December 2nd marked an important event for Air France with the arrival of the very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the fleet! An exciting event indeed, as the French flag carrier had not taken delivery of a new aircraft type since the introduction of the Airbus A380 back in October of 2009.
The year 2016 has marked important changes in the Air France long-haul fleet with the retirement of the mythical Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747, in January 2016, and now the arrival of the new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
The 787 is outfitted with Air France’s latest onboard products, the highly rated “Best & Beyond” cabins, as can also be found on the Boeing 777 fleet.
Flight-Report had the exceptional opportunity to take part in the delivery of Air France’s new Dreamliner. Not only were we able to attend the delivery ceremony in Seattle, but we were also aboard the ferry flight from the Boeing Everett plant to Paris CDG.
1. Paine Field Everett (PAE) → Paris (CDG) | Boeing 787-9 | Business
Much like Airbus in Toulouse, France, Boeing has a dedicated delivery center at its massive Everett plant. Carriers receive all Boeing 777s and the majority of 787s at Everett—some Dreamliners are delivered at the newer Charleston, South Carolina plant. Boeing 737s are delivered at the smaller Boeing Field plant, closer to downtown Seattle, as we saw when we had the opportunity to catch a ride on a Transavia 737 delivery flight.
While several airlines will receive aircraft deliveries on the same day, we are here for the first Air France Dreamliner. This new 787 is actually a lease from the U.S. based aircraft lessor AerCap, whose logo appears alongside Air France’s on the welcome screen. Out of 16 787s on order, 3 will be leased.
And here is our beautiful bird, ready for her maiden voyage home to Paris!
Consistent with the rest of the fleet, Air France has selected General Electric engines for its new Dreamliners, GEnx-1B-70B engines to be precise.
The last bit of blue sky we’ll see on the ground on either side of the Atlantic.
But the gray Seattle skies won’t keep us from admiring this beauty! You may have noticed something different with the 787s livery—indeed, Air France has introduced much larger titles with the Dreamliner fleet.
Shortly after our walk-around, it’s time for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Present for the cutting are Boeing’s head of sales, a representative from AerCap, and Frédéric Gagey, the former CEO of Air France, recently promoted to CFO of the Air France-KLM group.
This first Dreamliner delivery is an especially important moment for the teams at Air France who have been working for the better part of 3 years to prepare for the arrival and integration of the new aircraft type into the fleet.
The ceremony is followed by a celebratory luncheon.
Both hot and cold items are on offer buffet-style.
After this rather hearty meal, those who will be flying aboard the delivery Ferry flight must go through security checks.
Boarding will be through door 1L. As there are only 30 passengers on board this ferry flight, we will only have two flight attendant accompanying us to CDG.
Let’s take a look at the flight deck.
There are 30 seats in Business class, all located between doors 1 and 2.
The Business Class seats are the acclaimed Zodiac Cirrus model, also found on the Boeing 777 fleet. Because the 787 fuselage is narrower than that of a 777, the seats are laid out in a comparatively slightly tighter configuration.
This configuration is identical to the KLM 787 World Business Class.
The loss of width compared to 777s, however, is hardly noticeable as the seat itself is exactly the same—8 cm in width, per seat unit, to accommodate the narrower fuselage of the 787 was mostly taken from the large side tables/console.
Modern IFE remote
Seat control buttons.
The tray table, smaller than on the 777s due to the aforementioned reduced size of the side console.
Storage space, containing the noise-cancelling headphones and a mirror on the door.
One noticeable change compared with the 777 Business seats is the IFE screen—this new version is now tiltable.
Storage for reading materials and the safety card.
Now standard for Business class, a universal power outlet and USB port.
The blanket and pillow for this ferry flight are not the standard Air France fare—here we have a quilt offered by AerCap and a disposable pillow.
AerCap has also provided a little bag of souvenirs to commemorate the event.
We’re ready for departure!
Once the doors are closed, we’ll be all set to go.
Pushing back from the gate.
Engines are starting up.
Boeing employees wave us off as we taxi away.
We take off in typical rainy Seattle weather.
We find clear blue skies above the clouds :)
Blue skies make for better viewing of the Dreamliner’s elegant wings.
Let’s have a look at the other cabins on this aircraft. They will remain empty for the duration of the ferry flight.
Economy class is divided into two cabins with a total of 225 seats.
We find the standard 787 3-3-3 configuration in this cabin. The seat width is 17.5”, which is just a little wider than Economy seats aboard the AF 777 fleet, which have 17.05” wide seats in a 3-4-3 configuration.
It’s odd to see a completely empty cabin mid-flight!
There are 2 universal power outlets for each block of 3 seats.
The seats feature a decent amount of recline with headrests that are adjustable in 4 different positions.
One of the big improvements in Economy class is the larger size of the IFE screens—11 inches compared to 9 inches on the 777.
Although there are small improvements to the standard “Best & Beyond” hard-product to be found in the Business and Economy cabins, the biggest changes can be found in the Premium Economy cabin which introduces a brand new seat. There are 21 Premium Economy seats on the 787—3 rows in a spacious 2-3-2 configuration.
As can be expected, the seat width in the first row is slightly narrower due to the a wider armrest needed to accomodate the PTV screen as well as the tray table.
With this new Premium Economy seat, Air France has kept one of the main features that made its Premium Economy cabin unique when it was first introduced in 2009, the fixed shell. Having seats that recline within a shell preserves personal space; however, there had been some complaints that the recline was insufficient with the first generation of seats.
Having listened to customer feedback, Air France has added recline by enhancing the seat pitch (from 38” to 40”). This not only give Premium Economy passengers more legroom and personal space, but allows the seats to recline 130°, a major improvement over the first generation’s 123° of recline.
Individual LED reading light
The large tray table is very convenient with plenty of space for working and eating.
Remote controls for the In-flight Entertainment can be found in the middle consoles along with universal power outlets.
Adjustable leather headrests
Nice sized screen
Heading to the very back of the plane, we find the spacious rear galley with lots of work space for the cabin crew.
The only bar area on the aircraft located by the Business class cabin is on the small side.
One of the advantages of being on a delivery flight is access to areas one would not normally see during normal commercial operations.
Let’s have a look at the pilot crew rest.
And we end our in-flight aircraft visit with a quick peak into the cockpit. At the moment, we are at FL390, but will climb as high as FL430 during the course of the flight.
Upon returning to the seat, an Air France Business Class amenity kit is distributed. It will be the only true Air France soft-product element of the in-flight service on this special flight.
Pre-dinner drinks are served
Dinner service begins as the sun sets.
Special commemorative menus handed out by the crew. A really nice touch!
There is a choice of two main dishes for dinner and breakfast.
Again, as the catering was loaded by Boeing, this is not the standard Air France product. This is most evident by the fact that the plates, glasses, and utensils are all of the disposable variety.
Appetizer according to the menu: White Fish Terrine & Sliced Proscuitto with Shaved Parmesan
It seems the menu is inaccurate as the “Terrine” is actually smoked salmon.
Salad, Mesclin Mix (2) dressing Choice
Roasted halibut filet with Capers and Olives Mashed potatoes Yellow & Red Baby Tear Drop Tomato Sauce
Overall it was a good dinner, despite the unattractive plastic and aluminum.
Let’s explore the Panasonic IFE, the same model as can be found on the updated 777 fleet.
One of the nice things about this latest generation IFE is the ability to display the moving map on the remote control’s screen.
The 3D rendering on the AF 787 on the airshow looks great.
With the delivery on the Dreamliner, Air France is finally introducing international WiFi. We are told that different packages will be available for purchase based on volume of MB.
The process is a bit long and requires an account to be created.
Once connected, your browser will indicate the amount of time and data left.
The WiFi worked quite well with good speed, but 50mb get used up quickly! A shame not to offer an unlimited package based on time rather than MB usage as few people can predict how much volume in MB they’ll actually need.
Bed time! The seat turns into a fully flat bed, of course.
The bed length is around 2 meters (6’5”), which is quite generous compared to many other Business class seats on the market.
Coming from the West Coast, the routing to Europe takes us well north, crossing Greenland and Iceland, and entering Europe over the Netherlands.
A breakfast is served about an hour before arrival.
We can’t say that this breakfast was particularly good. If it doesn’t look appetizing, it’s because it wasn’t.
The first morning rays of sunshine fill the cabin.
Beautiful show of colors outside the large windows.
A commemorative certificate is distributed at the end of the flight!
We’ll be landing shortly
Gray skies, just like in Seattle.
With all the fog, we did an autoland. Planespotters must have been disappointed with the poor visibility to see the arrival of the first Air France Dreamliner.
As we taxi towards the Air France headquarters, we pass an A320 sporting a Paris 2024 logo.
Despite the early hour and weather conditions, many Air France and airport employees are out to welcome the first Dreamliner to its home base.
Fire trucks standing by for the traditional welcome Water Salute!
There is a large welcome committee assembled once we reach the parking stand.
Some final shots of the beautiful new Air France Dreamliner.
The Air France 787-9 will be operating between Paris and Cairo as of January 9, 2017. Its second route will be Paris-Montreal starting on May 1st, 2017. The aircraft will also be doing 6 weekly short hops on the Paris-London Heathrow route starting February 6th (Flight AF1680 and AF1681, except Wednesdays).
Much like the recent 747 retirement, Air France is organizing 4 special flights to give the public the opportunity to try out the new Dreamliner. The flights will last about 2.5 hours and overfly some of the most beautiful regions of France for some sightseeing along with festivities onboard.
The Air France Boeing 787-9 is configured with 30 seats in Business class, 21 seats in Premium Economy, and 225 Economy class seats.
Trip taken by Flavien for Flight-Report as a guest of Air France and Boeing.
It was a privilege to be on board the delivery flight of the first Air France Dreamliner and be part of the excitement.
The new aircraft looks good from the outside, with its updated livery, and on the inside, with the latest generation of products in all cabins. The biggest evolution is with the new Premium Economy seat, which seems to be a nice improvement over the current Premium Economy seat.
- General comfort of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner: Large windows, mood lighting, feeling of spaciousness, higher humidity levels that reduce fatigue and jetlag. - Larger screens in Economy class and tiltable screens in Business class - Easy to use and responsive Panasonic In-flight Entertainment system with a large choice of movies, TV programmes, music, etc. - International WiFi making its debut with this aircraft
- Small self-service bar area and only two lavatories for 30 passengers in Business class. No dedicated lavatory for the Premium Economy cabin (as is the case on most other AF aircraft). - Smaller tray table and storage space in Business class when compared to the 777 due to space saving because of the narrower fuselage of the 787.
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