"Code One, Code One!" It's the sort of frantic call you'd expect to hear on some dramatic TV hospital show. But at Boeing's sprawling facility in South Carolina, it's spoken in more relaxed tones and a distinct southern drawl.
"Code One" is Boeing-talk for the first model of an aircraft type delivered to any airline. This week that means the first Dreamliner for Singapore Airlines – and not just any Dreamliner but the debut of the Boeing 787-10, a stretched version of the popular 787-9.
So maybe that makes this a double "Code One". It's certainly a moment of vast import for both the aircraft manufacturer and the airline.
The 787-10 is built exclusively at Boeing’s facility in South Carolina, which also produces some of the smaller -8 and -9 models but is an all-Dreamliner plant.
Singapore Airlines will pick up the keys to the first of up to 49 of the Dreamliners tomorrow, ahead of start of flights to Osaka and Perth in May 2018. Also in line for the 787-10 are Etihad, Emirates, British Airways, United Airlines and ANA.
The Boeing 787-10 is 5.5 metres longer than the 787-9, and foregoes a few thousand kilometres in flying range so that can fit more passengers from tip to tail – in the case of Singapore Airlines, this will be 337 travellers, with 36 in its all-new regional business class seats and 301 in the economy cabin.
(Singapore Airlines has opted to drop premium economy from the Boeing 787-10, and will do likewise with a forthcoming regional version of the Airbus A350.)
Boeing Marketing Director Jeffrey Haber is keen to point out that the 787-10 brings 80% of the world’s population within reach from Singapore, despite its range being slightly reduced compared to the mid-sized 787-9 (11,910km versus 14,140km).
Although tomorrow’s delivery flight from Charleston to Singapore features the first 787-10 delivered to an airline, it’s actually the fourth in the family to be built – three more of the stretched jets “were created for the flight test program,” Haber tells Australian Business Traveller, ”and these will be refreshed and resold to airlines.”
Haber declined to say if these pre-loved aircraft would carry a reduced ‘demonstrator model’ price tag.
David Flynn travelled to Boeing South Carolina as a guest of Singapore Airlines