Thursday, August 04, 2005
There are press conferences and there are press conferences, and there are events and there are other events. At some pressers Anil Ambani decalres his love for certain CNBC reporters (after beating up a NDTV one), but at some pressers you are taken on board the world's longest range plane, sit on a business class seat and observe the clouds below. Then you discover that PTI has flashed a picture of yours on the wires sitting on the seat while trying to work out the In-Flight Entertainment system (75 movies! It beats the hell out of Singapore Airlines IFE and I thought that was good).
Anyway, someone asked for a descriptive report, so here goes the rest.
Despite leaving at around 6.40 in the morning and a ten-minute drive to the Hyatt (I love the empty roads) instead of the usual 20. Me and some other hacks then were ferried to the international terminal of IGI Airport. I ended up having a good brekker of scrambled eggs and pooris at one the lounges at the terminal. OK, maybe I'm being too descriptive. I was talking to Dinesh Keskar, Boeing's veep for International Sales, who hails from Pune and we just chatted on government orders and bureaucracy, corruption, and this plane. Being one of Boeing's top salespersons he waxed eloquently about range, performance of his company's product and how Airbus is evil incarnate. In fact to show off the planes better and much wider interiors, they actually have a dummy Airbus interior inside this plane, the Boeing B777-200LR aka 'The Worldliner'. After that I started chatting with Mark Hooper, Boeing's top PR pointman for Asia and evntually we got to the plane.
And what a plane. It looked beautiful in the morning light (It was almost 9.30 by the time we got to the plane) the combination of blues merging wonderfully. But the engines, the engines. They are 128-inches in diameter. Thats huge, and they churn out tremendous power. The other pilots, especially those on Jet Airways could be visibly seen leching at the plane. They'll get their 777-200LR's in 2007.
Anyway, I got in first and grabbed a seat in the first row of the business class section. Five feet of legroom, a seat that goes totally flat (with some 15 motors) and the customary 7.5" LCD screen. Anyway, after the rest of the desi media (who understand jackshit about planes) kept pestering the Boeing guys with questions such as passenger capacity, range etc (all answers in the kit) I laid back and enjoyed the show.
Which began with the most dramatic takeoff I have ever experienced, we took off using less than a third of Delhi's runway 28. This plane just rocketed up. I later found out that the pilots had put on full-power (for a plane with no cargo and only 50-odd people, carrying a tenth of its potential payload) and in no time we were halfway to Jaipur.
Anyway, all in all even though I'm tired right now. I had a great day. Enjoy the pics, which again you can click to enlarge.