SHANNON has seen yet another first for an Irish airport with the arrival last night of Boeing’s latest airliner, the 787 Dreamliner, which made a brief stop at the mid-west aerodrome while returning to the US from Britain.
The jet, principally constructed from carbon-fibre and billed as the most fuel-efficient jetliner ever built, is on its first trip outside the US and has yet to enter commercial service. Shannon was the first commercial airport outside the US where the 787 has landed.
Aircraft number 3 in Boeing’s 787 programme stopped in Shannon to refuel on its way back to the Seattle in Washington after visiting the Farnborough International Airshow in England.
Shannon airport director Martin Moroney said: “We are delighted to welcome the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Ireland. Shannon has a proud history, particularly in relation to transatlantic flights, so it is therefore particularly fitting that the Dreamliner’s first Irish visit was to the mid-west. We look forward to seeing this aircraft operating commercially through Shannon.”
Lisa Kearney, flight test engineering operations manager, said: “It is a great thrill for us to be here in Shannon.”
Ms Kearney showed members of the media around the aircraft. On board the plane, seats were only installed in the forward and aft cabins, while in the centre of the aircraft stood dozens of consoles in what is known as the “data acquisition system”, where all aspects of the test flight are monitored. She said: “This is where we do our environmental control testing for this plane and it is where we gather all the data to be analysed to see that the plane is functioning according to plan.”
The aircraft was originally scheduled to enter service in May 2008 however that has been delayed several times. A rescheduled service entry date of the fourth quarter of 2010 was further pushed back last week after Boeing issued a “cautionary note” stating that the first 787 delivery could slip into early 2011.
Three versions of the 787 have been approved and depending on which one the 56 airlines who have ordered the plane select, the plane can carry between 210 and 330 passengers.
Boeing has taken more than 850 global orders in deals worth around €77 billion.
Shannon had a previous link with the 787 programme when in March 2007, a cargo freighter built specifically to carry parts of the aircraft spent some time in Shannon as part of a series of “approving flights” necessary before it received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification.
The Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter, known as the Dreamlifter, can carry three times more cargo than the standard 747-400 freighter variants.
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