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Delivering Qatar Airway’s First Boeing 787 Dreamliner – PART 3

The wing is astounding on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo: Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

The wing is astounding on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo: Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

This is the final installment of a multi-part (PART 1 & PART 2) series was written by AirlineReporter.com correspondent Mal Muir on the Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner delivery flight (note: Qatar Airways covered Malcolm’s trip to Doha to cover this story).

With the flight now well and truly underway, most of the passengers on board were sleeping, but I remained not able to sleep. This is not because of the 787 Dreamliner; I have a history of not being able to sleep on aircraft. This meant that I had plenty of time to explore the plane, get in some work, have a chance to relax, and still fit in a few movies.

Having the on board Wi-Fi meant that I was able handle all of those emails I had been avoiding. For those on a business trip, Wi-Fi allows you to stay connected to the office and remain productive (maybe that is not always a good thing).  It also works out if you are a Twitter fanatic, so  you do not feel disconnected from the Twitterverse.

What is better than being on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner? Being able to tell all your friends via the internet while flying at 30,000 feet. Photo: Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

What is better than being on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner? Being able to tell all your friends via the internet while flying at 30,000 feet. Photo: Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

The extra-large windows were a godsend for those in the back during the flight. As we passed over Iceland they managed to get 2.5 hours of uninterrupted viewing of the Northern Lights.  Unfortunately those of us up the front totally missed out since our windows were blacked out — I guess there are some benefits to flying economy.

When there was no outside light-show,  I was able to check out the economy section during flight and tested out the Recaro seats.  The Seats in the Economy Cabin were comfortable enough and would be fine for the medium length flights this Aircraft was fitted out for.  With a leather cover on the neck rest, they felt luxurious while not being to hard or uncomfortable, as some leather cushions can be.  I was also able to see the Social Media Command center set up as Qatar Airways was live tweeting their way across the globe.

The business cabin is prepared to start our way into Doha after a long journey. Photo: Mal Muri / AirlineReporter.com.

The business cabin is prepared to start our way into Doha after a long journey. Photo: Mal Muri / AirlineReporter.com.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any face time with the CEO, Akbar Al Baker, who was on board our flight. He was able to take advantage of the comfy seats and slept most of his way to Doha. I have it say it was surreal seeing  the CEO of the airline in the Business Class PJ’s.

As we crossed over Eastern Europe, heading towards Turkey and the Middle East, passengers started to wake up and the cabin crew started serving breakfast with freshly made espresso (not that I hadn’t stopped eating — I had a midnight snack as well).

Flying over Doha -- about to land. Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Flying over Doha — about to land. Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

As we approached Doha, we prepared for our arrival. The flight was long, but many of us did not want the flight to end. Even though I got no sleep on the 14 hour flight, I felt oddly ready to go. It could have been the adrenaline and excitement, but could also have to do with the Dreamliner itself. The 787 has a new climate control system on board where the cabin is pressurized and humidified at a lower altitude, which allows you to feel more refreshed. I wasn’t fully able to appreciate the difference until my Boeing 777 flight home a few days later (I will be sharing a 787 vs 777 story later).

We started our descent into Doha and as the airport came into view, it was truly a sight to behold.  The blue waters of the Gulf, the yellow of the desert and just the small buildings and everything dotting the landscape.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before — and I have seen quite a bit.

Welcome to Doha. Image: Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Welcome to Doha. Image: Malcolm Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

After we touched down at Doha International Airport we taxied towards the ministerial lounge (currently used for heads of state when they depart and the Amir of Qatar). The taxi ways and other areas of the airport were just full of Qatar Airways and other airport staff, all wanting to welcome the Dreamliner.

Even though we did not get a traditional water cannon salute on arrival, this was still a big deal with over 2 busloads of media waiting for us on arrival with big TV screens to show the aircraft landing.  As we disembarked and headed into the lounge area another press conference was underway by the CEO of the airline and the local representative for Boeing.

It was a long, yet fun journey to get to Doha. Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

It was a long, yet fun journey to get to Doha. Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Once the press conference was over, the local media were given access to the aircraft while those of us on the flight, were bussed over to the arrivals terminal so that we could clear immigration, customs and get over to our hotel for the evening to get some sleep (at least for those of us who can not sleep well on planes).

The 787 flight was a once in a lifetime experience. It showcased that you can merge cutting edge technologies both in the on board experience and in the hardware of the aircraft itself to bring a truly magnificent piece of aircraft into the sky. I had a few days to explore Doha before my flight home and I look forward to share the rest of my adventures with Qatar Airways in the upcoming weeks.

ALL THE QATAR AIRWAYS BOEING 787 DELIVERY PHOTOS:

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Delivering Qatar Airway’s First Boeing 787 Dreamliner – PART 2

It was not surprising that it was raining in Seattle as Qatar's first 787 left Boeing Field. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

It was not surprising that it was raining in Seattle as Qatar’s first 787 left Boeing Field. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

This multi-part (PART 1) series was written by AirlineReporter.com correspondent Mal Muir (note: Qatar Airways covered Malcolm’s trip to Doha to cover this story).

It’s grey outside, rain clouds threaten and there is a chill in the air (substantial for this Aussie implant to the USA) to warrant a scarf.  I don my properly-themed Boeing scarf and head out into the morning air of this Seattle fall day.  The weather cannot dampen my mood, nothing (apart from an inherent lack of coffee) can do that right now. I am about to hitch a ride on a 787 Dreamliner.

Tuesday the 13th of November 2012 is the day that Qatar Airways made their first 787 delivery flight.  As we departed downtown for Boeing Field (BFI) we were all excited and restless. Our departure was delayed and this was making some people antsy, but our arrival time to Doha, Qatar had not changed.

Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class seat. Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class seat. Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

The flight ,QR3787, was to happen on-board A7-BCB, the first Qatar Airways 787. We were set to fly the approximately 7500 miles direct to Doha with only about 90 people on-board, including a mixture of Qatar Airways staff, Boeing staff, contractors (such as Thales, Recaro, OnAir and BE Aerospace) and invited guests & media (the category I fell under).

I was lucky enough to be assigned a Business Class seat (4K), but with only 22 premium seats up front, the remainder of the passengers had to sit in economy. Do not feel too bad for them, each got a full row to themselves and received Business Class level of service.

Although most non-737 delivery flights happen at Paine Field (in Everett), our flight was departing from Boeing Field, just south of downtown Seattle.  I assume this was done since LOT Polish Airlines was taking delivery of their first Dreamliner at Paine on the same day.

A souvenier Qatar Airways Boeing 787 key for invited guests. Image: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

A souvenir Qatar Airways Boeing 787 key for invited guests. Image: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Before boarding, there was no big TSA-style security; although laptops and liquids could stay in, my belt and shoes could not. It was a quick and visually appealing drive along the Boeing Field ramp past rows of 737s before arriving at the 787.  As we approached the aircraft, the excitement got the better of me and I was stunned that I was about to set foot on-board my first 787 flight (although I had previously been on United’s 787). If my excitement wasn’t high enough already,  I was handed a souvenir key by Boeing staff at the bottom of the stairs, marking the delivery.

On-board was a mix of people taking photos, mingling with the staff and the crew and just starting to relax into what would be a fantastic journey.  I had a quick chat with the Captain in charge of the flight, and learned that the day would also mark the line check of the first Qatar Airways 787 pilot. Qatar and Boeing pilots would take turns at the controls of the plane and I was interested in knowing where the crew was planning to rest between shifts.

Even in a 9-abreast configuration, economy did not look too shaby. Although, I was happy I had a business class seat. Image: Mal Muri / AirlineReporter.com.

Even in a 9-abreast configuration, economy did not look too shabby. Although, I was happy I had a business class seat. Image: Mal Muri / AirlineReporter.com.

Qatar designed this variant of their 787s with mid haul flights in mind (flights of 5-7 hours) so there is no crew rest facilities on-board, which have been seen on other Dreamliners.  We were looking at a 12-14 hour flight ahead of us (ultra long haul), so how would they rest?  The Qatar Captain revealed that a portion of the Economy Cabin was set aside for the cabin crew and 2 business class seats had been set aside for the flight crew.

Soon enough, the door was closed, an announcement was made and we all had to take our seats. As we were about to push back from our parking bay, a United 787 pulled in right next to us as almost to wish us well on our journey.

We taxied to the end of 13R, the two GENx engines spooled up and we were on our way. The engines did not seem to have the force of the GE90, but they were much quieter and were able to easily get us off the ground.  Being airborne in the 787 for the first time was surreal. Seeing just how far that composite wing flexes once airborne was a little bit crazy, at one point it seemed it was higher than the aircraft itself. A true work of engineering art.

We climbed out towards the south before turning to track north and on our polar route towards the middle east. Soon the seat belt sign came off and we were free to roam the cabin.

YAY! The first 787 Dreamliner delivered with Wi-Fi ready to go. Image: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

YAY! The first 787 Dreamliner delivered with Wi-Fi ready to go. Image: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Qatar selected OnAir to provide on-board Wifi and GSM services on their new 787s.  Although a little slow to start (as I’m sure it was due to everyone hammering it at the same time to connect and be the first to say “I’m on-board”) the service was pretty consistent. One down fall is you couldn’t have more than one device connected to a single account at any time. This was probably more of an issue during a media event than it would be for a normally scheduled flight.

Without even realizing it, we were almost 90 minutes into the flight before the lunch service began, but to be honest, I had not even noticed.  This seemed to be the whole feeling on the flight; time moved quickly.

A successful airline is much more than just a seat and food. It is about the people. Image: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

A successful airline is much more than just a seat and food. It is about the people. Image: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

The CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, previously stated that, “Business Class is the new First Class.” This was definitely true with amenities provided from Salvatore Ferragamo including slippers, an amenity kit (in a stylish pouch) and even pajamas.  This 5 star service (Qatar Airways continues to win many different awards) continued with the menu for lunch being a 5 course, individually plated affair of a mixture of traditional Arabic meals with a mixture of Western and Indian options.

The meal time was also the first chance I got to fully play with the new state of the art Thales IFE system.  Touted as cutting edge, this system had what was described as two screens at each seat.  The main screen in Business Class is a large 15” LCD with the second screen being the remote itself. The system is android based so the remote is a touch panel and allows you to be able to navigate menus and edit playlists, all without interrupting the current selection that you have playing on the main screen.

It even had the ability to display a full moving map display on the remote while the main screen was playing a movie. That’s how I knew we were currently somewhere over Canada as I was watching The Dark Knight Rises while enjoying the 5 course meal… that’s the way to fly right?

Two screens are better than one right? IFE in economy. Image: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Two screens are better than one right? IFE in economy. Image: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

After the filling meal, most people started changing their seat into sleep mode and the crew blacked out all the cabin windows.  The cabin became very quiet now as it seemed to be a little bit more quieter compared to a 777 or 747, though not upper-deck on an A380 quiet. I was hoping to catch some sleep, but with all the distractions and excitement, I knew that might have been difficult.

Continue reading with PART 3 of this story…

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Delivering Qatar Airway’s First Boeing 787 Dreamliner – PART 1

Qatar's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at BFI. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Qatar’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at BFI. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

This multi-part series was written by AirlineReporter.com correspondent Mal Muir (note: Qatar Airways paid for Mal’s trip to Doha).

On Monday the 12th of November 2012, Qatar Airways took delivery of their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at a special ceremony at Boeing Field (BFI) in Seattle.  Held in the 3-390 Hangar at Boeing Field the event was an extravagant ceremony for an airline that has one of the youngest and most technically advanced fleets in the world.

The event began with a mystery arrival into the hangar where an Arabian style oasis could be found as guests mingled and waited for the main event.  A press conference was held at the ceremony by not only Boeing and Qatar Airways but also the Ambassador to Qatar.

The decorations in Seattle for the delivery ceremony.

The decorations in Seattle for the delivery ceremony. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

Mr. Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, heralded this momentous event while being bombarded by questions from the global media including Flightglobal, Aviation Week, USA Today, Al Jazeera, and also the local news media as well such as King 5 News Seattle (and of course a select few web bloggers).  With financial delivery having being made a week or so earlier (as evidenced by flight QR999 from Everett to Victorville to continue its fit out) rather than the usual signing of paperwork a short gift swapping ceremony was completed to signify the handover of the aircraft.

With the press conference completed a short Promotion Video put together by Qatar Airways to show off their 787 was shown before the big moment. A white sheet was lowered and there standing proud behind it was A7-BCB, the first Qatar Airways 787.  After a quick ribbon cutting ceremony by the dignitaries, we were invited on-board and it was like a being a kid in a candy store.

The economy class of Qatar's Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The economy class of Qatar’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Everyone swarmed the aircraft, trying out the seats, seeing the larger windows evident on all 787 aircraft and anticipating the first flight the next day.  The 787 configured for a longer haul routes was a sight to behold.  Cutting edge In-Flight Entertainment (IFE), new tailor made and designed seats by Recaro and the latest in Wi-Fi connectivity by OnAir, the shiny new airplane just screamed out to everyone.

With thousands of photos taken of both the interior, exterior, candid shots, poses by media, special guests, staff who built the aircraft, we were all back on the buses for the delivery dinner.  Heading away from Boeing Field (soon to return though) and heading for Seattle Center and Chihuly Gardens.

The delivery dinner was held at the Chihuly Garden and Glass in the shadow of the Space Needle. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

The delivery dinner was held at the Chihuly Garden and Glass in the shadow of the Space Needle. Photo by Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com.

The dinner was a relaxed, fine evening with a menu that was focused on local, seasonal produce, plenty of fine wine and drinks and some relaxing and mingling by the guests.  This was the culmination of so much hard work and effort by so many people who worked tirelessly to get to this day that they were all in the mood to celebrate and honor as well some of those who made huge efforts into getting this aircraft to this point.

The night drew to a close with many tired heads as we were bussed back to respective hotels. The journey was only just beginning for me, but for some, tomorrow would show the end of a journey that had begun five years earlier when Qatar Airways signed the contract for their first of 60 787s.

Stay tuned for the rest of Malcolm’s adventure as he flies in Business Class on Qatar Airway’s first 787 Dreamliner to Doha.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos