Scoot all set for 'Dream Start' today

Scoot all set for 'Dream Start' today
Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson (center) touring the Boeing flight assembly line in Seattle, USA, on 29 Jan 2015.

Budget carrier Scoot is putting the finishing touches to its first Boeing 787 plane to get it certified fit to fly to Singapore today.

A 31-strong team of pilots, cabin crew and engineers has been working around the clock over the past two weeks putting the

Dreamliner through a battery of test flights to ensure it gets the final nod, ahead of its 18-hour journey home.

This included testing pilots during take-off and landing in at least four different scenarios.

Scoot's chief executive Campbell Wilson arrived in Seattle earlier this week for test flights to ensure that all systems onboard the 787, which has been nicknamed Dream Start, will run without a hitch.

The Dreamliner's maiden commercial flight is set for next Thursday, on the Singapore-Perth route, and the day after, on the Singapore- Hong Kong route.

Scoot, a Singapore Airlines (SIA) subsidiary, has ordered 20 Dreamliners. It expects to receive its second B-787 in early March and the third in April.

As more B-787s start coming onboard by August, the carrier expects to phase out six of its ageing, hand-me-down B-777 aircraft from SIA. That will also mark Scoot's transition to operating an all-Dreamliner fleet which will be made up of the 787-8s and longer-range 787-9 variants.

Today's delivery of the first Dreamliner comes more than two years after Scoot announced that it will take over the new 787s from SIA. Mr Wilson said: "We can finally have aircraft we can call our own... of course we are excited, but also anxious that we have hopefully put together a plane that will meet not only our expectations but also our customers'."

Scoot's 787s, which will have up to 375 seats in two classes, promise to be roomier and more comfortable. Passengers in all classes can look outside through larger windows and surf the Internet using Wi-Fi onboard.

The Dreamliners, which are primarily made of carbon-fibre composite material, are lighter and use a fifth less fuel than the current fleet does.

Scoot is among 58 airlines that have either ordered or received 1,071 Dreamliners.

Boeing's 787 product marketing and customer leader Tadashi Mabee said the manufacturer "pushed the envelope" to kit up the plane with innovative technologies.

Boeing now produces 10 Dreamliners a month at its factories in Seattle and South Carolina. This will be ramped up to 14 a month by the end of 2020.

The planemaker has also ironed out the initial kinks which plagued it in 2013, two years after the delivery of the first 787s.

The technical snags included battery fires, fuel leaks and faulty brakes that caused the Dreamliner's launch customers Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to ground their fleets.

Mr Mabee said the problems, that typically pop up when a plane is put into commercial service, have been resolved. Boeing has beefed up its certification tests by including scenarios in which the aircraft is operational.

"We did some testing like an airline would, where people are moving things around, banging it, testing the robustness of everything in the airplane," he said.

Last month, Boeing's competitor Airbus delivered its first A350 plane to Qatar Airways.

But Mr Mabee has shrugged off the competition, saying: "We think we have a product that put us ahead of the game... after all, we are sold out to the end of the decade. The numbers speak for themselves."

jermync@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on January 31, 2015.
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