Monday, April 07, 2014

Fancy new airplane

Air New Zealand has unveiled their Boeing 787-9, and it’s a beautiful plane. I suppose I would say that, of course, for a lot of reasons.

More than a decade ago, Boeing recruited airline passengers to be part of their "World Design Team" for their new plane, and I signed up. I don't know how much stock they put on what we said, but it at least meant that we were kept up to date with the development of the plane that became the Dreamliner (in 2005, we were asked to vote for our favourite name; I didn't pick "Dreamliner", though I can't remember what I DID pick—it was a long time ago!). I also advocated for more legroom.

Air New Zealand’s plane will be the first 787-9 to enter service (they’ll take delivery in July and it will begin service in October). The plane has greater range and capacity than the earlier 787 models to enter service.

The black paint was something of a novelty when it was first introduced, with critics saying that heat would be a problem. But Air New Zealand found that it turned out to be a non-issue, which is good: I think it makes the plane look stunning. I should note that the other nine 787-9s will be painted white with a black tail.

The only black plane I can ever remember seeing before Air New Zealand started painting their planes black was many, many years ago, when I lived in Chicago. A few times when I flew from O’Hare I saw a plane that I presume was Hugh Heffner’s—painted black with the Playboy bunny on the tail.

So, I’ve been “part” of the process that led to the Dreamliner, and Air New Zealand is my favourite airline, and that may make it may seem obvious that I’d like Air New Zealand’s new plane. But it’s the look of the plane that appeals to me, not its heritage or owners. Sometimes, looks do matter—even 13,000 metres in the sky.

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