UK’s first long haul commercial Dreamliner takes off

The UK’s first long haul commercial flights using the troubled 787 Dreamliner aircraft took off from Glasgow airport on Monday morning.

Thomson Airways flight TOM518 to Cancun in Mexico was seen off from Gate 29 with haggis, Irn Bru and champagne for passengers on the jetlag-busting Boeing 787. Chris Browne, managing director of Thomson Airways, was among the special guests.

The introduction of the ‘revolutionary’ aircraft has been a ‘major milestone’ for operators, Browne said.

The 787 is constructed using composite materials and new engines from General Electric and Rolls Royce. The plane features mood lighting, improved cabin pressure, windows and extra legroom seats to help offset the effects of jetlag. The lightweight construction makes the Dreamliner nearly 20 percent more fuel-efficient than equivalent aircraft in use and it is also 60 percent quieter.

Each aircraft can carry up to 291 passengers and fly up to an altitude of 38,000ft (11,500m). The plane was originally expected to go into commercial service in 2008, but was delayed due to production difficulties. Japanese carrier, All Nippon Airways, operated the first commercial flight in October 2011.

Thomson had planned to use the 787s from May, but all 50 were grounded in January due to faulty batteries. Boeing’s international fleet of Dreamliners was also grounded and deliveries stopped for three months, after a battery on an All Nippon Airlines 787 caught fire and a malfunction forced another flight to make an emergency landing. Flights using the aircraft were reintroduced with new batteries in April.

Thomson Airways has said that it is planning to take delivery of eight 787s in total.

British Airways has taken delivery of the first 2 of 42 Dreamliners ordered over the next 10 years, and Virgin Atlantic is scheduled to receive the first of its 16 Dreamliners in September 2014.