Every now and then, a company gets the unique chance (some people would even call it ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’) to stand out from its direct competitors. If that company happens to be the 2nd biggest Belgian airline Jetairfly and is taking delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, there’s no better way to introduce the aircraft to all of its stakeholders than by actually inviting them on a real flight, and to let them experience the service and comfort onboard the aircraft itself.
That’s why Jetairfly decided to organize a big ‘Dreamliner Event’ on December 10th 203, only less than a week after the aircraft arrived at Brussels Airport (BRU/EBBR) following a long delivery flight, and just 2 days after its entry into commercial service on a service to Malaga (AGP/LEMG). Jetairfly invited their employees (including B787 project team members), journalists, travel agents, business partners, frequent flyers and avgeeks for this unique event, which included two ‘Dreamflights’: a flight from Brussels to Ostend (OST/EBOS) via Liege Airport (LGG/EBLG) in the morning, and a flight back from Ostend to Brussels via Charleroi (CRL/EBCI) in the afternoon. In between both flights, a party lunch would be organized in the OST main terminal building. This is how the planning looked like:
- 10:45 – 11:45 LT / JAF9201 / B787 OO-JDL / BRU-OST via LGG
- Party lunch at OST
- 14:45 – 15:45 LT / JAF9202 / B787 OO-JDL / OST-BRU via CRL
A few weeks ahead of this unique event (and only a few days after I had booked a one-way ticket for the first commercial flight of the Jetairfly Dreamliner), I was very pleased to be invited by Jetairfly on both Dreamflights. This meant I would fly 3 times on the brand new Dreamliner in just 3 days…
Jetairfly JAF9201 BRU-OST via LGG (Brussels to Ostend via Liege)
- Date: Tuesday December 10th 2013
- Flight: JAF9201 BRU-OST via LGG
- Aircraft Type: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
- Registration: OO-JDL
- Seat: 6J (Premium Club)
- STD / ATD: 10:45 / 11:20 LT (GMT+1)
- STA / ATA: 11:45 / 13:06 LT (GMT+1)
Having just recovered from my very first Dreamliner experience two days before, I left home early that Tuesday morning. After dropping of my son in school, I was already driving my car to the airport again for my second flight onboard Jetairfly’s Dreamliner OO-JDL. Even though this time it was a typical Tuesday morning rush hour and there were quite some traffic jams on the Belgian highways (some invitees got delayed by as much as two hours), I managed to arrive at BRU around 08:30 (which was good, since the registration for this special day would take place between 08:30 and 09:00).
During registration, all invitees received their boarding pass(es), a special Dreamliner badge, a car park voucher and a special pass to access the Fast Lane at the security control. Registration appeared to be a bit chaotic at a certain moment, as some invitees received a boarding pass for another flight than the one they had been invited for (or just one flight instead of two) or were not on the guestlist at all. Fortunately, the Jetairfly customer support agents were very helpful to assist all invitees and were able to find a proper solution for every guest.
After succesful registration, I made my way through the security control (using my Fast Lane pass), and around 09:50 I finally arrived at gate A45 at the A Pier. As I arrived, I noticed that many guests were already enjoying a tasty and healthy breakfast of croissants, orange juice, coffee and fresh fruit. The breakfast proved to be an ideal opportunity to meet with some other aviation professionals and enthusiasts that were invited for this event, as well as talk to some Jetairfly employees I know. In the meantime, the organizers of the event had announced to delay the flight BRU-OST with 30 minutes, as some guests were still stuck in the huge traffic jams around Brussels. A very thoughtful gesture of Jetairfly…
Finally, around 10:50 boarding for the first Dreamflight began. As my boarding pass did not have a seat number but menioned ‘STBY’, I had to wait a bit before I could board the Dreamliner. Eventually though I was assigned seat 6G in the Premium Club class. Whilst boaring, it appeared that somebody else had already taken this seat. However, since the window seat next to him was still free (6J), I was advised by Jetairfly staff to take that window seat instead.
Doors were closed around 11:10, and after being welcomed on the PA by cabin crew and flight crew, the aircraft pushed back and both engines were started at the same time (one of the many new features of the Dreamliner). One of the pilots was Jetairfly Director of Flight Operations (DFO) Capt. Berger, who also flew the aircraft to BRU on its delivery flight from Everett. During taxi to RWY 25R, the cabin crew gave the mandatory safety demo and some more information about the Dreamliner was announced through the PA by the pilots on the flightdeck.
Finally, at 11:20 the Dreamliner’s two thrust levers were advanced and the aircraft started rolling down the runway. Few moments later we rotated gently off RWY 25R, and after we gained some altitude, we made a smooth left turn to prevent overflying the city centre of Brussels. As I sat on the right side, I had some excellent views of downtown Brussels, including the ‘Jubelpark’ and the ‘Berlaymont’ building of the European Commission.
We levelled off at FL70 and continued our way to Liege while enjoying splendid views of the Belgian scenery. Jetair’s Distribution Director Mr Coussement as well as the COO of Jetairfly Mr Hofman welcomed all guests onboard of the Dreamflight and appeared to be very proud to have such a magnificent aircraft in Jetairfly’s fleet. Few moments later we already started our descent into LGG followed by a wonderful low-level pass over RWY 23R and a subtle wave as our flight crew gently banked the Dreamliner to the left and right.
After the fabulous low-level pass, we made another turn and climbed to our new cruising altitude of FL100. As we continued our flight to OST, the guest onboard were invited to explore the aircraft from the front to the back, check the IFE etc. Cabin crew started their service as all guests were offered a nice mini bottle of cava. As I had already walked through the cabin two days before (during its first commercial flight to Malaga), I decided to relax in my seat and enjoy the wonderful outside Belgian scenery on a bright and sunny autumn day.
Once we approached the coastline, we left our cruising altitude and descended to about 3.000 ft. Afterwards there was an announcement that the pilots had to be fully concentrated as they were now flying in formation. At first I did not pay full attention, but few moments later a Cessna C208 Grand Caravan (registration PH-JMP) showed up on our right side. Apparently Jetairfly had arranged an air to air photoshoot for the Dreamliner. A very nice and spectacular surprise on this already unique event. The pilots lowered our speed, and for the next 20 to 30 minutes we made some shallow 360° turns above the North Sea (close to the port of Zeebrugge), to allow the photographers onboard the Cessna to take some wonderful photos and videos of the Dreamliner.
Eventually we headed southwest to OST, overflying the Belgian coastline and still flying in formation by the Cessna photoship. We entered a left-hand downwind leg for OST’s RWY 08 and extended more flaps, followed by lowering the landing gear. Few moments later we were already fully aligned with the runway centreline and made a low-level pass, offering a splendid view of OST airport and its surroundings. After the low-level pass we raised the gear and climbed back to 1.000ft while still remaining in the left-hand circuit. Around 13:00 we made a gentle landing on RWU 08, followed by a loud applause in the cabin.
After the landing, we taxied to our parking position on the OST apron and received a water cannon salute by the airport’s fire brigade. As the aircraft came to a complete stop and both GEnx engines were shut down, we were informed via a PA announcement that we would be able to witness a unique aircraft christening ceremony on the OST apron after disembarking the Dreamliner.
As soon as all guests had left the aircraft and were standing on the apron next to the Dreamliner, Mr Coussement held a short speech on the apron, giving a bit more information about the christening ceremony. He also introduced the new godfather of the aircraft, famous Belgian artist Panamarenko. Few moments later, Panamarenko arrived at the aircraft by car, and the Dreamliner’s christening could begin, together with Jetairfly’s CEO Mr Bruyninckx.
Afterwards there was still some time for all invitees to walk around the aircraft and take plenty of pictures of this Dreamliner under a bright blue sky. Then all guests were kindly invited to the party lunch in the departure hall of Ostend Airport, where Mr Bruyninckx held a short speech, followed by some live music and a very tasty lunch.
Jetairfly JAF9202 OST-BRU via CRL (Ostend to Brussels via Charleroi)
- Date: Tuesday December 10th 2013
- Flight: JAF9202 OST-BRU via CRL
- Aircraft Type: Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
- Registration: OO-JDL
- Seat: 3A (Premium Club)
- STD / ATD: 14:45 / 15:58 LT (GMT+1)
- STA / ATA: 15:45 / 16:55 LT (GMT+1)
In the late afternoon, as the sun was already starting to get lower on the horizon, boarding commenced for the return flight to BRU. Since some of the passengers weren’t on the first Dreamflight and hence didn’t get the chance to take some photos of the aircraft, they were also given a short opportunity to photograph the Jetairfly Dreamliner parked on the OST apron.
Once boarding was completed, we were kindly welcomed again by the cabin crew as well as the flight crew via the PA. Both engines were started at the same time, and shortly after engine startup was completed, we turned away from the apron and taxied our way to RWY 26. Once we entered the RWY, we didn’t backtrack but immediately started our takeoff roll.
Climbout from OST gave us some additional nice views of the Belgian coast, especially now the sun was already starting to set. We climbed to FL90 and followed a straight route to CRL over the cities of Roeselare, Waregem, Oudenaarde and Geraardsbergen.
During the short cruise, Mr Coussement as well as the COO of Jetairfly, Mr Hofman welcomed all passengers again onboard of the flight. Afterwards the cabin crew offered the passengers a nice mini bottle of cava again.
Passengers onboard the Dreamliner were given the opportunity to visit the flightdeck in groups of 4. It was explicitely mentioned that taking photographs with flash would not be allowed. Unfortunately not everybody got the chance to briefly visit the flightdeck whilst inflight, as in the meantime we had already started our descent into CRL. We were informed however that anybody interested would still have the opportunity to visit the flightdeck after landing in BRU.
The approach to CRL went smooth and uneventful. We didn’t do a low pass, but instead the flight crew decided to do a simulated missed approach and perform a go around out of CRL. As could be expected, lots of passengers enjoyed the go around, as the engines spooled up again and we climbed fast out of CRL.
We climbed back to an altitude of 2.500ft and made our way to the approach of BRU’s RWY 25L. The pilots informed us that they would perform a full autoland on the RWY, to showcase the highly advanced capabilities of this new aircraft, even with a visibility of just 75 meters.
Landing on RWY 25L was very gentle, and we made a smooth rollout. As we taxied to stand 145 at the A-pier, we passed 4 JAF 737’s which were all parked remote at the Satellite.
Around 16:55 LT the aircraft came to a complete stop at stand 145 and engines were shut down. On the horizon, the sun had already set and the sky turned out all orange and dark blue. A magnificent ending of an extraordinary day.
I would like to thank everybody at Jetairfly, Jetair and all other companies involved for organizing such a unique Dreamliner Event! Let the dream begin…
More photos are available via my Flickr account.