Qantas’ ‘Queen of the Skies’ returns
03/07/2018 | Author: Annabel Hepworth, The Australian
The flag carrier will switch the 747 jumbo jet onto particular flights between Perth and Sydney from late this month until mid-September.
The move presents an interesting opportunity for aviation aficionados who could fly on the 747 without having to do an international haul.
It comes as Qantas plans to retire its 747s by the end of 2020, which many consider to be the end of an era. The airline has been able to accelerate the retirement of the 747 as it has ordered more of the 787 Dreamliner, which is already flying the new Perth to London non-stop route.
The 747 has not been doing the east-west route for the airline since 2013.
A Qantas spokesman said the move comes as the airline undergoes “one of the biggest” pilot training programs in its history.
“The introduction of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has seen pilots promoted onto this new aircraft, requiring training for them as well as the pilots who move up through the ranks to replace the role these pilots previously held,” the spokesman said.
“Fortunately, the flexibility of our fleet allows us to minimise disruptions to customers.”
The transcontinental flights on the iconic 747 would replace some Airbus 330 services. The A330 will instead be put on a once-daily Perth to Singapore service, which is currently done twice-daily by a smaller a Boeing 737. As part of the switching up of fleet that will last a few months, some services on Melbourne-Auckland flight will go from an A330 to a 737 and some Sydney-Hong Kong services will be on the superjumbo A380 rather than the 747. Some of the Sydney-Honolulu flights will be on a 747 instead of the A330.
A Qantas spokesman said that a new 737 simulator was allowing aircraft trainers to themselves be trained. At the same time, the carrier expected to invest in an extra 787 simulator “to assist with training more of its pilots to operate the new aircraft”.
The Australian revealed earlier this year that Qantas’s regional arm wanted to be able to bring in simulator instructors from overseas for a longer time than is allowed under the skilled visa program.