Air Canada Dreamliner takes to the skies

Air Canada’s first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (C-GHPQ) had its initial test flight on April 22 at Paine Field (PAE), in Everett, Wash.  The General Electric GEnx-1B-powered plane lifted off from Runway 16R at 4:03 p.m., in the shadow of Boeing’s massive widebody assembly plant.  This initial test flight was unexpectedly short, and the plane returned to land at 4:22 p.m.  The flight test crew then did a high-speed ground run northbound along Runway 34L before taxiing to the flightline ramp. 

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787 first flights are usually around two hours long, and it’s not yet confirmed why HPQ’s flight was cut short.  It may have been due to an onboard systems issue, or perhaps because of the airspace restrictions related to the imminent departure of Air Force One from PAE.  Whatever the cause, C-GHPQ had a short, 19-minute inaugural flight.

Air Canada’s next Dreamliner, C-GHPT, was also on the Boeing flightline, undergoing pre-flight preparations. Its third 787, C-GHPU, is in Boeing’s Everett Modifications Center hangar.

The first Air Canada 787-8 was rolled out of the Everett widebody plant over two months ago, at the beginning of February.  According to sources, the first flight and subsequent delivery of the plane was delayed due to various final completion issues.  As a result, Air Canada has revised its initial plans for deploying its Dreamliners.

Passengers on the Toronto-Montreal route will see the 787 on May 21, only, and then the planes will be flying on Air Canada’s Toronto-Zurich service from May 25 to June 29.  These route- and equipment-proving flights will precede the “official” inaugural flight for Air Canada’s Dreamliner on July 1, from Toronto to Tokyo-Haneda. The airline had planned to inaugurate Toronto to Tel Aviv 787 service on July 1 as well, but that’s now been revised to a July 15 start date.  

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Planespotters and passengers at other airports might also see the 787, as Air Canada is expected to “preview” the Dreamliner at select domestic and international destinations.

Including the three planes scheduled for delivery over the next few weeks, Air Canada has a total of 37 Dreamliners on order. Fifteen 251-seat, 3-class 787-8s, as well as 22 of the larger 787-9s, are all scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2019. As the 787s come online, the airline’s venerable Boeing 767-300s will be transferred to its leisure carrier, Air Canada Rouge.

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