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Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: Inside the First Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

July 10, 2014 at 12:59 PM | by | ()

New airplane alert!

163 Boeing 787 Dreamliners are flying the skies right now, a number current as of this week. That includes 162 787-8s and 1 lonely 787-9 for Air New Zealand, which only headed from Boeing's headquarters in Everett, WA to its new home of Auckland, New Zealand at dawn this morning.

That 787-9 won't be lonely for long, however; over 25 airlines have placed orders for more than 400 of the sleek and efficient jets. So why are we getting excited for yet another Dreamliner? The answer is shockingly simple: it's awesomer. Sure, the original flavor 787-8 is great and Boeing will continue to roll them out, but the 787-9 is, as Daft Punk would sing, "harder, better, faster, stronger."

What's new for Boeing's 787-9?

Aside from this specific plane being the freshest out of the factory, there are some very definite improvements over the 787-8 while still boasting improved passenger comforts, 30% larger windows, 20% better fuel efficiency, and fewer emissions than similarly sized aircraft.

· It's 20' longer. (206' versus the 787-8's 186' length)
· Depending on configuration, between 40-80 more passengers can travel on the 787-9.
· More space means more area for fuel; the 787-9 can take over 3,000 more gallons of fuel and, with it, fly further for use on longer routes.
· A higher maximum takeoff weight allows for more cargo.
· Whereas the 787-8 is designed to replace 767-200s and 767-300s, the 787-9 has the numbers to replace A330s and 767-400s.

What's new on Air New Zealand's 787-9?

While new 787-9s leaving Boeing's factory will cut the same silhouette in the skies, their interiors are open for discussion. Air New Zealand has chosen a 3-class layout for theirs, consisting of Business Premier Class, a revamped Premium Economy, and Economy Class (the latter with a few "Skycouch" rows).

· Business Premier: chalk-color leather lie-flat seats. They are 22" wide at seat, 33" wide at shoulder, a 79" bed length. The tray table is adjustable to allow for dual dining, as in having someone over to your seat to share a meal (they sit on your footrest). In-flight entertainment is the Panasonic eX3 system via a personal 11" monitor and premium headphones, a USB charge port, and one power outlet per seat.
· Premium Economy: ink-color leather recliner seats with a 9" recline and 41" of legroom with extendable legrest. They're 19.3" wide at the hip, and some elbow room is given thanks to a wider, 5" armrest between seats. In-flight entertainment is the Panasonic eX3 system via a personal 11" monitor and headphones, a USB charge port, and one power outlet per seat.
· Economy: Slimline upholstered seats with 5" recline with 31-33" of legroom. They're 17.2" wide at the hip and have headrests with improved flexibility. The selected Skycouch rows form a bed space of 5' 1" long. [What is 'Skycouch?'] In-flight entertainment is the Panasonic eX3 system via a personal 9" touchscreen monitor and headphones, a USB charge port, and a power outlet at every other seat.
· Lavatories also see an upgrade, as Dreamliners feature motion-activated auto-flush toilets and covers. Air NZ even peps it up with snazzy wallpapers. she's all dressed in black and ready to give you the ride of your life." This is a special paint job to honor New Zealand's All Blacks rugby team. Air New Zealand has a small variety of their other aircraft sporting the same look, but they figured since this is their first 787-9, that it too should share in the limited livery love. Future Air NZ 787-9s to be delivered will take the skies with a white fuselage and black tail with the signature Koru Maori symbol but absent the All Blacks fern.

How to see Air New Zealand's 787-9 for yourself?

· Attend the massive Farnborough Air Show in the UK, where the fifth AirNZ 787-9 will be on display from July 14-18 only.
· Book on the inaugural route of Auckland to Perth, commencing October 15, 2014
· Book future routes, looking for the B789 as the aircraft. Future AirNZ 787-9 service in 2014 includes Auckland - Tokyo, Auckland - Shanghai, and Christchurch - Tokyo. Expect further destination announcements for 2015, as AirNZ is due to receive 10 787-9s in total.

For the latest details and flight specials on Air New Zealand's 787-9, check out its official website.

We attended the 787-9 first delivery ceremonies as a guest of Air New Zealand and Boeing, but all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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