New passenger jets near departure dates

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The Independent Travel

Two state-of-the-art aircraft that will make the flying experience easier and more comfortable for passengers have made important advances on their journey into service with international airlines.

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is to make its first landing in Japan on July 3, at Tokyo's Haneda Airport Terminal 2. Haneda is the main hub of Japan's All Nippon Airways, which is to be the global launch customer of the aircraft.

The aircraft - Boeing's next generation, fuel-efficient passenger jet - will later go on to visit several other airports around Japan in order to test operations and facilities before it goes into service on a commercial basis.

Much thought has gone into the passengers' experience during the flight, with the interior designed to better meet the needs of people with mobility and sensory disabilities, including better access to lavatories for people in wheelchairs.

The aircraft has larger cabin windows than other aircraft and glass that dims automatically to do away with the need for window shades.

The airline is presently scheduled to take delivery of the Dreamliner in August or September, considerably behind the original schedule of deploying the aircraft in May 2008.

The aircraft seats between 234 and 296 passengers, uses 20 percent less fuel than the similarly sized Boeing 767. The longest-range variant is able to fly up to 15,700 km - the equivalent of Los Angeles to Bangkok or Taipei to New York.

At the ongoing Paris Airshow, at Le Bourget, ANA has unveiled a special livery for the first two Dreamliners that will join its fleet. The numbers 787 are painted in bold blue characters at the front of the fuselage, with a darker blue than ANA usually uses for the rear sections and the tailplane.

ANA has ordered 55 of the aircraft for its international and domestic routes.

Not to be outdone at the Paris Airshow, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. has announced a partnership with Boeing on its equally advanced, but smaller, Mitsubishi Regional Jet.

The agreement covers customer support and services and is another milestone in the launch of the first passenger aircraft to be built by a Japanese company since the mid-1970s.

The aircraft is due to be airborne in 2014 and could revolutionize short-haul flying in the burgeoning Asian leisure market, Mitsubishi said.

With a range of 3,250 km, the MRJ is the ideal aircraft for a Pacific island-hopper or for meeting the needs of the tourism industry by linking customers in Japan, South Korea and the growing Chinese market with resort destinations such as Guam.

Passengers are also being given all the comfort of a far larger aircraft in a small package, according to Mitsubishi, with more head and foot room and larger overhead storage bins. The cabin is usually configured to have two seats either side of the aisle, although it can be altered to include a first-class section with three seats abreast.

The designers are also proud of the new, slimmer seats, which are made of a unique, three-dimensional net fabric that makes them thinner than their predecessors and gives passengers more leg room.

All Nippon Airways will again be the launch customer for the aircraft and has already ordered 15 of the $40 million jets, with an option for a further 10.