Economy seats are 17.2 inches wide, with 31-33 inch seat pitch and 5-inch recline.

The 787 also has a number of interesting features to enhance the passenger’s comfort, so that they feel better and less tired on arrival at their destination:

  • Bigger windows, with electronic window tinting – The stronger composite fuselage of the 787 allows use of larger passenger windows than other jet airliners (47 cm by 27 cm). Rather than the old pull-down window blinds, the 787’s windows have electro-chromatic tinting – this darkens or lightens the tinting at the push of a button
  • Smoother ride – Sensors on the 787 are designed to counter the effects of turbulence by causing certain control surfaces to move slightly. This helps maintain a smoother flight, reducing nausea.
  • Higher cabin pressure – Most airliners have cabin pressure at an equivalent of around 8,000 feet above sea level, which causes headaches, muscle aches, fatigue and even nausea. This is because the metallic construction of other airliners could suffer fatigue cracking due to the higher stresses involved with a higher cabin pressure, or would have to be built stronger and heavier. The 787’s composite construction enables a cabin pressure equivalent to 6,000 feet altitude, which testing has revealed is similar to sea level in terms of less reported symptoms.
  • Higher humidity, purer air – Humidity in metallic airliner cabins is reduced to prevent corrosion, but this leads to eye and throat irritation, dizziness, headaches and post-flight colds. The 787’s composite construction means that the cabin can be more humid and the air is filtered to remove impurities.
  • Quieter – The engines are designed to be quieter, and in addition, the rear edge of the engine nacelles is serrated (known as ‘chevrons’) to reduce noise. The cabin has noise attenuation features.

Air New Zealand’s next 787-9, ZK-NZF, was test flown on the following Sunday (14 November 2014) at the Boeing factory in Seattle.

Air New Zealand intends to have three 787-9s in service by the end of 2014 and another three delivered in 2015, with four more following after that.