Tanzania's maiden Dreamliner aircraft is set to land at the Julius Nyerere International Airport on Sunday, having delayed its delivery by a day.
The plane successfully underwent its runway test flight at the Paine field in Seattle, Washington last week and will be accompanied by executives from its manufacturers Boeing and its Trent engine manufacturer, Rolls-Royce.
They are expected to be received by Tanzania’s President John Magufuli.
The aeroplane will have completed a 22-hour flight through Europe to fuel.
Air Tanzania’s new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will be powered by the latest version of the Trent 1000 TEN (Thrust, Efficiency and New Technology).
This engine will power all three versions of the Boeing 787 and offers up to three per cent lower fuel burn than its competitors.
The engine helps the Dreamliner to achieve 20 per cent greater efficiency than the aircraft it replaces, as well as halving the noise footprint of previous-generation aircraft.
The plane, christened “Kilimanjaro-Hapa kazi tu,” will now see Air Tanzania start operating intercontinental routes to Mumbai starting in September.
Change in fortunes
This will signal a change in fortunes for the country’s national carrier, revived barely two years ago, as it seeks to play a bigger role in the regional aviation market, which is dominated by Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda.
A fortnight ago, the airlines commercial and business development director Patrick Ndekana said the Dreamliner aircraft will fly to Mumbai three times a week — its first flight outside the continent.
In March, Air Tanzania said that the 787 Dreamliner will be its flagship aircraft as it renews and grows its fleet.
The Air Tanzania fleet improvement programme, which The EastAfrican has seen, includes purchase of six aircraft including three Bombardier DASH8 Q400s — two of which were delivered in September 2016, and which it now uses for its domestic routes between Dar es Salaam and the Comoros islands, Mwanza, Kigoma and Mtwara.
It also received one Bombardier DASH8 Q400 in June last year. The plan shows that by July, Air Tanzania should be operating a fleet of seven aircraft as it has been operating one Bombardier DASH8 Q300 since 2011.
The airline will also be receiving two more new Bombardier CS300s after the country’s flight agency finalised purchase agreements with American manufacturer Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Canada's Bombardier Inc.
Two years ago, Tanzania decided to develop a programme for revamping its national carrier, which included buying six new aircraft between 2016 and 2018, payment of debts and provision of start-up capital, improvement and modernisation of business systems.
**Article corrected to reflect the plane was to arrive on Sunday and not Monday as had been stated here.