Qantas says it will invest $100 million into supporting its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, including advanced flight simulators estimated to cost over US$15m each.
With Jetstar's first Boeing 787 due for delivery by the end of September, and 13 more to follow, the low-cost carrier's home base of Melbourne has predictably been declared as Australia's Dreamliner capital.
Bespoke facilities for the next-gen jet will encompass maintenance and training programs which Qantas says will create "up to 100 new jobs", while the moveable trailing edge components of the 787's iconic swept wings are manufactured at Boeing Aerostructures Australia's Port Melbourne plant.
“New jobs will include cabin crew trainers, simulator instructors and engineers to support the entry into service of the aircraft and the establishment of a dedicated Jetstar maintenance facility at Melbourne Airport" said Jetstar Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka, with a dedicated 787 hangar being fitted out "with the latest equipment and tooling specifically required for the new technology of the aircraft."
“Forty eight engineers and 10 pilots have already completed their training for the 787 and more training is currently underway."
Boeing 787 flight simulators manufactured by the Thales Group are estimated to cost from $15m-$18m.
Beyond Jetstar's 14 Boeing 787-8s, Qantas holds options on up to 50 Dreamliners – in a mix of the original 787-8s and stretched 787-9 – which become available from 2016.
Domestic Jetstar Boeing 787 flights by November
Although Jetstar's first Boeing 787 will touch down on Aussie soil in late September it will need to receive flight approval from Australia's air safety regulator before carrying paid passengers.
Jetstar's publicity plan also involves rostering the Boeing 787 onto selected domestic routes within Australia before moving onto the start of full international services in December.
Popular routes from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to the Gold Coast and Cairns are on the cards, although Jetstar has yet to make a final call on the 787's launch routes.
The move will provide a “great window of opportunity for thousands of domestic travellers to experience the 787” says Dal Pra, and we can expect to see the 787‘s domestic services extensively marketed to the public.
Inside Jetstar's Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Jetstar’s Boeing 787 fleet will pack 335 travellers from tip to tail, with 21 business class seats and 314 in economy.
The Recaro business class seats will be arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration, with the slimline Pinnacle economy seats ranked in a 3-3-3 layout.
The seat pitch will be comparable to Jetstar’s current A330 fleet – around 38 inches in business class and 31 inches in economy – says Jetstar’s Dal Pra.
Jetstar has also opted to continue using a recliner in business class rather than an angled lie-flat seat.
“When you’re only flying five to ten hours, the amount the customers need to pay for a lie-flat seat, for the space it takes up, just doesn’t work out” Dal Pra told Australian Business Traveller.
Dal Pra says the airline has slightly reduced the number of business class seats to boost the size of the economy cabin, compared to its first plans.
Every seat will be equipped with a touchscreen video panel linked to a central Panasonic eX2 inflight entertainment system providing video on demand along with games and seat-to-seat chat.
Business class passengers will get a 10.6 inch display, with 9 inches in economy, and the system will allow ‘gate to gate’ use rather than having to switch off the screen during take-off and landing.
Every seat will have a USB socket for charging smartphones and tablets, with an AC power supply in each business class seat and shared between every two seats in economy.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.