The first Airbus A220-300 regional airliner for Qantas subsidiary QantasLink departed Mirabel in Canada on 17 December on its delivery flight to Australia.
The aircraft – painted in a striking green First Nations art colour scheme – arrived in Vancouver on Sunday at the end of the first of four delivery flight legs that will see it also stop at Honolulu and Nadi before arriving in Sydney later this week.
The aircraft made its first flight in early December and, after a few manufacturer check-flights, was handed over to Qantas by manufacturer Airbus at its Mirabel facility near Montreal on 15 December.
The A220 will replace the Boeing 717 in the QantasLink fleet and will be a regular visitor to Canberra.
Originally developed as the CSeries by Bombardier in Canada, Airbus took a majority stake in the program after a 2017 trade dispute between Canada and the US and a number of financial bailouts of the program by the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial governments.
The CSeries was designed to be built in two models, the CS100 and CS300 with 100 and 130 seats respectively – now designated the A220-100 and A220-300. There are some 850 A220s in service or on order worldwide, and they are replacing airliners such as the 717, Fokker 70 and 100, Embraer E170/175/190, older Boeing 737-200/300/500/600/700 series and Airbus A318/A319 models, and other jet airliners in the 100-150-seat category.
QantasLink’s A220s have a range of 6390 kilometres – more than twice that of the 717s they will replace, while using 25 per cent less fuel and emissions. The aircraft will be configured with 137 seats including 10 business class and 127 economy class.
“These aircraft have the potential to change the way our customers travel across the country, with the ability to connect any two cities or towns in Australia,” Qantas Group CEO Vanessa Hudson said in a release.
“That means faster and more convenient travel for business trips and exciting new possibilities for holiday travel. A whole new fleet type also means a lot of opportunities for our people to operate and look after these aircraft.”
The first aircraft’s striking paint scheme is named Minyama Kutjara Tjukurpa, and it is the sixth Qantas jet airliner in the airline’s Flying Art Series. It was designed by senior Pitjantjatjara artist Maringka Baker in conjunction with indigenous Australian design agency Balarinji.
“Balarinji is proud to have worked with Maringka and her family, Tjungu Palya Arts Centre, Copyright Agency, Qantas and Airbus to create this beautiful aircraft,” Balarinji Co-Founder and Managing Director Ros Moriarty said.
“The art aircraft collection is a great example of how we can experience the strength, integrity and beauty of Aboriginal culture through best practice collaboration with artists and communities.”
Six more A220s are scheduled to be delivered by mid-2025 and all 29 currently on order will be delivered by 2027. In the meantime, the 717s will all be retired by July 2024, and leased Alliance Airlines Embraer E190s will fill the gap until the A220s arrive in numbers.
Original Article published by Andrew McLaughlin on Riotact.