December 23, 2012 | bevel wise
A month ago, our own Immaculate Flight Seattle team had the absolute pleasure of taking care of Boeing’s newest 787 aircraft just before its delivery ceremony to Middle East carrier Qatar Airways. This is the story of them cleaning the Dreamliner. . .
Here in Seattle, we received the call from Boeing asking us if we could handle a special request to clean up an aircraft. When we found out it was the Qatar 787, we knew the occasion was very special indeed. Boeing was in the countdown to a planned delivery ceremony that was to be the official unveiling of the aircraft and signaled the first Dreamliner airframe to be delivered to the Middle East. In addition, the ceremony kicked off the first in a series of 30 aircraft deliveries for Qatar Airways, as well as an additional 30 options with a total market value of $13.5 billion USD for the carrier!
A brief background: For most of us, the Dreamliner ushers in a new era in flying thanks to its airy cabin spaces and passenger friendly features that promise many firsts, including higher humidity in the cabin that makes flying more enjoyable for passengers and crews alike. The Qatar team explained to us on our tour that the advancement of higher humidity is unique since most moisture is a dreaded enemy for traditional aluminum airframes; however, Boeing’s ingenuous usage of composite materials that don’t corrode meant that higher moisture levels were attainable and make flying in the aircraft more comfortable for passengers.
In addition, Boeing engineers were able to lower the cabin’s pressure to 6,000 feet above sea level, down from the standard 8,000 feet found in most jetliners in the sky today. The end result is less passenger fatigue, dry eyes, headaches, and even reduced jet lag. Considering the fact the Dreamliner is capable of flying 8,000nm non-stop; all of these features will make it love at first flight!
Arriving onto the Boeing’s BFI property just 48 hours before the delivery ceremony; we drove up and found Qatar’s brand new Dreamliner sitting idle on the massive West Test Flight Ramp. Sporting a stunning livery of gray and white that covers all 186 feet of the aircraft; your eyes immediately fixate onto the massive 56ft tail that has the maroon Oryx logo that has become so iconic of Qatar Airways. Being the national animal of the country, the gazelle like figure only enhances the beauty of the aircraft and rides with pride above the engineering marvel of the wings.
It’s no doubt many of you have seen these wings before; however, they still amaze us, and by measuring in at 197ft in total length they give us a lot to look at! One feature was the wing’s well known gentle upward effect that make it look as if the Dreamliner is yearning to float off the ground by itself. Seemingly, the only thing keeping them attached to the aircraft are the twin GE GEnx-1B engines that are an incredible 9ft in diameter inside! This effect however, provided a challenge requiring us to move upward in our lifts as we cleaned the wing itself adding additional time (time well spent though).
In addition, we we knew the overall size of the Dreamliner would be a challenge that required the usage of multiple lifts and harness systems to reach every surface. In the past however, we’ve handled large aircraft before and understood the requirements and risks.
One thing many of our existing customers already know is that as aircraft cleaners and detailers, we clean EVERY surface on the exterior of the aircraft BY HAND for every aircraft. Being that the Dreamliner is no different than any other “customer”, that meant we’d be cleaning the Dreamliner be hand over every surface of the exterior, including the aircraft’s massive landing gear before the ceremony. With that, our tight 48-hour deadline before the ceremony came into light. We were able to spring into action after the Boeing team so kindly placed the aircraft indoors away from the ever present Seattle rain. . .
When parked, we came upon a rare spot for aircraft cleaners to be working: Behind the massive white screen that would fall to reveal the completed aircraft during the ceremony!
Knowing our looming deadline was coming; we tried to accomplish as much work as possible and split up into two teams: the exterior team, and the interior team. . .
On the inside hidden from view, we’re met with the pronounced arching entryway that gives way to a spacious feeling only dreamed of on most aircraft flying a few years ago. In addition, natural light flows into the cabin thanks to over 80 windows that are 19’’ high (a full 65% larger than typical aircraft windows).
While Qatar and Boeing employees busily worked towards placing every last detail on-board the Dreamliner including pillows, magazines, and safety cards; we continued alongside and cleaned every surface including each seat in the aircraft’s cabin (all 254 of them)!
At each seat, we found a cloth covered slim-line seat that features the brand new Thales In-Flight Entertainment System that boasts screens sized of 10.1’’ in economy and a sizable 17.3’’ in the business cabin. All in all, the interior is full of small marks of beauty including dark hardwood flooring and cabinetry, fully lie-flat seats in the business cabin, a walk up bar, as well as the famous dimmable windows throughout the cabin.
Time seemed to fly by since after only two days worth of work; we found ourselves looking on at a newly cleaned Dreamliner just 17 hours from the delivery ceremony.
It was great to relax for a moment and look on as Qatar employees and executives began a pre-show tour of the aircraft, each with their eyes glued at the sight of their new pride and joy. And if the camera flashes were any indication of the excitement in the air, you’d be blown away by the smiles as the hanger lights began dimming for lighting checks. Just before they dimmed though, we managed to snap our last picture (below) and pulled our van out of the massive hanger leaving behind a very clean 787. . .
It’s interesting to note that the event marked only the second time US and International Media has seen the Qatar branded 787; however, the ceremony marked the first time they had been allowed access into the interior of the aircraft.
After the delivery ceremony on November 13th, Qatar Airways pilots along with CEO Akbar Al Baker and 100 very lucky passengers took the Dreamliner to the Middle East for the first time. . . Non-stop from Seattle!
We’d like to say a special thanks to our new friends at Qatar Airways, as well as the team at Boeing’s Flight Testing Department for their hospitality and care. Cleaning the Dreamliner was a privilege we know many will never experience; however, we look forward to working with both of you well into the future on keeping your aircraft looking great!