Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Amongst all the stories and razzmatazz at Farnborough last week one interesting press release from Boeing that somehow got overlooked by the majority was a statement that the 777-200LR is 90% complete regarding design.
The dash 200 you may ask? Another paper exercise deigned to confuse around the highly successful triple seven. In fact the 777-200LR is a real aircraft with five ordered by EVA and Pakistan International Airlines with the first flight due early next year and deliveries scheduled to begin during the first quarter of 2006. What makes the aircraft really interesting is that it can fly non-stop from Heathrow to Sydney in 19 hours with 300 passengers, their luggage and some revenue earning cargo in the hold. In fact it can also reach Honolulu without landing from London too, opening up the serious possibility of Hawaii as a holiday destination from the UK. Perhaps even more important the aircraft will now make London non-stop from virtually any point on the globe, truly the world”s global financial centre.
It is one thing being able to fly with a large number of passengers for nearly 24-hours. The practicalities are another matter.
Firstly will it work from an operational point of view and secondly is there a market? Taking point one airlines are now flying daily over 16 hours. That concept is proven. The authorities will have a significant say in how many flight deck crew are required and the quality of the rest areas provided. The pilot unions will also make their voice known. Likewise with the cabin staff and those responsible for the catering at the sharp end. A full time cabin cleaner will be needed to ensure that the loos are kept tidy and up to scratch. This of course is an important area on the aircraft. Disposal of both liquids and solids need to be looked at very carefully. We”ve all been on six-hour sectors where the waste bins have been full to over spilling.
When it comes to the passengers the cabin layout and facilities will need a great deal of attention. The airline's clients will require to exercise during such a long flight and an economy 35/37” seat pitch must be the norm. Two-plus-three-plus-two at the back end. We think so. A flight attendant will need to take on the responsibilities of a fitness coach and perhaps offer an airborne version of the well-known cruise ship morning exercise routine. Virgin already flies with a beauty therapist on board and Bmi and Gulf offer a chef. From a medical point of view airlines have come on leaps and bounds during recent years and clearly a senior flight attendant would have advanced training and 24-hour communications with doctors on the ground. The same Internet/satellite system would give those who desire connectivity all the time and web site access. The facility already exists as does advanced in-flight entertainment systems.
The question is will London-Sydney non-stop work commercially? There are big savings to be made by cutting out the extra landing. No airport fees and associated expenses, nor fuel burn getting back to 40,000 ft. No new crew to pick up (nor set down for a two night stopover). More utilisation of the aircraft, and over its 25 year life many less landings and take-offs. There are many other reasons which will have to be balanced against the fact that perhaps three or four aircraft in a fleet will have substantially different interiors than its sisters.
It will take courage from an enterprising airline to make it succeed but ABTN believes that it can. Certainly such an operation would cream off the high yield business traffic and attract leisure passengers whose idea of hell is being woken for a landing at an unasked for airport in the middle of the night and then being told to go walkabout for two hours. What makes it even more interesting is that the 777-200LR could be on the route in 2007, ahead of the A380. Given the choice of a non-stop flight in a specially kitted out long range aircraft against a one-stop machine with 500 others which alternative would you take? Big twin against four engines. Should further airlines order the 777 - 200LR the market place will decide.
”Preach what you believe in”. Our sponsor (officially called partner) OAG has been pushing the virtues of its splendid new WorldMate PDA allowing travellers to access a host of useful flight and travel information on the move. Now it seems the man behind the idea Duncan Alexander, managing director business development, was stuck at Beijing last week with his direct London flight cancelled for technical reasons and a very important family engagement to fulfil (in truth his three sons all have birthdays within a week of each other - which says something - and each year they have one big party). Hoards of people were clustered around the check-in everyone trying to find a quick way home. Out came the PDA. Click, click, click. Up came Finnair via Helsinki. With speed to their desk. ”Yes sir we do have space. Delighted to help. You get priority as a Oneworld customer and Gold Card holder. And we are boarding straight away”. Duncan tells us the flight was pretty good also. He likes his WorldMate.