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KENYA:The sky of dreams

Posted by Administrator on December 28, 2011

Boeing's latest plane - the 787 - stops off in Kenya as it continues a familiarisation tour of the world

Boeing's latest plane - the 787 - stops off in Kenya as it continues a familiarisation tour of the world

When asked what it feels like to fly the brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Captain Paul K Mwangi, chief of Kenya Airways flight operations, says “a pleasure. This aircraft can correct itself electronically in case of failure. It’s efficient and beautiful too.”

Mwangi flew the sleek 787 on a special flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi as part of the new aircraft’s world tour to familiarise the 787 customers with aspects of the aeroplane’s technological advancement. With a firm order of nine aircraft plus an option for an additional four, Kenya Airways (KQ) will take delivery of its first Dreamliner in the last quarter of 2013. Excitement was high among the KQ staff and professionals in Kenya’s aviation and airline industries, as the plane touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi just before midday on December 14. For many, it was the first glimpse of the aircraft. Only 50 people including the visiting media members and VIPs were invited to join a demo flight over the kilimanjaro Mount later in the day.

Piloted by Mwangi, the 787 landed to African drumbeats and a lively tribal lion dance then taxied under a symbolic arc of water sprayed by the fire trucks.

The 787 is a harbinger of things to come. Different from other commercial aircraft in design and structure, the Dreamliner is packed with technological surprises. It’s really not a very big plane, coming somewhere between the Boeing 737-800 and the 777-200. Boeing says the plane can carry between 210 to 290 passengers on routes between 14,200 and 15,750 kilometres. The big plus for the Dreamliner is that it consumes 20 percent less fuel than today’s planes of comparable size. Its maintenance cost is lower than other Boeing aircraft.

That’s made possible because of special engines, well designed wings, the special fuselage material and other factors.

The Dreamliner on this world tour is powered by two Rolls Royce Trent1000 engines or, in some cases, by General Electric GeNX engines. They provide the lowest fuel burn, lowest emissions and noise signature.

Then there are the innovative raked wing tips that ensure aerodynamic efficiency on long-haul routes. When in flight, the wings curve beautifully. There’s also something special about the airframe: the aircraft comprises nearly half carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic and other composites, which makes it lighter and stronger. That explains why it flies faster with a cruising speed close to the speed of sound at Mach 0.85.

“The surface is so smooth because there are fewer nuts and bolts,” says a Boeing guide. The 787 aircraft has less than 10,000 holes on the fuselage (the Boeing 747 has one million holes).

he interior of the twin-aisle 787 is as luxurious as a showroom for supercars. The LED lighting system helps enhance passengers’ mood as it simulates a full flying day for longer flights, gradually changing through a spectrum of lighting from day into night. You can experience sunrise and sunset glow in the cabin, helping your body clock keep track of the changing hours. Sleep also comes easier thanks to quieter air conditioning, advanced vibration isolation in sidewalls and ceilings and interior materials that reduce squeaks.

There’s more headroom, which will please tall passengers, larger overhead bins and the conventional window shades are gone, replaced by an electronic window dimming system. This allows passengers to change the tint of the window from fully transparent to completely dimmed at the touch of a button. The cabin crew can select the minimum dimming level from a central control to maintain the appropriate light level for activity in the cabin and the phase of flight.

Even with the overall cabin lighting completely dimmed, passengers will be able to enjoy the view through a deeply tinted window-without disturbing others who may be sleeping or watching a movie.

More humidity in the cabin’s cleaner and healthy air control system removes bacteria, viruses, fungi as well as odours, irritants and gaseous contaminants. Flight attendants will face fewer complaints of headache, eye irritation and dryness. Another positive point is the lower cabin altitude, which results in increased oxygen absorption. The 787’s cabin is pressurised to a new maximum level of 6,000 feet – 2,000 feet lower than most other aircraft. Tests show that the body absorbs eight per cent more oxygen into the blood at this altitude, so passengers experience less dizziness and fatigue.

Even the ride promises to be smoother thanks to Boeing’s Smoother Ride Technology. This system senses turbulence and commands wing control surfaces to counter it.

The 787 will gradually replace Kenya Airways’ ageing 767 fleet and confirms the airline’s growing status as the pride of Africa. Kenya Airways CEO Dr Titus Naikuni says the acquisition of the Dreamliner aircraft will help propel the airline in its quest to become the airline of choice connecting Africa to the rest of the world.

“The 787 Dreamliner fits well with our expansion strategy, giving us an opportunity to expand our markets beyond the current offering while cementing our mandate of connecting Africa to the world and the world to Africa through our hub at JKIA,” Naikuni says.

The writer’s trip to Nairobi, his accommodation and meals were paid for by Kenya Airways.

Soaring safari

_ Kenya Airways flies nonstop from Bangkok to Nairobi seven times per week. Visit http://www.Kenya-Airways.com.

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/life/The-sky-of-dreams-30172589.html

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