A little history of my aviation geekiness…
My interest in commercial aviation started back in 1991, when working in Combustion lab in Arizona State University, on commercial aircraft engines for research. I followed the evolution of 777 engines and started following all different types of makes and models. I prefer Boeing planes to Airbus, and Boeing 777 has been still my favorite plane of all. I can probably identify 95% of commercial aircraft – including model and type of engines, speed and capacities, etc. I also record every one of my flights (since 2006)… so hope you are convinced I am a aviation geek.
I have been following Dreamliner since its announcement, its features, material, efficiency, battery fires, etc. Since none of the US airliners acquired these planes (until United recently), I haven’t had a chance to fly on one of these for a long time. I was almost tempted to fly Air India which has a few dreamliners in its fleet. So, when I saw British Airways introduced one of its 8 planes on London – Hyderabad route, I had to book that flight for my trip to India.
On April 18th, when I landed in London from Phoenix (on a 747), I was checking out the gates to see where dreamliners were… spotted a couple. Took the train to C gates in Terminal 5 and started walking towards the gate… and there it was… this was probably the closest I have been to one.
I knew it wasn’t necessarily a big plane, a more efficient mid-size, long range plane. Not sure many people recognize it… its 2 distinct features are the different nose and curved wing tips. I couldn’t wait to board the plane and check out the interior. Finally after 15-20 minutes wait, we started boarding… I almost had goose bumps stepping into it… almost 2+ years since it has been in service.
First thing I noticed how “NEW” it the plane was… almost smells like new car. Beautiful lighting and colors. Reached my seat.. first thing I had to do was to take pictures… The seat was similar to other club world seats on British Airways and few enhancements on the controls and entertainment.
Next, I had to play with the window shades… there are no pull up and down shades.. just the controller to darken and lighten the window. At its darkest setting, in the middle of the day, the sun looked like moon… and it was really dark, you can still see a bit of outside. The windows were huge and everything else in the plane got nice updates. Not sure about the bathroom door though… it is “new slide” and many people are not used to it… including me. There is no green/red occupied sign on the front… instead a red/green light at top of the door – and people are not used to that either… someone almost knocked the door down when I was inside. Sensors for flush, faucet and lot of other upgrades.
My seat was right next to the wing/engine. The Rolls Royce engine was HUGE… almost as big as the 777 engine. These engines ran quieter and one of they are most powerful ones out there. We were going at 640-650 mph during some stretches of the flight.
Finally… the wings.. well, they are made of composite material and resemble close to a bird’s wings. Well… what I didn’t realize how flexible they were… when we took off, during climb wing really looked like it was flapping… never seen a wing bounce like that before in my life.
The cabin was supposed to be more comfortable for long haul flights… the 9 hr 35 min flight went by quick with a comfortable 4 1/2 hr sleep and couple of movies. Landed in Hyderabad 3o minutes earlier at 4:20 a.m. –
The experience was every bit as per my expectations and made the long trip to India go by quick. Now that I finally been on one, I can now say that the dreamliner is now my new favorite plane and looking forward to my next flight on it in 3 weeks.
PS: No, I haven’t been paid by British Airways or Boeing… but I think they should 🙂