Captain John Murphy and Captain Phil Copnall with MEN reporter Charlotte Cox on Thomson's first Dreamliner 787 flight in Britain, from Gatwick to Menorca
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has jetted off on its first passenger flight from Britain – and I was on board to experience it.
Thomson Airways carried 290 passengers on the historic journey from Gatwick Airport to Menorca on Friday.
The plane – one of the greenest in the world – will fly from Manchester Airport to Florida and Cancun, Mexico, from July 8. It will also be used on long-haul services to Phuket in Thailand from the winter, as well as Puerto Vallarta in Mexico and Mauritius next year.
I was among those on board the £129m aircraft – named Living the Dream.
Heralded for its fuel and carbon efficiency, it also features jet-lag busting cabin pressurisation, more leg and head room, and a bright interior.
It can fly non-stop for up to 15 hours and burns fuel in a cleaner way, which makes it 20 per cent more carbon friendly than other aircraft. Thomson had to put back the launch of the first flight by a month after Boeing grounded the plane in January following battery problems.
But pilot John Murphy, also director of flight operations, said all issues have been completely resolved.
He said: “I have 100 per cent confidence in this aeroplane.
“It is the most modern aeroplane in the world. For Manchester, it means a lot. The airport is among our biggest bases in the UK. We are a great employer for Manchester and this is a really exciting day –I think I’ve been more excited than the passengers.
“We’ve been planning this for over nine years and it's great that we had the great privilege of flying you to Menorca on our brand new aircraft. It was an historic day for Thomson.”
Cabin crew member Amy Jackson, 25, also praised the plane. She said: “Because the cabin pressure is lower it means you get less jet lag – which we’re really looking forward to. The fuel efficiency is good too so we can travel for miles without having to stop.”
Many passengers had booked their flights months ago – and remained unaware of the historic event until they boarded. Father-of-two Paul Ramsden, 36, and partner Sarah, 35, from Northampton, were flying with their two children.
Mr Ramsden said: “We got the email telling us about the Dreamliner but we didn’t read it so we were completely surprised when we realised it was an historic flight when we got on the plane. When we saw it we did think ‘wow’. We are very impressed and it’s been great, so smooth and spacious."
• By 2015, Thomson Airways will have a fleet of eight Dreamliners
• Each is worth £129m
• It will carry 291 passengers, including 244 in economy and 47 in premium club class
• The jet communicates with engineers using a wireless network meaning it can send data quicker and increase safety.
Thomson is now accepting bookings, so visit Thomson to get on board.
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