Icehouse performs from plane in most Aussie thing ever

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THE long-awaited arrival of Qantas’ first Dreamliner was always going to be a emotionally charged affair.

The Boeing 787-9, registered as VH-ZNA, touched down in Sydney on Friday morning after its maiden flight from United States and was ceremoniously wheeled into its hangar to the sounds of cheers from Qantas staff and a choral rendition of I Still Call Australia Home, the song that can make even the most steel-hearted among us weep.

But the Australiana theme at the welcoming ceremony was really amped up when the doors of the plane opened and Australian rock legends Icehouse emerged performing their classic hit Great Southern Land.

It was a fitting tribute from Icehouse and frontman Iva Davies, who was inspired to write the 1982 song after he once flew over the Red Centre on a Qantas flight.

And it was an especially perfect song choice to welcome VH-ZNA, which was given the name “Great Southern Land” in a public naming competition this year.

VH-ZNA is the first of eight Dreamliners ordered by Qantas. The state-of-the-art aircraft will service some of the Flying Kangaroo’s longest journeys, including a 17-hour whopper between Perth and London that will directly link Australia and the UK for the first time.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce, who was among the VIPs on board the flight from the Boeing facility in Seattle, said the arrival of the Dreamliners was one of the biggest things to happen in the history of Qantas.

“We’ve taken delivery of hundreds of aircraft in our 98-year history but only a few of them have been game-changers like this one,” he said.

“In the 1940s the Lockheed Constellation meant we could fly around the world, and in the 1960s the Boeing 707 took us into the jet age and cut flying time in half.

“The Boeing 747 changed the economics of travel for millions of people and the sheer size of the Airbus A380 meant we could re-imagine what in-flight service was like.

“Our version of the Dreamliner follows in those footsteps. It gives us a combination of flying range and passenger comfort that will change how people travel.”

Passengers on the Dreamliner can expect larger windows, better air quality to help reduce jet lag and ride dampening technology to reduce the effects of turbulence.

The jet is also quieter, more fuel efficient and generates fewer greenhouse emissions than aircraft of a similar size.

VH-ZNA, which arrived on Friday morning, will service a number of domestic routes before it takes on the Melbourne to Los Angeles service on December 15.

The second of Qantas’ Dreamliners is on the production line at the Boeing facility in Seattle and will be delivered by the end of the year.

THE QANTAS DREAMLINER, BY THE NUMBERS

• Two Dreamliner services have been announced so far: the Melbourne to Los Angeles service starts in December and the Perth to London service starts in March.

• The Dreamliner seats 236 people, including 42 people in business class, 28 in premium economy, and 166 in economy.

• It will have a cabin air pressure that’s equivalent to an altitude of 6000 feet. On most aircraft it’s about 8000 feet, which means cabin air pressure on the Dreamliner is closer to conditions on the ground.

• Windows are 65 per cent larger on the Dreamliner and it uses up to 20 per cent less fuel than a traditional aircraft of its size.

• There will be two self-service bars on the Dreamliner — one in economy, and one in business class — so passengers can help themselves to drinks and snacks.

• Passengers in the dreaded middle seat in premium economy will be given an extra five centimetres of seat width, compared to other premium economy classes.

• The Dreamliner has a range of 14,400 kilometres, a wingspan of 60 metres, a length of 63 metres and a height of 17 metres. It can reach a cruise speed of 900 kilometres per hour, or Mach 0.85.

• Qantas has ordered eight Dreamliners, which are due to be delivered by the end of 2018. Five of Qantas’ 747s will be retired to make way for the Dreamliner fleet.



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Alexandra Laverro

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