"While construction of several major parts has been going on for some months by various suppliers, this is the first visible sign of the assembly process of the new aircraft," explained Air New Zealand General Manager International Airline, Ed Sims.

The spars separate the upper and lower wing surfaces and provide closure at the front and rear of the wing structure forming the fuel tanks in the wing.

Yesterday they were loaded into a giant Automated Spar Assembly Tool (ASAT) where they were drilled and machined in preparation for attachment of the upper and lower wing skins and many other auxiliary fittings.

The spar and wing skin machining processes, including the finishing of 44,000 fasteners which go into each wing, will take about two weeks followed by the mating of the wing skins to the spar.

At this point the shape of the wings will be very clear - and following installation of the many fittings they will eventually be finished off by sealing and painting.

"The first aircraft is scheduled to be painted and have the Air New Zealand livery applied at the end of August, undergo extensive flight testing and be delivered to Air New Zealand in late September," said Mr Sims.

"Between now and then, Boeing workers have a multitude of tasks to complete".

Air New Zealand has acquired eight new Boeing 777-200 ER which will be progressively introduced into the airline's fleet from September 2005 - the first five will be delivered by mid next year and the remaining three by the end of 2006.


ENDS

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs - phone +64 9 336 2761

Pictures available on request.

NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit www.airnewzealand.com and for more information about Star Alliance visit www.staralliance.com.