Blue Sky Thinking
It’s not long now until Thomson Airways takes delivery of the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing’s brand-new super jet. Here, we look at some of the planes in the Thomson Airways fleet that have forged – and will be forging – new frontiers in flying…
Thomson Airways first took to the skies in 1962, ferrying holidaymakers from Manchester to Majorca. Back then, the airline was called Euravia and the fleet (if you can call it that) was made up of just three propeller-driven classics called Lockheed Constellations. The Connies, as they were affectionately known, were some of the first planes to have pressurised cabins. Flying would never be the same again…
The arrival of six Bristol Britannias in 1964 sparked a name change for the airline – it was so long Euravia, and hello Britannia Airways. These sleek turboprops were incredibly quiet, hence their nickname, the Whispering Giants. The following year, Britannia was snapped up by Lord Roy Thomson who needed an airline for his new business venture – a little-known holiday company called, you’ve guessed it, Thomson.
Britannia went into the Jet Age at full throttle, becoming the first European airline to get its hands on this nippy little jetliner. The 737 was perfect for short hops around Europe, and seriously cut down flying time – instead of 6 hours, it could do a round trip to Majorca in 4. By the end of the Sixties, Britannia had scored another coup as the first British charter airline to serve hot meals. Chicken or beef, anyone?
Places like Australia started to appear on the route map when Britannia became the first airline in Europe to fly this long-ranger. And its cutting edge extras, like onboard tellies, meant passengers could leave their travel Scrabble sets at home. By the time the 767- 200s were retired, Britannia had been rechristened twice – Thomsonfly in 2004 and Thomson Airways in 2008, when it merged with First Choice Airways.
Thomson 787 Dreamliner
1st in the UK
They’re all whispering about it at airport check-in desks. They’re all chatting about it in galleys at 40,000 feet. And here at Thomson HQ, it’s all we ever seem to talk about. So what exactly is it that’s got everyone in the travel industry more excited than a kid on Christmas Day? Boeing’s latest baby – the 787 Dreamliner. And Thomson Airways is going to be the first airline in the UK to fly this super-league plane.
Passenger comfort will reach new heights. The seat pitch in Economy Club will be 34” – that’s more than you get with BA and Virgin. And with 38” inches in Premium Club, you’ll be more tempted than ever to upgrade. Along with bigger seats, the 787 will have wider aisles and higher ceilings. In fact, even at its lowest point, the cabin tops 6 foot.
What’s so special about the 787? Well, it’s going to be made out of something called ‘composite’ which will make it stronger, lighter and more aerodynamic. The result? Well, let’s just say the Dreamliner will really be able to go the distance – 8,000 miles non-stop, in fact. What’s more, this bad boy will zoom through the air at Mach 0.85. That’s equivalent to 640 miles per hour – about 3 times faster than a Formula 1 car at full throttle. Move over Lewis Hamilton!
Perhaps most impressive of all, jetlag is being tackled head on. The re-jigged cabin pressure means you get more oxygen in your bloodstream, so you’ll step off the plane feeling fresher.
It’s Oh So Quiet
The Dreamliner will generate 60 per cent less noise than standard planes during take-off and landing. It’ll be quieter when you’re in the air, too.
Window On The World
The 787’s windows are about 3 times the size of an average jet’s. And the seats have been laid out in a really clever way, so wherever you’re sitting you’ll get a view of the horizon. When you’re ready for a nap, simply dim the windows at the touch of a button.
Boeing’s new plane is going to be kitted out with a clever mood lighting system. It can mimic things like dawn and dusk so as not to knock out your body clock.
When it comes to powerful engines, the Dreamliner’s take some beating. Each one has enough power to supply energy to two million iPods at the same time. Talking of iPods, you’ll be able to plug yours into your seatback TV to watch your downloads.