x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Boeing makes more room for flydubai

Flydubai is the launch customer for an enhanced 737-800 that Boeing touts as including a 'major makeover' of the cabin interior.

Kent Craver, left, the regional director at Boeing, and Kenneth Gile, the chief operating officer of flydubai, inside the airline's new 737.
Kent Craver, left, the regional director at Boeing, and Kenneth Gile, the chief operating officer of flydubai, inside the airline's new 737.

For Boeing's best-selling 737 airliner, which has experienced relatively few design changes since its debut 42 years ago, bigger lockers, better lighting and enhanced window fittings that let in more light constitute major surgery.

The intention is to make the interior feel roomier and more comfortable for passengers.

Last week, flydubai became the launch customer for an enhanced 737-800 that Boeing touts as including a "major makeover" of the cabin interior.

The new look, called "Sky Interiors", is the latest tweak to the inside of Boeing's most popular aircraft. More than 6,350 737s have been delivered since it was introduced in 1968.

The effect seems to be similar to that of the famous TARDIS in the television programme Doctor Who.

"I don't know how you did it but it looks like, from inside, you made the fuselage bigger," commented Kenneth Gile, the chief operating officer of flydubai, during a handover ceremony in Seattle last week.

The new interior is optional and costlier than the conventional layout. The decision by flydubai to become the launch customer has underscored its commitment to investing in its products to gain an edge on the growing competition.

"It fits our identity," said Mick Hills, the head of maintenance and engineering for flydubai, Dubai's budget carrier.

Many of the innovations were lifted from Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner programme.

Mr Hills said Sky Interiors also had practical advantages.

The layout is easier to keep dust-free and the new LED lights, which allow passengers to simulate day, night, sunrise and sunset, should require less maintenance.

"The old fluorescent tubes are typically one of the highest-usage items on board the aircraft," Mr Hills said

This is the second time flydubai has been a launch customer for an airline product. That is unusual in the industry, which is generally risk averse and sticks with tried-and-tested methods.

The latest inflight entertainment system for flydubai will be supplied by Lumexis and flydubai's investment in that product breaks a long-held duopoly maintained by Panasonic and Thales.

Kent Craver, the regional director of passenger satisfaction and revenue at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said Boeing created Sky Interiors to enhance the passenger experience.

"The bottom line is, passengers are bored when they sit on an airplane," he said at the handover ceremony. "Humans are fascinated with flight but we really don't like flying today.

"We wanted to somehow use the airplane to reconnect people to the wonder and magic of flight."

igale@thenational.ae