First Qantas 787-9 takes flight

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNA takes off on its first flight. (Qantas)
Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNA takes off on its first flight. (Qantas)

Qantas’s first Boeing 787-9 has undertaken its maiden flight as the clock ticks down towards first delivery.

The airline published photos of the test flight on social media on Friday, including on its Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Operating as flight BOE269, the aircraft, sporting registration VH-ZNA, took off from Snohomish County Airport at Boeing’s Everett facility just outside Seattle at about 1120 on Thursday (US time) and landed at Grant County International Airport at Moses Lake about 90 minutes later, according to flight tracking website Flightaware.

The 787-9 was on the ground for about 20 minutes before making the 35-minute return trip to Boeing’s Everett facility.

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNA. (Qantas)

Qantas has said previously it planned to accept delivery of the aircraft in mid-October, with VH-ZNA expected to be welcomed in Sydney on the morning of Friday, October 20.

The aircraft, the first of eight 787-9s on firm order, will first enter service on the Qantas domestic network while the airline gains experience operating the type before it is deployed on Melbourne-Los Angeles flights in December. Nonstop Perth-London flights begin next March.

The name of the first 787-9 remains unknown. One image showed some tape covering up what is likely to be the name of VH-ZNA under the roundel of the old flying kangaroo symbol near the nose of the aircraft.

What will Qantas name its first Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNA? (Qantas)
What will Qantas name its first 787? The answer is under the tape. (Qantas)

Qantas said earlier in 2017 the names for its first batch of Dreamliners would be inspired by the country’s indigenous heritage, famous landmarks and native animals.


  1. Robertino says

    All Nippon took the first 787 back in 2011. Pity it took so long for The Red Roo to get their first one ( excluding Jetstar of course )

  2. Riplander says

    @Markie they left out the kangaroo on the cowling because these engines can be utilised on the jet star 787s for maintenance and synergy purposes.

  3. Taelum W says

    This QF 787 beauty looks stunning. I can’t wait to see it here down under in person. The weather definitely turned out well for these photos.

  4. Sim J says

    Surprised Qantas went for the 787. Given they are retiring the 747, this leaves the international arm with A380s and A330s, so I would’ve thought the A350 was more practical & economic to give this arm a common Airbus fleet. Leaving the domestic (atm) with a Boeing fleet (737 & 717). Yes I know Jetstar have the 787 & therefore there is some commonality, but Jetstar are in the same boat as well, going from all Airbus (A320 & A330) to mixed instead of the A350. Is fleet commonality and therefore operational & maintenance economics not a factor in airline survive ability or profitability a factor for airlines these days?

  5. Roger says

    I believe that the 787-9s will only be operating transcontinental flights between the east coast and Perth, but I may be wrong.

  6. Riplander says

    Sim J I’m guessing that they had a good deal with the B787s with Boeing back in 2005 and Boeing honoured it when QF ordered eight back in 2015.

  7. Patrickk says

    Sim J the 787 order predated the A350 Design. The original A350 was to be what is now a A330NEO which nobody wanted so it was recast as the A350XWB a completely new design but well after the 787 Design. A delay of four years on the 787 is what resulted them appearing much closer together. As a launch customer plus delay penalties QF is getting them for a very good price indeed.

  8. Roger says

    As to why some airlines like to have both Airbus and Boeing aircraft, I have heard it said that they generally get better deals because the airlines do not know which company they will go for. For example, it is possible that Air France will be getting a very good deal with their shorthaul fleet modernisation because Air France and its subsidiaries HOP! and Joon use Airbus narrowbodies, while KLM–part of Air France–KLM–uses Boeing narrowbodies.

  9. Gary says

    Roger, dead wrong. The will be settling in flying transcon; however, 2018 will see them launching Perth – London and Brisbane – US West Coast amongst others and I am sure as the fleet grows, many more destinations also.

  10. Roger says

    Yeah, I know that. But this year, before MEL—LAX and next year before MEL—PER—LHR, they will be flying between SYD, BNE and MEL and PER. I didn’t think that they would be flying to smaller airports like OOL, etc.

  11. Gary says

    As to the kangaroo on the engine cover I understand Boeing is quite sensitive on this issue as it affects laminar flow over the engine casings. I agree with others that the 787 was ordered well before the A350 was envisaged.

  12. Pete says

    What are Emirates better at, Jess? Exploiting their non-unionised workforce? Or giving all their profits to the totalitarian dictator who runs their country of origin? Cramming ten-abreast into a 777 to give it the ambience of a medieval slave-ship? Or maybe their “new” business class that still forces passengers who fork out thousands and thousands of dollars for their fares into a middle seat?

    But yeah, they’re sooooo much better than Qantas. Not.

  13. Craigy says

    @ Simj The current B787 order for Qantas is part of the original order and is coming from the options component after cancelling the original firm order except for the 11 Jetstar got. The options have an agreed price and delivery date. The additional purchase rights also agreed come at an already agreed price but no set delivery dates.

    As for breaking the Qantas fleet into domestic and international, Qantas GM International started at the recent Conference for IATA I think said that there is no such thing as a Qantas domestic or international fleet. There is a Qantas fleet and aircraft are utilised to suit demand, for example a B747 flying between Melb and Perth for a domestic flight or B737 operating Syd – Depensar, Bris – Port Moresby, or Syd – Queenstown.

  14. Mike says

    @Gary. With regards your explanation to no kangaroo logos on the Qantas B787 engine cowlings, why then do KLM, Qatar, Air India, Scoot and Air France, to name a just a few, have logo decals on their B787 engines? Just curious.

  15. Roger says

    Why Emirates is better than Qantas:
    1. the bar and shower on the A380
    2. more international destinations served
    3. more flights on the “Kangaroo Route”
    4. more widebody aircraft, showing higher passenger numbers
    5. better inflight entertainment

    Why Qantas is better than Emirates:
    1. stronger cultural identity
    2. flag carrier
    3. more destinations through the use of subsidiaries
    4. award winner in many passenger classes according to latest SkyTrax World Airline Awards
    5. stronger network of global alliances

  16. Anton says

    I really love the new Qantas logo and titles on the aircraft and I also like now they brought back the old ‘winged’ Qantas logo on the front of the aircraft.

  17. Horatio says


    10 across on a 777 is just as bad as nine across on a 787. Imagine that for 17+ hours.

    Nothing revolutionary about that Qantas.

  18. Barry says

    Interesting that the B787-9 for QF was first ordered in 2005. 12 Years between first order and first delivery, all part of Alan’s plan!

  19. Al says

    @Mike, there are indeed a number of airlines that have either pained their 787’s nacelles in a different colour or have attached logos.

    There are significant fuel savings to be made by going with the white nacelles which have featured on the majority of 787s delivered so far, a restriction which had resulted from laminar flow considerations.

    Boeing says it is evaluates customer requests to paint the nacelles on a “case by case basis”.

    “We need to evaluate each custom colour request because different colours may require different thicknesses to achieve the desired appearance,” the airframer says.

    “We need to ensure that the thickness required does not exceed the design tolerance.”

    Boeing says that specific discussions with its customers regarding the colours are “considered confidential”.

    The paint is crucial to the aircraft’s economics because laminar flow reduces skin friction drag, and cuts fuel burn, but it requires a smooth surface with minimal boundary disruption.

    Even the thickness of paint layers can interrupt the laminar flow between the engine inlet and the surface of the nacelle.

    I would suggest that the ability to utilise these engines across the entire QF Group fleet as noted by @Riplander along with the fuel savings that can be garnered, this is a sound business decision.

  20. Craig says

    @ Barry. The B787 was ordered under Geoff Dixon’s watch as CEO. With the delays and the state of Qantas’ balance sheet, Alan Joyce’s team decided not to continue with the order as it stood, opting to only purchase the aircraft for Jetstar. This in turn released A332s back to Qantas. Once the balance sheet was sorted out with a reduction in debt and an agreement with the pilots union, the order was made for 8. These aircraft are from the options not the firm order. Pricing and delivery spots were agreed in the original order.

  21. Gary says

    Barry – I don’t think you can point the finger only at the CEO. We don’t need to go into the issues with Boeing at the B787. I can’t quote the exact figures; however, it’s EIS was severely delayed by the manufacturer.

  22. SimJ says

    @Patrickk & @Craigy
    Thanks for the info, makes sense. When did Qantas change to ‘one business’? It was only a few years ago they always talked as though domestic and international were separate departments of Qantas.
    I like the 787, it is an equal Boeing favourite with the 717 and think it will be great for Qantas, for some reason though the new Qantas livery on it to me doesn’t give the ‘nice’ factor as other liveries do on it. (Not a fan of the armless kangaroo either).

  23. JR says

    I think the 787 looks great in Qantas colours. I just find it hard to get as excited as some seem to be given the aircraft has been in service with other airlines for so long… And that 9 abreast seating. It’s gonna be uncomfortable. It’ll make the A330 seem luxurious by comparison.

  24. Riplander says

    @ Lechuga

    Not for another 10 years at least, as they have just recently refurbished their A330s.

  25. ESLowe says

    The 787 is a nice flight experience, but I hope QANTAS will avoid the cattle truck experience I suffered on United Airlines. You need seats you can dose off in and food that is edible…I know airlines don’t make their money from tourist class…but really!

  26. Craig says

    @Sim J

    The domestic and international arms are still separate entities within the group but as a group they see the fleet as Qantas Group not through the prism of domestic or international. This allows the airline to get the best return out of the fleet. A good example is with the reduction in resources related activity in the West, this has released A332 for other opportunities such as Auckland from Sydney, replacing a B738 and the Osaka flights; or B717 replacing B738 on Qantas mainline services for some routes.

  27. Beech76 says

    While the 787 is relatively new aircraft, I am not overly impressed as a passenger. I still prefer the A380 (Qantas). B747 (Qantas), B767 (AirNZ) then the 787 (AirNZ) in that order but you cant always get what you want 🙂

  28. Ian says

    That white armless rat on the tail looks awful on an otherwise attractive livery. Call me old-fashioned but I still fondly remember the winged variety as the best QF ever used.

  29. John Reid says

    I lve in Canberra.

    I have flown Emirates short-haul 777 3-4-3 – it was awful even though I had an aisle seat.
    I have flown LATAM medium-haul (4 hr flight) 787 3-3-3 – it was much better than the 10-abreast 777, even in a middle seat. I think not quite as comfy as a 747 – but A380 remains a cut above all of these.

    I am willing to give the Perth-London leg a go if it comes up at right price on the day – though I’d still prefer the SIN-LHR A380 service ex Sydney.

  30. Patrickk says

    ESlowe agree entirely about United and to that add minuscule servings of inedible food. One is starving by the end of a 14hr flight.

  31. Veejette says

    To Roger above…..

    In your list of ‘positives’ for QF, you didn’t mention it’s the safest Airline in the world, for a number of years’ consecutively.

    Also, it’s the ONLY Airline to have won the coveted ‘Cumberbatch Trophy’ TWICE!

    Google it for further info.

  32. says

    I hear that QANTAS are possibly considering using the first of their Brisbane based 787-9 to do a YBBN to KDFW then a KDFW to YMML and back routing to prove the route, before switching them to a YBBN-YPPH-LFPG route or a YBBN-YPPH-EDDF as more airframes become available and after their domestic based proving flights.

  33. Craig says

    @ Andrew Ferguson. Qantas have stated that with the delivery of the 8 B789, 5 B744 will be retired to leave a fleet of 6 B744ER. If four are to be based in Brisbane, then it would make sense to change the QF15/16 to a B789. That removes two B744 from the fleet leaving another two B744 to be removed from the route structure. One could possibly come from changing the QF127/128 to an A380. That would just leave one more aircraft.

  34. Vannus says

    Commonsense(?) would dictate that the name of QF’s first B787 would be ‘DREAMtime’,
    as it’s sub-name is ‘DREAMliner’……….

  35. Galaxy1530 says

    I’m gonna cry!
    I wish I could see VH-ZNA but no I can’t because of school!

    If only I could see her on her delivery (sobbing)…