It’s no secret that Air Canada (AC) is excited to have the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in their fleet. I was excited that I got to participate in Air Canada’s welcoming event for their first 787 at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ).
Air Canada made an entire website focused solely on their new 787, where they show you the ins-and-outs of the 787 in general, in addition to their own touches they’ve made on the interior.
If you are a fan, you have probably seen the many photos and videos they’ve posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram showing the progress of their first bird, from the beginning, to flight testing, and ultimately delivery.
From the two-day arrival and media events surrounding the plane, you can tell they’re proud of their new aircraft. From an operational standpoint, I can tell you AC has very high expectations for this plane.
First off, here’s a rundown of quick facts you should know about Air Canada and their 787s:
- 37 on order, split by 15 787-8s and 22 787-9s
- GEnx’s as engine choice
- Most based out of Toronto YYZ (as it is their international hub)
- Intended to replace older Boeing 767 and Airbus A330 planes in the fleet
- Costs for fuel and maintenance anticipated to be 20% lower than the older widebodies mentioned above
- 251 seats total on board, in a three-class configuration split by 210 economy seats, 21 Premium Economy seats, and 20 business class seats (called Executive class at AC)
- With this aircraft, AC will be able to open up new route opportunities on the transpacific, transatlantic, Latin American, and even the Oceania markets. (Vancouver – Melbourne will happen, for example, the question is just when)
- By 2019, Air Canada will have their full compliment of 787s.
I initially didn’t think I’d get airside access for the occasion, as I was told there was very limited space. Around noon that day, I got a call from a good friend who was going on the media bus and told me one guy was missing, thus opening up room for one more person to join. I got up to YYZ from downtown Toronto quite fast.
Once I made my way to the bus, I saw many familiar faces. We made our way slowly airside from the south end of the airport, driving through Terminal 1 and 3, and making it to the north end of YYZ at the Air Canada hangars. For about an hour, we all did some traditional spotting, in some very windy and threatening weather, waiting patiently for C-GHPQ to arrive.
The Air Canada 787 Dreamliner finally arrived home on Sunday May 18, touching down at 1510 local on runway 15L as AC7008 from Paine Field, where the plane was built.
It taxied slowly, after landing, for everyone to get a good look, and into the apron for the water cannon salute. The 787 held in position for about 120 seconds, allowing the people around it to have a chance for photos and videos, and then taxied towards the hangar for the scheduled employee/family open house event.
During my time on the media bus, I got a chance to speak with the chief pilot of AC for a few minutes, Captain Murray Strom. He said AC and Boeing are both confident the 787’s issues and former troubles are a thing of the past. Boeing is supporting AC for the launch, and 90 days or so after, by having a team (from Boeing) in Toronto monitoring the aircraft from a special room in the main hangar.
The 787 will have a 120-minute ETOPS certificate from Transport Canada for 40 days, and then up to 180 minutes ETOPS after that, to allow the planes to fly across the Pacific. When asked about the next deliveries of the aircraft, Captain Strom says the second and third 787 will be delivered in mid-June and mid-July respectively, with three more deliveries in October, November, and December 2014.
After delivery, C-GHPQ had a quite busy timeline. May 19th-22nd were used to for training the flight crew. The aircraft took off from Toronto (YYZ), flew to Ottawa (YOW) to do a good number of touch and go’s, then to Montreal Mirabel (YMX) for more touch and go’s, then back to YYZ. Repeating everyday.
May 23rd was the first revenue flight for the AC 787, doing YYZ – Halifax YHZ, most likely also for the flight crew’s check rides. The YYZ-YHZ flights continued for May 24th and 25th. In the evening of May 25th, the aircraft flew out of YYZ for its first international revenue flight, out to Zurich, where it will fly exclusively for a while until is it time for the London route to commence on July 2nd.
Back to the media event I was invited to attend, on May 20th, I’m glad I went early in the morning; not as many people as I thought – although later in the morning the number of attendees would triple.
First, I took a peek into the cockpit, but unfortunately wasn’t able to spend much time, since there were others who wanted a glimpse as well.
Next up I took a look at the Executive Class (J) cabin, which was in a 1-2-1 format.
There were 20 pods that could be turned into flat beds, with a width of 21 inches. The product offers great space for your feet, your own coat hangar, and extra blankets, along with the noticeable added touch of privacy.
After checking out the premium product, I made my way to the mid section of the aircraft, where I saw the new Air Canada Premium Economy (Y+) seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. There were 21 seats in total, and they had 19.5″ width and a seat pitch of 38″.
The last section was economy, located at the back of the plane. AC’s economy seats a total of 210 on the 787, in a 3-3-3 configuration, with a width of 17.3″ and a pitch of 31″.
Of course, the highlights of the 787 are the mood lighting, the larger windows, and the large overhead bins. Being 6′ 6″, I’d have trouble sitting those seats for an “across the pond” type flight, and would look for a seat with additional legroom.
After making my way off the plane, I went to check out the GEnx and GE90 engines AC put on display.
To end off my visit of the new Air Canada 787, I grabbed a can of Coke out of the coolers over at the food bar, and made my way out of the facility with a smile. But first, a few more photos of the 787 in the hangar facility.
What could be better than a 787, engines, and food? Oh right, possibly a flight. The first routes for AC’s 787s included Zurich (ZRH), Tel Aviv (TLV), London (LHR,) and a brand new route to Tokyo Haneda (HND).
I really wish success to this young workhorse and I hope it shall inspire future generations of AvGeeks – especially in Canada.