February 21, 1989 was an important day for Singapore Airlines. On that day, their regional affiliate Tradewinds Airlines took off using MD-87s for previously unserved Southeast Asian destinations like Bandar Seri Begawan.
Tradewinds continued until 1992 when it was renamed SilkAir. If you have not noticed, it is almost February 21, 2014. In other words, we are quickly approaching the twenty-fifth anniversary of SilkAir. On top of that, this is also the Chinese Lunar New Year period. There is a lot to celebrate at SilkAir. Most of all, the delivery of their first Boeing 737-8SA.
SilkAir is celebrating a lot of firsts with delivery of 9V-MGA (internally referred to as “my great aircraft”). Their first 737 NextGen, their largest aircraft order (54 frames), and their fastest year-on-year fleet growth (they are accepting eight frames this year).
There was a lot of excitement to be had. Having never been to a delivery ceremony of this caliber before, I did find it quite contagious. It’s always awesome to see a Lion Dance, but to see the lions dancing around a brand-new 737 – that is going all out.
After the dance, it was time for the formalities.
Documents were signed and countersigned.
Ceremonial ribbons were cut, and that was that; SilkAir was the proud owner of their first brand-new 737-8SA. That is amazing all in its own right, no question.
But we would not be reporters if we could not get a look around their new toy.
Hopping aboard shortly after the senior executives had taken their first looks, we were welcomed by the pale blue glow of a Boeing Sky Interior.
B/E Aerospace is the manufacturer of the passenger seats in this aircraft. Economy passengers have a tight 30″ of pitch. What may alarm some of our readers is what appears to be an apparent lack of AVOD in-flight entertainment. To them, I say, never fear. Not only does each row of economy have sufficient power outlets for everyone seated, there is also an option being tested about the current SilkAir fleet.
Wireless (free) AVOD IFE to be streamed to the passenger’s own devices. If that’s not enough, there will also be overhead loop video and audio loops with an outlet in every armrest. All of these systems were produced by Panasonic.
As of right now, there are no concrete plans to equip the aircraft with Internet connectivity, but things can change quickly.
The Economy seats themselves are very well padded, much more so than the so-called “slimline” products out there.
The tangerine hues are part of SilkAir’s strategy to use a warmer color palette to create a welcoming atmosphere. While there is nowhere near as intense a color story with Singapore Airlines, here and there you can see some homages to their parent company’s cabins.
Up in Business class, there is a definite carryover of the warm and welcoming theme.
I would be very happy to sit in one of these for up to five hours.
SilkAir plans for the aircraft to be on the ground in Singapore by 11:45am, February 12. They will fly the aircraft from Boeing Field to Honolulu, on to Majuro, Guam, and then finally Singapore. This route will take approximately 21 hours of flying time to complete as well as two overnight stops.
The first commercial flight of this aircraft will be to somewhere close to Singapore, such as Phuket. This is because the Singaporean air safety regulator requires a strict segment-based training approach before pilots can be certified on new aircraft. Eventually, this aircraft can be expected to go further afield.
SilkAir is exploring at least two other destinations for launch this year. We do not yet know where they are, but when one remembers that SilkAir’s core countries are India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, there may be a hint in there.