Qantas has just rolled out its 10th Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and it looks stunning. The plane, VH-ZNJ, is called Longreach, a nod to both the outback town and the retiring Longreach Qantas 747-400s. VH-ZNJ was brought out of Boeing’s paint shop today dressed in special centenary colours.
In a statement, Qantas recognized Longreach, the small Queensland town twenty hours drive from Brisbane that played an integral role in the formation of Qantas in 1920. In a nice piece of symmetry, Qantas also acknowledged the Longreach 747-400s. Both that first Avro 504K bi-plane and the jumbos helped bridge the tyranny of distance.
That Avro was bought for £1,425. It has probably been a while since Qantas picked up a plane for that price. The list price for a new 787-9 is around USD$190 million.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said;
“The story of Qantas is the story of modern Australia, and the logos on the livery tell that story from the beginning.
“Our centenary celebrations are all about honoring our past with an eye on the future, so it’s fitting that this special livery will be worn by our newest, state-of-the-art Dreamliner.”
But enough chat, check out the photos.
Next year marks the centenary of flying for Qantas. Mr Joyce said the airline has a few things planned for the occasion. What exactly they will be, he failed to elaborate on. The Qantas 100 livery, however, will be a recurring theme over the centenary year.
VH-ZNJ will take part in a Project Sunrise research flight
VH-ZNJ will take part in a series of test flights in North America before being officially handed over to Qantas. Qantas says the plane will fly the second of the Project Sunrise research flights. This second flight will be London to Sydney nonstop. It will be only the second time an aircraft has flown this distance nonstop.
The first-ever Qantas Longreach 747-400 was delivered in a record-breaking nonstop flight between the two cities in 1989. This writer was a boy then and remembers it well. That plane was VH-OJA. It is retired now, down at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society in Albion Park. And, until now, that flight has not been replicated.
When the research flight is completed, VH-ZNJ will enter regular service. It is anticipated this will be mid-November 2019.
The sun is yet to rise on Project Sunrise
But as Simple Flying has reported, Project Sunrise isn’t a done deal yet. Mr Joyce and the Qantas pilots union, the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), need to reach an agreement on employment conditions pertaining to operating the ultra-long-haul Project Sunrise flights.
But The Australian newspaper is reporting that there has been a “coup” at AIPA. The committee negotiating with Qantas was perceived by its members to be taking too long and being too close to the airline. The members on that committee have been replaced.
According to the newspaper, the change of faces at the negotiating table was driven by concerns about “the direction the executive was taking with regard to a new short-haul agreement, and Project Sunrise negotiations.”
The gloss around Project Sunrise is starting to lose a little of its shine. Hopefully, that rather nice new paint job on VH-ZNJ will last a lot longer.