Air New Zealand expects smooth EIS for 787-9

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With the 10 July departure of Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 787-9 on its delivery flight to Auckland, the airline is anticipating a smooth entry-Into-service (EIS) for the first “stretch” Dreamliner.

The 787 will flight plan with 180min extended operations (ETOPS) certification, according to Capt Dave Morgan, Air New Zealand’s chief pilot. The airline expects to eventually obtain 240min ETOPS for the 787-9, or 90min fewer than allowed by regulations.

Air New Zealand legally accepted the aircraft on 30 June, about three weeks after Boeing completed a nine-month flight test programme to obtain airworthiness certification. One of the airline’s pilots has been working for Boeing, assisting with pilot training for other airlines.

He’s been able to learn about some of the issues that invariably come up with the introduction of a new airplane. After arriving in Auckland, the plane will go into a three-week proving programme, which includes some flying within New Zealand, and a Trans-Tasman non-revenue flight.

The FAA approved certification of the 787-9 with two exemptions, including a waiver involving the aircraft’s emergency ram air turbine (RAT).

Boeing is redesigning a component in the RAT after the unit failed to produce power during flight and ground tests. Morgan confirmed that Air New Zealand has received a similar operating exemption from the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand.

“It is extremely improbable for us to end up in that failure mode, having to deploy the ram air turbine,” says Morgan.

The FAA approved the exemption for the 787-9 until the end of February, requiring Boeing to deliver a compliant ram air turbine.

The 787-9 enters service as Boeing continues to improve the 787-8. The first version of the 787-8 has been in service for more than 2.5 years, but still operates a percentage point below Boeing’s 99.5% standard for dispatch reliability. A series of planned improvements should lift the rating to 99.5% in the second quarter.

Kerry Reeves, the airline’s programme director for Aircraft Programmes, feels that the lessons learned in the smaller -8 Dreamliner’s EIS has benefitted ANZ. “We believe that a lot of the problems on the -8 have been resolved on this aircraft, so we`ll immediately see an initial start point of reliability way above where the -8 was at EIS.”

Air New Zealand has 10 787-9s on order, with options for a further 8. They expect to have 3 aircraft delivered this year.