Glenn Beasley looks back on a summer of Thomson Airways’ Dreamliner encounters.
2013 has seen deliveries of Boeing 787 Dreamliners gather pace and one British carrier, Thomson Airways, received their first four examples of a total of eight on order. The first registered, G-TUIA, arrived at Manchester Airport on the 31 May 2013 and on receiving these aircraft, the airline commenced pilot training around a number of different locations in the UK, one of those being Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
Being a reasonably low-key commercial airport with plenty of space, there were a number of visits by all four of Thomson’s flagship new jets during June and July earlier this year, taking advantage of Robin Hood’s long runway and quiet airspace. Such was the pace of the training that it wasn’t uncommon to see more than one Thomson Dreamliner on the tarmac at any one time.
The ‘Robin Hood’ leg of each training flight usually involved the aircraft leaving Prestwick and staying at Doncaster for around 45 minutes, flying a single approach, landing for a crew change and onward departure. It’s fair to say the faint hum of the Dreamliner’s engines became a bit of a fixture in this part of South Yorkshire over the summer months and in some pleasant weather, the visits provided some good opportunities to capture the 787 in its earliest days of UK operations.
Remarkably, the airline and its 787 fleet are already preparing to clock up 250,000 passengers who have experienced travelling on the Dreamliner since June this year. Further diverse locations are planned in the next few weeks, with passenger flights commencing to Jamaica, the Maldives, Thailand, Barbados, Kenya, Cuba, Goa and the Dominican Republic.
The company has also reported improved customer satisfaction as a result of the 787 entering service, with 99% of respondents saying they would recommend the airline to others. Whilst it hasn’t been a completely satisfactory year for every operator of the 787, it would appear that the UK’s first operator of the type is more than happy with their Dreamliner experience thus far. They do look pretty good in the Thomson colours too!