MEET Great Southern Land, the latest addition to the Qantas family, and the first to ensure everyone gets a window seat.
Unveiled today at Boeing headquarters in Seattle, the Dreamliner 787 has a number of unique features designed to maximise the joy of flying and minimise the discomfort associated with long haul travel.
The aircraft is fitted with next generation seating in economy, premium economy and business class, with more space and a lower passenger count than most of its competitors.
Other Dreamliner features include larger windows to create a greater sense of space, better air quality to help reduce jetlag and ride dampening technology to minimise the effects of turbulence. It is also quieter, more fuel efficient and generates fewer greenhouse emissions than similarly-sized aircraft.
At a ceremony at the Boeing factory in Seattle, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the first Dreamliner signaled the start of an exciting new era for the national carrier and for the travelling public.
"Taking delivery of a new type of aircraft is always an important milestone for an airline and the 787 is a game-changer. From the distance it's able to fly, to the attention to detail we've put into the cabin design, it will reshape what people come to expect from international travel.
Tech decks for electronics devices, foot rests, larger entertainment screens and more storage are standout features of consulting designer David Caon's new cabin design.
The windows are 65 per cent bigger than comparable aircraft with the opaque plastic shades replaced with five polarised settings to let in variable levels of light. The windows are also placed higher on the walls so passengers in every seating position can see outside.
"The Dreamliner makes routes like Perth to London possible, which will be the first direct air link Australia has ever had with Europe. And it means other potential routes are now on the drawing board as well," says Joyce.
"There are lots of elements that combine to make the Qantas Dreamliner special. The seats, the lighting, the entertainment, personal storage, right through to the special crockery, cutlery and glassware that weighs on average 11 per cent less.
To coincide with what will be the longest flight on the Qantas route, a wellness initiative with the Charles Perkins Centre at Sydney University will see a new approach to mealtimes, hydration and setting passenger's body clocks to new time zones, to reduce the effects of jetlag and other negative reactions to long flight times.
"The end goal is getting people in really great shape when they land. To get them into the right time zone," said Neil Perry, Creative Director, Food, Service and Beverage.
Two Dreamliner routes have been announced so far - Melbourne to Los Angles starting in December this year and Perth to London starting in March next year. Additional flights from Brisbane have also been flagged.
The Dreamliner will be the first aircraft in the fleet with the capability to fly from Australia to Europe. The approximately 17-hour Perth to London route is being dubbed "The Smiley Route" by Qantas in which the same plane connects Los Angeles, Sydney, Perth, and London.
The 236-passenger capacity of the plane includes 42 business, 28 premium economy, and 166 in economy.
Great Southern Land is the first of eight 787s to be added to the national carrier's fleet between now and late 2018 and sees the phasing out of five older Boeing 747-400s. The name was the result of a public vote, with the other Dreamliners to be called Great Barrier Reef, Boomerang, Skippy, Waltzing Matilda, Uluru, Quokka, and Dreamtime.
As part of the aircraft unveiling in Seattle, Australian band, Icehouse, performed its anthemic 1982 song Great Southern Land, the inspiration for which came to singer and songwriter, Iva Davies, as his Qantas flight crossed the country's red centre.
The rollout of the Dreamliners saw the opportunity for Qantas to announce Project Sunrise, Qantas's challenge to Boeing and Airbus to build commercially viable passenger plane to fly direct from Sydney to London or New York by the early 2020s.
The Dreamliner, registered as VH-ZNA, is scheduled to land in Sydney on the morning of 20 October after it performs a flyover of Sydney Harbour, weather and air traffic control permitting.
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