Two month ago, I had the chance to fly with Boeing´s newest aircraft, the 787, the so called "Dreamliner". Just delivered last September with a three year delay.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner in All Nippon Airways design
I booked a flight from Bangkok to Frankfurt and Air India is operating between Delhi and Frankfurt with Boeing´s new flagship. At least until mid-January.
What happened? On January, 16. an ANA flight (All Nippon Airways, Japan) made an emergency landing after the system showed a problem with unleak batteries in the cockpit. Some medias reported of a smoke in the cabine too.
Safety manual of a Air India Boeing 787-8
Because of this incident in Japan, ANA and Japan Airlines grounded all 787 and took them out of the flight schedules.
787 in Delhi
These and other incidents with fire on landing 787´s in Boston was the trigger for the FAA to ground Boeing´s flagship in the US.
After Boeing lost their start license in their own country, other countries like Chile, Europe and India followed the FAA and grounded the left 787 too.
All 50 delivered planes are grounded and the problem is still unsolved.
Back to my first flight from Asia to Europe during day time. This was my second flight with Air India. My first one was from Bangkok to Delhi the same day.
Is Boeing´s dreamliner a dream or a nightmare? I´ll tell you my impressions about this flight:
It is not that impressive as other airplanes like the 747 (Jumbo) or the A-380 from the competitor Airbus. But there is one thing which is totally different to other aircrafts. The shape of the aero dynamic wings is new. Of course, every new model has special designed ones, but this ones are very slim and the wingtips reaching far to the back.
New aero dynamic wings
Smog above New Delhi
This means, if you like to take pictures out of the window, you have either the wing on the picture, or you need to take the picture in an angle to the back. The good thing at the windows is, they are much bigger than regular (48x28cm).
There exits an amazing website about train travelling worldwide, it´s called "The man in seat 61". May be you read about it? Whenever he is travelling by train, he is booking seat 61.In opposite to him, I am the guy in row 31. I prefer to sit in the last row of a plane. Not only because of the safety. But it is the safest place in the plane. I like to have a good view out of the window, without any wing in the pictures I take.
In case you want to sit in the last row of a dreamliner and you´re looking forward to take pictures from this row, I have to disappoint you.The 787 is different.
Thin armrest and plenty of space around this last row with only 2 seats.
The last row in Air India´s 787 offering only two seats and the seats are aligned at the aisle. That means there is a big gap between the seat and the window!
Economy class with 3-3-3 seats at each row except the last one.
It is not only a desaster to take some pictures during start and landing (yes, I know what you wanna toss in...). It is difficult to take pictures during the flight too. There is only a chance to sit on the armrest. But this one at the 787 looks not that solid and is very uncomfortable.
The good thing is: There is plenty of space :)
Business classOn the first view the interieur looks not that spectacular. Plenty of plastic. Everything looks like there is only one aim: Build the plane as light as possible. That´s why some parts looking a kind of "cheesy".
Typically for Air India, the style of the seats is colorful in orange and red. The backrest itself is a very thin part and only clipped on the seat itself. The armrest looks and feels like the whole seat: A big part of plastic. Putting my arms on the rest for a longer time didn´t make me feel well. It starts hurting.
Seat in a Air India 787. In the background the magic windows.
The illumination is fantastic for reading. There are adjustable and very bright LED-spots in the ceiling.
Blue is the dominating color of the illumination.Beside the bride lightning-system is a great air-supply-system which offers perfect ventilation.
In difference to other airplanes is the cabine pressure 10% less than in other aircrafts. I felt very well and the humidity with 15% was fine for me too.
Most interesting during a long distance flight, the entertainment-system:Plenty of movies in different languages, numerous games and a big variety of music rounds up the selection. You will have an entertaining flight.
Entertainment-system at the 787. Get in touch with local music and movies, made in India.
Remote control for the entertainment-system
Connect your own earplugs or the provided ones.
The navigation-system offers plenty of informations and different maps, unfortunatelly Air India didn´t invest in a camera outside.
Plenty of different maps with the current location during the flight.
Map with the night and day phase, awesome.
There are also Lightweigted material everywhere.
The blue lighted restrooms are amazing and spacious.
Whether you like the entertaining-system, reading a book or taking a nap, you will love the magical windows of the 787 Dreamliner.
The magic windows of the 787 are 65% larger than at other airplanes.
No more pull-down plastic shades, a larger window space and a build-in dimming function. You are able to adjust the amount of light getting threw the window. It looks fantastic!
You can adjust seven steps by your own.
It looks amazing, a colorful blue and turquoise filter absorbs the light. No more reflections on the screen. And may be this color powers your immune system too and you´re feeling better. In some religions this color is taken for the relieved soul.When I fly, I like to watch the sky and the continents during a flight. I love to take pictures and so I don´t want to dim the window-system.
View through the undimmed window
And here was the only annoyance during the flight. It is possible to adjust the dimming-function individual. But this depends on the adjustment of the cabine-control-system. If it is programmed on section-mode or cabine-mode, there is no indivdual-mode working. You won´t be able to control the intensity of darkness by yourself.
Mountains in Afghanistan
During this flight I had the impression, that the crew, espacially the middleaged chief of the them, has no idea how to configure the window-system. So I tried to show him at the cabine-control-system, how he could adjust the individual-mode for the windows.
Above the snow covered mountains of Afghanistan (dimmed window)
Unfortunately he hadn´t the technical comprehension. He always configured the group-mode.
I know this is a very new airplane and for this reason it is new for the crew as well. Hopefully Air India will invest a better training for their crews working on such an airplane like the 787 in the future.
After two flights with Air India I am bit disappointed. The kindness wasn´t what I expected from an Asian Airline. Only one guy was really friendly. I´m willing to admit this is my subjective opinion. They are only humans. A bad day or something else can make them feeling not well. But I could feel big tensions between the crew-members and this was not only a subjective feeling. They had power games in front of the passengers.
Overall, the food, snacks and beverages were enough and not bad.
Snacks and drinks, Air India.
Lunch, Air India 787. Yes, correct! A cutlery made of steel.
The dreamliner is already overweighted and Boeing is searching for less start weight. Wyh is Air India using cutlery made of steel? And why is it not clean?
On balance it was an average service. I don´t complain, because this wasn´t important for me. I booked the cheapest flight I could find this time.
My priority is the safety and to arrive on-time. Both worked perfect for me.
In total I felt very well during this flight apart from the window issue.
After 14 months travelling around South-East-Asia, touchdown in Frankfurt.
Back in good old Germany.
Boeing asked the Federal Aviation Administration FAA for permission to conduct test fligths on their 787 Dremaliners yesterday.
This news sounds like a progress solving the issues. I hope Boeing will fix the 787-problems soon, that the dreamliner will not longer be a dream in the air.