YYZ Airport Watch Airside Tour:
Hainan Airlines Inaugural 787 to Toronto
After a brutally long an harsh winter, March 31 2014 was a day that finally felt like spring. Crystal clear blue skies, singing birds and seasonal temperatures set the stage for a very memorable airside tour by YYZ Airport Watch at Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport. The inaugural Hainan Airlines (HU/CHH) Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flight from Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK/ZBAA) to Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ/CYYZ) arrived as flight number HU7975. Hainan’s newest Dreamliner, registration B-2731 (c/n 34945/131) operated the flight (delivered on January 16). Hainan is currently operating six Dreamliners with a seventh on order. Hainan is replacing the Airbus A340-600 on the Beijing Toronto route, and expanding operations from three times a week to daily at the end of May. This brings to four the number of scheduled Boeing 787 Dreamliner operators to Toronto: Ethiopian, LOT, British Airways and Hainan. Pearson is now tied for the the highest 787 operating airport in North America, with New York JFK: Aeromexico, LAN, LOT, and Norwegian Air Shuttle. Pearson closely follows Frankfurt and Beijing Capital with six 787 operators, and London Heathrow and Tokyo Narita with five. Air Canada’s introduction of the Dreamliner later this spring will increase Toronto’s 787 operators to five, one of the highest in the world.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority generously provided an exclusive airside tour for 28 lucky members of YYZ Airport Watch to witness the inaugural flight, and to help celebrate the Group’s 10th anniversary of providing free eyes and ears contributing to security at YYZ. It was the first GTAA airside tour of the 2014 season, and tour coordinator Russ Cruickshank was happy to look after such an enthusiastic group as Airport Watch. It made his job of narration much easier, since many of the YYZAW members know almost as much about Pearson as he does. In the opinion of many members this was the best tour GTAA has provided to us, for a number of reasons: perfect weather (something that unfortunately has not been the case with our previous tours), the special accommodations by GTAA, letting us do pretty much anything we requested, and of course the friendly and easy going tour guides! The tour lasted almost 2 hours, and included stopping the bus in the middle of inactive runway 15L to capture the touchdown of the Hainan 787, and an Air Canada 777 immediately before it. We quickly reboarded the bus in time to get to the taxiway where GTAA Fire and Emergency Oshkosh Strikers awaited the flight for the traditional water canon salute. We were also allowed to park on an empty gate beside the Hainan 787 for close up photos of cargo being unloaded, and a group photo as well as on a stand at Terminal 1 for ramp shots of Austrian, Jet Airways. TACA and Air Canada aircraft. All in all it was a most excellent afternoon for the enthusiasts!
Thanks go, of course, to GTAA Airside Tours Director Russ Cruickshank, who has kindly coordinated our special tour requests since 2009, as well as our other GTAA escorts and tour guides: Steve Omand, Aviation Safety Officer, Kimberly Barnes-Robinson, Aviation Liaison Officer (ALO), John Skeaff and David Subocz, Machinery Driver/Operators (MDO) and Darryl Horzelenberg, Manager of Air Service Development. The YYZAW tour participants also thank YYZAW tour coordinator Derek Horsey for his excellent job on getting everyone there on time despite a last minute time change due to early flight arrival. Cudos Derek! Also special thanks to YYZAW member Parr Yonemoto for advising us of a last minute runway change that would otherwise have put us in the wrong place for the prefect landing photos.
Photos and story courtesy of Andrew Cline