QANTAS Airways’ third Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will be named after one of Australia’s cutest native animals, the quokka (below).
Unique to Australia and largely found on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth, quokkas are described as the happiest animal on Earth and are even known to enjoy a selfie with tourists.
Quokka was among the most popular suggestions in a national poll of more than 60,000 entries to name the airline’s fleet of eight Dreamliners.
QANTAS International CEO Alison Webster said the quokka and the Flying Kangaroo would make a great team to help entice international visitors to Western Australia, especially as Perth and London will be linked non-stop for the first time.
“Our direct flights between Europe and Australia start in March, so naming our third Dreamliner after a native animal unique to WA seems very fitting,” she said.
“There may be some head scratching moments when people see the name of this aircraft at airports around the world, but a quick internet search will make them immediate quokka converts, and might even encourage them to take a trip,” said Ms Webster.
West Australian Tourism Minister Paul Papalia welcomed the announcement.
“The Quokka, known as the world’s happiest animal, is truly unique to Western Australia,” he said.
“Our pristine Rottnest Island, just a 30-minute ferry ride from Perth, is the only place on the planet where people can mingle with the beloved marsupial. And now the name fittingly sits on the side of a Qantas Dreamliner bringing tourists to our great State.
“We can’t wait to welcome new visitors to Perth, and I know the quokkas will be ready to star in any holiday snaps,” he said.
Quokka, which has the official registration of VH-ZNC, will operate the new Perth to London route as well as other Dreamliner routes to the United States. It is currently undergoing final delivery in Seattle and is expected to land in Australia in late January. Quokka will also be joined by a Dreamliner called Skippy later this year.
QANTAS’ first two Dreamliner aircraft have been named Great Southern Land and Waltzing Matilda. Each name is painted beneath cockpit window. The sequencing of the remaining names will be revealed as the aircraft are delivered.
QANTAS Airways history of naming its aircraft:
People (ourselves included) have a massive soft spot for aircraft. So it’s no surprise that these magnificent machines have been given endearing nicknames over the years.
Out of sheer practicality, airlines (and aviation authorities) give each aircraft a unique registration to help tell them apart.
In Australia these all start with VH and within large fleets, tend to follow a clear pattern. We recycle the regos of our aircraft, so when a plane is retired, the rego is reused for another aircraft in the fleet.
Our first A380, for instance, was given the registration VH-OQA. The second one was OQB. And so on through the alphabet.
Plane spotters will tell you to look for the rego painted on the rear of the fuselage, on the top of the tail and on the front landing gear doors. There’s often a plate inside the door as you step on board.
A Lockheed Super Constellation
At QANTAS, we give individual aircraft names as well. And to be honest, this is purely for sentimental and symbolic reasons.
In the 1920s, three of our first aircraft – small props that flew mail runs across outback Queensland – were given the lofty and mythical names of Perseus, Pegasus and Iris.
Our Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft (which, as an aircraft type, went by simple abbreviation, Connies) all had the prefix “Southern” in their names – including Southern Sky and Southern Sea. When the jet age arrived our Boeing 707s and the early 747s were named after Australia’s capital cities and major centers.
This tradition continued with the Boeing 747-400 fleet. The first of them was called the City of Canberra, and was the aircraft that did the record-breaking 20 hour delivery flight non-stop from London to Sydney. (It’s now in retirement at an aviation museum south of Sydney). All of the -400s were also given a secondary name – Longreach.
A clever QANTAS staff member suggested Longreach to not only recognize the Queensland town where QANTAS first started but also the plane’s incredible range.
The City of Canberra – our first Boeing 747-400 now in retirement at an aviation museum in Wollongong
Our 737-400s (the last of which was retired in 2014) were named after Australian birds – lorikeet, kookaburra, brolga…you get the idea).
The 737-800s, which today do the bulk of our domestic flying, are named after Australian towns (Tamworth, Port Douglas, Oodnaddatta). The exception are the 737s dedicated to flying between Australia and New Zealand, which are mostly named for prominent Kiwis (like Sir Edmund Hillary).
Our 12-strong Airbus A380 fleet are named after pioneering figures of Australian aviation such as Nancy Bird-Walton who became the country’s first female commercial pilot and Reginald Ansett – the founder of Ansett Airlines which started flying in 1936. The founders of QANTAS also have A380s named in their honour.
All photos by QANTAS Airways.
QANTAS Airways aircraft slide show: