Why Delta Air Lines took on the Boeing 777 – .

Why Delta Air Lines took on the Boeing 777 – .

Delta’s first Boeing 777 arrived just before the turn of the millennium under a $ 1.4 billion ($ 2.2 billion today) contract for 13 units. The airline would continue to fly 18 such units until last year, but why did the company take it over in the first place? We will take a look.

Long-haul mastery

For decades, Delta had operated its Lockheed L-1011 aircraft on several long-haul routes. The first unit arrived in April 1972, and the Atlanta-based aircraft carrier flew 70 such units and even 65 of them during the same period.

Delta deployed the aircraft well, heading to several important transatlantic locations such as London, Frankfurt, Dublin, Stuttgart, Shannon and Hamburg. The plane has also been seen across the Pacific to Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok and Taipei.

However, as the new century dawned, it was time for a change. Delta had decided it was time to replace these trijets with more modern solutions. The airline had previously owned the proven Boeing 767 and had done well to expand with the aircraft. Still, there was another emerging superstar in the form of the 777.

The 777 was not introduced until 1995, entering service with United Airlines. Interestingly, Delta also had a role to play in development.

She joined United, along with All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Qantas and American Airlines, to share her thoughts during the design phase. Overall, with the aircraft designed for long-haul routes and business travel, Delta has supported it to replace the aging L-1011.

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So it starts

According to the Delta Flight Museum, the first 777-232 arrived at Delta’s Atlanta facility on March 23, 1999. The airline noted that ship 7001 was the first 777 fitted with the carrier’s new BusinessElite cabin which had 52 seats. premium.

The company also showcased its first intercontinental business class with five feet of space between the berths and the unique 2-2-2 configuration in the premium cabin with no middle seats.

Additionally, Delta was excited about the personal IFE in the main cabin, as well as the adjustable footrests, headrests and lumbar supports for the 225 passengers in that section. Technology features included advanced satellite communications, predictive wind shear, collision avoidance systems, and GPS. The aircraft also had an improved ground proximity warning system.

The 777-200ER had a speed of 550 mph (880 km / h) and a range of 7,065 NM (13,084 km). Photo: wilco737 via Flickr

The right fit

Former Delta Air Lines Leo F. Mullin shared the following about the arrival, according to a statement in 1999.

“The Delta 777 is more than a new flagship for our fleet. IT symbolizes our commitment to excellence, leadership in the industry and being the best airline in the eyes of our customers.

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Delta’s teams were also fans of the ease of transition for its crews to pilot the new aircraft. For example, 767 pilots only need 11 days of additional training to fly the 777.

Fred Sandow, who was the manager of the 777 program at the time, added:

“One of the reasons the 777 is so suitable for Delta is the flexibility of this aircraft. As part of the family, the 777 shares the same cockpit, airframe, systems, sares and ground equipment as the other Boeing aircraft in our fleet. This reduces training, operation and maintenance costs.

After the arrival of the first 777s, ship 7002 joined them only six days later. Thus, Delta was ready to take off with its new widebody jets that spring. The pair entered service on the same day – May 1, 1999. Notably, 7001 crossed the Atlantic to London Gatwick from Atlanta. Operations then expanded to London and Frankfurt from Cincinnati and Atlanta, respectively.

The first developments

Despite the good start, in the summer of 1999 Delta announced that it would delay further such deliveries as part of the ongoing pilot contract negotiations. There have been discussions regarding the rates of pay and the working rules related to the aircraft. The 777 service was even suspended on November 1 until the agreement on the employment contract was ratified. The aircraft returned to the sky on December 1 and was soon joined by five additional units that month.

With consistency now in place, Delta subsequently withdrew its last L-1011 in July 2001, marking the end of nearly three decades of operation. Delta showed its confidence in its new vessel with the arrival of the long-range 777-200LR, which has been dubbed “the world’s longest-range commercial aircraft”.

Delta 777-200LR
The 777-200LR entered service in March 2008 between Atlanta and Los Angeles before crossing the Pacific to Japan the following month. Photo: Getty Images

The airline first took delivery of the 9,395 NM (17,370 km) range aircraft, nicknamed “The Delta Spirit” in February 2008. Capable of easily carrying 15 crew members and 276 passengers across continents, Delta was delighted to present the aircraft to Johannesburg and Sydney. With this aircraft, Delta owned 44 fully horizontal ties in BusinessElite. These beds were up to 1.95m long.

Goodbye early

The airline boarded 10 -200LRs between 2008 and 2010 and already had eight -200ERs. It even spent $ 100 million to modernize all planes to include Delta One Suite Business Class and Premium Select International Economy Class.

Despite these investments and the new setups which only debuted a few years ago, the company announced the withdrawal of all units of the type in May 2020. The company said this decision was due to strategic and profitable changes. in the midst of the pandemic. He added that the transition would help him be well positioned for the recovery.

Boeing 777-200LR in flight
Delta retired its 777 on October 31, 2020. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Nonetheless, Delta recognizes the positive impact aircraft have had on its operations for more than two decades. He concludes that the 777 opened up new direct and ultra-long-haul opportunities that only the guy could fly at the time.

What do you think of the Boeing 777 and its operations with Delta Air Lines? Have you ever flown with the airline during their tenure? Let us know what you think of the plane in the comments section.


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