Virgin Blue gears up for first Sky Interior 737

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Boeing’s Sky Interior as seen as a Norwegian 737. Photo: Boeing

Virgin soon-not-Blue’s first Boeing 737 with the Sky Interior is expected to arrive in Brisbane Tuesday morning, according to sources familiar with the matter. Virgin Blue took delivery of the aircraft, registered VH-YFC, last Friday. YFC bears an all white paint scheme and features an all-economy 180 seat cabin.

Update Monday morning: A Virgin Blue spokesman says, “We are unable to confirm details of the delivery schedule and when the aircraft will go into operation at this time.”

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The weight-neurtral Sky Interior (being installed, right) features 777/787-style pivot overhead bins and LED lighting amongst other additions, including a 2% fuel burn improvement. Announced last year, it is the most change to the 737NG’s cabin since the type was introduced in 1998. Flydubai was the first carrier to feature the Sky Interior.

Virgin Blue will become the first 737 Sky Interior operator in Australia, beating Qantas who announced in February it had signed up as a Sky Interior customer; Virgin Blue announced one year and two days ago it would be a Sky Interior customer. At the time, the carrier anticipated the first aircraft would feature a new IFE system as well as a cabin to suit the carrier’s “Airline of the Future” concept, a moniker dropped after John Borghetti assumed the reigns from founder Brett Godfrey.

The carrier’s recent 737 deliveries sport large plastic coverings in the seatback where an IFE screen should be. Panasonic, the supplier of the Red IFE system used by V Australia and Virgin America, was the preferred choice for Virgin Blue’s new IFE system but it is understood negotiations broke down a few times between the two companies over licensing and cost issues.

The Sky Interior, modelled after the 787′s interior, is part of a package of enhancements for the 737 family, which also include a 2% fuel burn improvement culled from aerodynamic refinements and the updated CFM56-7BE engine, which was jointly certified by FAA and EASA last August.

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