United Airlines has announced details regarding its induction of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner into its fleet and has revealed a specially designed livery for the new aircraft type.
Chicago-headquartered United Airlines is scheduled to take delivery of its first Dreamliner in late September and reveals it plans to put five 787s into service in 2012. The passenger cabin is now being installed on the first aircraft.
United’s Boeing 787-8 jets will be configured with 36 seats in United BusinessFirst, 72 seats in United Economy Plus and 111 seats in United Economy. Cabin color selections use a palette of blue and grey and are consistent with other modern United aircraft, according to the airline.
According to United, customers will experience greater comfort than on other aircraft as a result of improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation systems, among other passenger-friendly features.
The 787’s in-flight entertainment system features a new design which offers more intuitive browsing and more filtering options, giving customers the option of searching for programs by language.
United’s 787s will feature a customized livery that will be exclusive to the fleet: the gold line that wraps the fuselage will swoop from nose to tail.
The swoop is inspired by the trademark curve Boeing uses on its house liveries for all its new-aircraft types and United says it is adopting the Boeing-inspired livery styling for its 787 in a tribute to the two companies’ long history of working together.
According to United, it has been the launch customer for more than a dozen Boeing aircraft models, and was the first airline to operate the Boeing 767 and Boeing 777. United rather tenuously claims this tradition continues with it being the North America launch customer of the 787.
However, airline observers only have to remember back a few years to recall it was then-independent Continental Airlines which actually ordered the aircraft that United is receiving; and that Northwest Airlines, which later was merged into Delta Air Lines, actually was the first U.S. airline to order Boeing 787s.
According to Boeing’s Orders & Deliveries web page, Northwest ordered 18 Boeing 787-8s on May 6, 2005, while Continental ordered its first five 787-8s on June 30, 2005.
United’s claim is accurate in that it will be the first North American carrier to take delivery of a Boeing 787, but several other airlines – notably Japan’s All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines – already have numbers of the type in service.
In preparation for delivery of the first United Dreamliner, United installed a full-flight simulator at its Houston hub and is training pilots to fly the aircraft.
Flight attendants and mechanics have trained in 787 systems and operations, with additional training scheduled to continue through the remainder of the year.
In addition, United is preparing to provide 787 maintenance support from its Houston base, and the airline is warehousing more than 1,180 different spare parts for easy and rapid access by its technicians.
United says the Boeing 787, which is primarily built with composite materials, has 30 per cent more range and uses approximately 20 per cent less fuel than similarly sized aircraft, while reducing emissions and noise during take-offs and landings.
Because of these capabilities, the 787 will open up new non-stop destinations that customers would not be able to reach otherwise on United, such as the carrier’s recently announced Denver-Tokyo service which starts next spring.
Following delivery of its first 787 in September, United will conduct a variety of tests and training, including completing FAA conformity checks and proving flights. The carrier will then put the 787 into scheduled service in the fall.
United is planning to place five Boeing 787s into service in 2012 and has firm orders for a total of 50 Dreamliners, with deliveries scheduled through 2019.
Together with its regional-airline partners in the United Express network, United Airlines operate an average of 5,605 flights a day to 375 airports on six continents from hubs at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Tokyo Narita and Washington Dulles.
In 2011, United carried more traffic than any other airline in the world and operated more than two million flights, carrying 142 million passengers in the process.
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