Earlier today I had a chance to join one leg of Boeing’s 787 global Dream Tour on a relatively short hop between the Californian cities of San Diego and Long Beach. The Dream Tour began in Beijing, China in early December 2011 and continued through Africa and the Middle East before resuming in January this year. Early 2012 visits included stops in Dublin, Ireland and various Boeing and 787 supplier sites around the U.S. A third segment of the tour in February, saw the aircraft visit Bangkok, Thailand and Singapore.
Flightdeck display shows our position parked outside Landmark Aviation FBO at San Diego (All photos Guy Norris)
The current phase of the tour takes in eight destinations across Canada, Mexico and the U.S. and ends this week with a final flight from Long Beach to Salt Lake City, Utah. The ferry ride back to Boeing is expected to include some additional flight test work says the crew which is preparing for a fifth, and final, segment of the Dream Tour in the near future.
Orange wiring (here running to the electrically-actuated brakes) indicates ZA003 is still a test aircraft.
The tour is being flown by veteran test aircraft ZA003, a Rolls-Royce powered airframe which was originally focused on interiors and systems certification test work. Although never expected to see airline service, ZA003 sports a furnished interior with representative business class and economy seating, crew rest, entryway atrium area and galleys.
Preimum seating - but with mock-up IFE
However, as ZA003 is a demonstrator some of the seating is not approved for landing and take-offs, meaning not all of them can be occupied for flights between destinations on the tour. Thus only the center rows of the seating in the main cabin and a dedicated seating area of the aft cabin could house passengers for the flight.
The 787 attracts interest from pilots of taxiing Virgin America A320
Here some more images from the day.
An American Airlines 767 - due to be succeeded by the 787 - takes to San Diego's runway 27.
Beneath the belly of the beast
The 787's distinctive flightdeck windows
Window envy - competing transparency size comparison at mid-cabin
Neighborhood watch - quieter aircraft will be greatly appreciated by local residents. This image was taken from my aisle seat in the center seating section.
Airborne at last and the Boeing tour crew grab a few minutes of well-earned rest
Over the California-Arizona border area
Approaching the LA basin over the San Bernardino Mountains and (below) - a close up through the HUD showing Lakes Arrowhead and Papoose.
To see a video clip taken in the flightdeck click on this link:
On finals for the 787's first ever visit to Long Beach as the iconic RMS Queen Mary and ex-Spruce Goose dome appear off the port wing.
Welcome to the undercast - a thick marine layer greets us on arrival at Long Beach.