December 2009 - Posts
The Boeing commercial airplanes division here in the Puget Sound is on
their annual two-week winter break that started on Christmas Eve and
will extend until Monday, 4 January 2010. During the time off, there
will be limited flight activity other than a few oddball deliveries and
a few 787 test flights. So I figure now is the best time to look ahead
at what 2010 will bring for the Boeing company.
Boeing Renton / Seattle (Boeing 737NG)
2010 will see the introduction of Boeing’s new “Sky Interior” on select
737NG’s, which will debut with Norwegian Air Shuttle, flyDubai, Lion
Air and Qantas, among others, starting in June. Goodrich’s carbon fiber
disk brakes for the 737NG, which reduce 318 kg (700 lbs) of weight,
will also debut on select 737NG’s, namely on all six of flyDubai’s
737-800’s they’ll take delivery of in 2010.
Even after nearly 250 deferrals in 2009, Boeing has been reluctant to
further reduce the production rate of the 737NG in 2010. Currently, 31
737NG’s roll out of the Renton factory a month. In comparison,
competitor Airbus rolls out 34 A32X aircraft a month our of their
Hamburg Finkenwerder factory.
The heavy hitters in 2010 for the 737NG line will be Ryanair taking the
top spot with 48 737-800’s with American Airlines close behind with 40
737-800’s to be delivered in the New Year. The Chinese airlines that
have dominated much of the 737NG production for the past two years will
slow down as the order backlog is completed. AirTran has ten remaining
737-700 slots, which have historically been sold upon delivery to Arik
Air. Arik became notorious in 2009 for long deferrals and cancellations
upon scheduled delivery of Boeing aircraft.
The 737-900ER will be introduced to at least three airlines in 2010,
with Azerbaijan Airlines, Korean Airlines and Travel Service. Lion Air,
the largest operator of the 739ER, will take 12 of the type in the New
As an aircraft spotter, the 737NG’s I’m personally looking forward to
are as follows: Aerolineas Argentinas with one 737-700; Atlant-Soyuz
with two 737-800’s; Air Austral with two 737-800’s; AeroMexico with ten
737-700’s; SKY Airlines with one 737-900ER; Qantas (JetConnect) with
three 737-800’s; and Ukraine International with two 737-800’s.
Boeing Everett (Boeing 747, 767, 777 & 787)
In response to the volatile wide body market, the production rate of
the 777 will fall from seven planes a month to five starting in June
2010. Due to the production cuts, Boeing Everett could see up to 1500
workers laid off as a result. In 2009, Boeing laid off 4500 workers
from it’s Everett plant, many of them being engineers that worked on
the 787, as part of a company wide effort to reduce costs.
The 777 line will see a few new operators in 2010 with Arik Air and
Ethiopian Airlines receiving 777-200LR’s and EgyptAir with 777-300ER’s.
British Airways and Air New Zealand will also take delivery of their
first 777-300ER’s in 2010. Qatar will receive their first 777 Freighter
this upcoming year as well.
The 767 line is still alive (sort of) with deliveries in 2010 slated
for ANA, DHL-UK, JAL, and LAN Chile. The production rate of the 767 is
still at one plane per month with a backlog of 63 planes left as of
January 2010. The United States Air Force's decision on whether to choose the Boeing KC-767 or Northrop Grumman/Airbus KC-45 to replace their aging fleet or KC-135's tankers will be announced in mid-2010. If Boeing wins the contract, this could keep the 767 line alive for many years to come.
Oh, I almost forgot, that new plastic plane – the, uh, 787 Dreamliner. Boeing’s target is to deliver 25 787’s starting in the third
quarter if all goes well during the very short time allocated for
flight testing. ANA will take delivery of the first 787, with JAL and
Ethiopian among the first airlines to fly the 787 in commercial
service. A fourth 747 Large Cargo Freigter (LCF) will be introduced in early 2010 to support the increasing demand for the 787. LCF #4 is currently in Taipei already fully assembled and painted in full colours with a tail number of N718BA.
The 747-8F will fly early this year, sometime in mid January according
to recent reports, with the first delivery scheduled for the third
quarter of 2010. Unlike recent flight test programs, Boeing will
conduct the initial flight testing out of Grant County International
Airport (MWH) and later at Palmdale Regional Airport (PDM), where 767
and 757 flight testing was done from in the early 1980’s. Information
on the 747-8 Intercontinental has been sketchy, however, from what I
gather the first flight is not due until early 2011 with deliveries
scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2011.
I went down to Boeing Field today to catch an AirNav LearJet and ended up catching a 787. While waiting for the learjet on a sunny Seattle afternoon, I got a flight aware alert text message on my phone saying that BOE001 (787 Line No. 1) was due to depart 1400 local time to PAE [perform a touch and go there] and then head back to BFI. I later learned that the flight was originally due to depart at noon and the plan was to go to Grant County International Airport (MWH) in Eastern Washington to do a touch and go. The sunset in Seattle this time of year is at 1625 Pacific standard time. Boeing test flights normally never fly under the cover of darkness and especially so when the plane is still an experimental.
BOE001 left at 1450 local time and departed to the south off of Boeing Field's runway 13R. The rotation point was about 5100' (1554 meters) as they were followed out by by a Boeing Company CT-33 chase plane. After contacting Seattle Departure, they made a left hand turn heading North. I didn't follow the Boeing Telemetry room frequency on 123.325 Mhz very closely, but I did hear them cycle the landing gear, use autopilot and use the de-icing systems. The maximum ground speed reached was 258 knots with a maximum altitude of 15,000 feet (4600 meters), according to flight aware's tracking log.
After and hour and fifty minutes aloft, BOE001 returned to Boeing Field on a visual approach landing at 1640, never performing a touch and go at Paine Field. This was probably because of the low light at the time and not because of a mechanical problem.
This week saw many deliveries due to the two week, company wide winter break the Boeing Commercial Airplanes division takes every year. The break started this year on Christmas Eve and will extend through 4 January 2010. However, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight test crew didn't get this time off and were back on the job starting the day after Christmas.
Boeing Seattle (BFI):
- 21DEC09 - Air China B-5486 (cn 36748/3127), a 737-89L.
- 21DEC09 - Lion Air PK-LGQ (cn 35733/3135), a 737-9GPER.
- 21DEC09 - American N820NN (cn 29559/3125), a 737-823.
- 21DEC09 - Virgin Blue VT-VUT (cn 36608/3132), a 737-8FE.
- 21DEC09 - WestJet C-GWSQ (cn 37091/3134), a 737-7CT.
- 21DEC09 - Norwegian Air Shuttle LN-NOI (cn 36820/3131), a 737-86N.
- 22DEC09 - Air India Express VT-AYD (36340/3122), a 737-8HG.
- 23DEC09 - Garuda Indonesia PK-GMF (cn 30140/3129), a 737-8U3.
- 23DEC09 - GOL PR-GGU (cn 37597/3133), a 737-8EH.
- 23DEC09 - GOL PR-GGV (cn 37598/3136), a 737-8EH.
- 24DEC09 - JAL Express JA324J (cn 35353/3105), a 737-846.
- 24DEC09 - JAL Express JA325J (cn 35354/3117), a 737-846.
Boeing Everett (PAE):
- 21DEC09 - EVA Air B-16715 (cn 33757/810), a 777-35EER.
- 22DEC09 - EVA Air B-16716 (cn 32642/822), a 777-35EER.
- 22DEC09 - Qatar Airways A7-BBE (cn 36017/837), a 777-2DZLR.
- 23DEC09 - Aerologic D-AALC (cn 36003/836), a 777-FZN.
There are a few noteworthy mentions about this weeks past deliveries. The Air India Express delivery out of Boeing Seattle was the last plane on the order backlog of the 737NG for the airline. These airplanes were always a favourite among Boeing Field spotters due to their individual and unique tail art. Out of Boeing Everett, we saw two EVA Air deliveries, but they did not "fly away" as most deliveries do. According to a local Paine Field spotter, these planes will get interior work done at a local maintenance facility for some time before they fly away to Taipei for final delivery to the airline.
Today at 0900 local time, the second 787 Dreamliner took to the skies off of runway 34R at Paine Field as "Boeing 002 Heavy Experimental." They were accompanied by a lone CT-33 chase plane, N416X, for an expected hour long test flight that would end at Boeing Field. During the test flight, BOE002 experienced a minor mechanical problem with the landing gear, and while on Seattle Approach inbound for arrival at BFI, it was decided that the chase plane take a closer look at the problem. BOE002, at that point known by ATC as "Boeing 002 Heavy Experimental flight of two," flew a holding pattern over JAWBN while the chase plane looked in detail at the indicated landing gear problem.
Regardless of the issues, BOE002 landed safely and smoothly at BFI shortly after 1100 to a large crowd of aviation spotters and spectators. BOE002 rolled all the way to the end of the runway and parked at the bravo ten intersection infront of the Museum of Flight while ground crews inspected the mechanical problem for nearly fifteen minutes before taxiing to the Boeing Flightline.
I got this question the other day and thought I'd make a post out of it.
On the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems ramp, or better known as the military ramp, we have the following:
- N358BJ (cn 33542/1232) – Royal Australian Air Force 737-7ES
- N356BJ (cn 33962/1614) - Boeing 737-7ES AEW&C Peace Eagle for
Turkish Air Force
- N757A (cn 22212/1) – This is the very first 757-200 and is currently
used for F-22 flight research.
- 73-1674 (cn 21046/901) – USAF JE-3C. This is on loan from the USAF to Boeing IDS for electronics testing.
You may have noticed the absence of a few RAAF Wedgetails.
Well two of those, N359BJ and N378BC, left BFI on 9APR09 and 6NOV09,
respectively, and are currently in Australia. The only RAAF Wedgetail left at Boeing Field is the very first
AEW&C, N358BJ, which should be in Australia by the end of January 2010.
The very first P-8A, registered with the US Navy as 167951
(cn 34394/2599), is inside the Boeing Seattle 3-390 building at Boeing
Field. I have recorded this plane performing three test flights since the
airplanes first flight, which was on 25 April 2009. The callsign on these test
flights has been “SCORE 85” and is flown by US Navy pilots.
Airworthy P-8A number two and three, 167953 (cn
34396/2814) and 167954 (cn 34397/2931), respectively, are inside the 9-101
building, or better known as Boeing flight developmental centere across the street
from the Boeing military ramp. Both of these aircraft have not flown since their first flights. All three P-8A's currently at Boeing Field are due to transfer to NAS Patuxent River in Maryland for further flight testing with the US Navy in mid 2010.
And last, the very first
Republic of Korea Air Force AEW&C "Peace Eye", N735JS (cn 34700/2822), inside the 3-390 Building getting modifications installed. The second
RoKAF AEW&C, N341FS (cn 35327/3071), is in Georgetown, Delaware getting
fuel tanks installed. The first RoKAF AWE&C is due for delivery in 2011.
This weeks deliveries have a few things I'd like to point out. First, at Boeing Seattle, the KLM 73G delivery flight was from BFI to AMS... nonstop. That's over 4242 NM! At Boeing Everett, we saw an Etihad Airways 77W deliver without tail markings, which is seen in the above picture. Also, the soon to be first 77W Boeing business jet, Ex-Jet Airways VT-JEL, left for Abu Dhabi this week on it's delivery flight. And last, an all white LAN Chile 763 left for LAX on it's delivery flight with no airline markings other than a painted tail. A picture of the plane can be seen here.
Boeing Seattle (BFI):
- 14DEC09 - Air Berlin D-ABKH (cn 37747/3120), a 737-86J.
- 15DEC09 - American N819NN (cn 31083/3118), a 737-823.
- 16DEC09 - Xiamen Airlines B-5488 (cn 37148/3104), a 737-85C.
- 16DEC09 - China Eastern B-5493 (cn 29652/3121), a 737-89P.
- 16DEC09 - KLM PH-BGH (cn 38053/3119), a 737-7K2.
- 17DEC09 - Garuda Indonesia PK-GME (cn 30157/3123), a 737-8U3.
- 19DEC09 - Air China B-5485 (cn 36747/3124), a 737-89L.
- 19DEC09 - Private Customer N380BJ (cn 37700/3128), a 737-7JZ BBJ.
Boeing Everett (PAE):
- 14DEC09 - Etihad Airways A6-ETF (cn 39700/832), a 777-3FXER.
- 14DEC09 - Qatar Airways A7-BBD (cn 36016/831), a 777-2D7LR.
- 16DEC09 - Private Customer A6-SIL (cn 36563/802), a 777-35RER.
- 18DEC09 - LAN Chile CC-CXJ (cn 37801/985), a 767-316ER.
Well today was the day! After much delay, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner took to the skies just a little after 1000 local time.
The air is charged
A humid, [motioning] mass
The crowds and the cameras,
The cars full of spectators pass
Excitement so thick you could cut it with a knife
Technology...high, on the leading edge of life
(Excerpt from Rush's 1982 single "Countdown")
Boeing 001 Heavy Experimental (BOE1) left Paine Field flying VFR and headed West to fly over the Washington State coast to an aviation sector known as TATOOSH. However, the weather was not cooperating with the low altitudes they were flying and decided to fly to a clearing over the Straight of Juan de Fuca, an area only 80 km (50 mi) northwest of Paine Field. BOE1 eventually picked up it's IFR clearance from Seattle Center after the clearing over the Straight dissipated. After nearly three hours in the air, the cloud cover was threatening to lower at Boeing Field (the recovery airport) and it was decided to end the first flight.
It's being reported that the first 787 may return to the skies later this week. The second 787 is also rumored to fly before the years end. It looks like 2009 will come to a very busy close at the Boeing company.
I'm sure by now you've all seen the photos online documenting today's 787 taxi test. Well allow me to share some of my photos I took this morning. You know you want to see a few more ;)
I left my place around 0730 local time and arrived at the Paine Field 45 minutes later. I was thinking Boeing would start the taxi tests around 0900 local time as it was a weekend. Well after arriving at the airport I turned on my scanner and I immediately heard: "Boeing 001 Heavy Experimental, cleared onto runway 16R." Below are the photos I took:
The Dreamliner went out on the runway three times while I was there this morning performing a variety of high and low speed taxi tests. There was an hour of rest time in between taxi checks to allow the brakes to cool down after the rejected takeoffs.
I have plans to attend the first flight of the 787 this upcoming week. It'll be very busy, but Ill attempt to get a few pictures of the maiden flight and post them here.
Nothing too special about this week's deliveries. The GOL 738 flew BFI-GSO to get new seat interior installed at Piedmont Aviation, which is what the last two aircraft for GOL have done. Also, the FedEx 777 did a nice wing rocking departure out of PAE on it's delivery flight.
Boeing Seattle (BFI):
- 07DEC09 - flyDubai A6-FDF (cn 40236/3110), a 737-8KN.
- 09DEC09 - Skymark JA737Y (cn 29663/3113), a 737-8FZ.
- 11DEC09 - American N818NN (cn 30910/3112), a 737-823.
- 11DEC09 - ANA JA59AN (cn 33896/3073), a 737-881.
- 11DEC09 - GOL PR-GGT (cn 35830/3115), a 737-8EH.
- 11DEC09 - SAS LN-RNU (cn 34548/3116), a 737-783.
- 12DEC09 - Lion Air PK-LGP (cn 35732/3111), a 737-9GPER.
- 12DEC09 - Lion Air PK-LGM (cn 35730/3075), a 737-9GPER.
- 12DEC09 - Lion Air PK-LGO (cn 35731/3093), a 737-9GPER.
Boeing Everett (PAE):
- 08DEC09 - Qatar A7-BBD (cn 36016/831), a 777-2DZLR.
- 11DEC09 - FedEx N851FD (cn 37722/834 ), a 777-FS2.
With the 787 Dreamliner's first flight fast approaching, I thought I'd shed some light on one of the key components of the day - the cool chase planes!
Boeing Commercial Airplanes, unlike rival Airbus, has three airworthy chase planes in their inventory located at Boeing Seattle (BFI). Two of the planes are ex-RCAF Canadair CT-33's, registered N109X (red) and N416X (blue). The other plane is a Northrop T-38A (with an F-5B tail), registered as N38FT. These planes are somewhat regularly used for various purposes including air to air photo shoots and for AEW&C flight testing missions. However, on the 787's big day they'll be used to keep a close watchful eye on the 787 throughout the duration of it's maiden flight.
On the day of the 787's first flight, the two CT-33's will be performing an airborne pickup during the 787's departure roll. The control tower at Paine Field will clear "Boeing 001 Heavy Experimental" to takeoff at their chase planes call. When in position and ready, the lead CT-33 will then communicate to BOE001 on 123.325 mhz on when to start their departure roll. The CT-33's will be in formation with the 787 during climb out watching the control surfaces making sure all is well. The Boeing T-38 will also get to play with the 787 on it's first day of flying, but will do so at cruise altitude as it's not what you would call a "Slow and Low" type of airplane.
Earlier in April of this year, I had the pleasure of witnessing the P-8A Poseidon's first flight out of Boeing Renton (RNT). The Boeing CT-33's performed an airborne pick up of "Boeing Zero-Papa-Eight" that day and they flew with it for the duration of the four and a half hour flight. Upon landing at Boeing Field, one CT-33 flew along side BOE0P8 all the way to landing, which is what will be done with the 787 as well.
Today GE Aviation brought in their flight test aircraft, N747GE, from Victorville, California. This particular 747-100 is the 25th 747 ever made and first flew in 1970. It flew with Pan Am for 22 years before GE acquired it to be used as a flying test bed for their new aircraft engines. Seen attached to the port side of the plane is GE's GEnx-2B, the powerplant for the Boeing 747-8. Below are some pictures I took during the last few minutes of light this afternoon.
Late in November, I made a post titled "What's in Boeing's Storage." Well disregard that post as three of the planes on that list were delivered this week!
Boeing Seattle (BFI):
- 30NOV09 - American N816NN (cn 31081/3102), a 737-823.
- 30NOV09 - Garuda Indonesia PK-GMD (cn 30156/3100), a 737-8U3.
- 02DEC09 - WestJet C-GWSP (cn 36693/3108), a 737-7CT.
- 03DEC09 - American N817NN (cn 29558/3107), a 737-823.
- 03DEC09 - Jet Airways VT-JBP (cn 36819/3010), a 737-86N.
- 04DEC09 - Air Berlin D-ABKG (cn 37746/3109), a 737-86J.
Boeing Everett (PAE):
- 30NOV09 - Air France Cargo F-GUOA (cn 32967/718), a 777-F28.
- 02DEC09 - China Southern Cargo B-2073 (cn 37311/811), a 777-F1B.
- 02DEC09 - China Southern Cargo B-2075 (cn 37312/820), a 777-F1B.
Although not a delivery, I would like to bring attention to the Jet
Airways 777-300ER that was flown from MZJ to PAE on Thursday, 3
December. The plane was originally due to deliver to Jet Airways as
VT-JEL (cn 36563/802), but was not taken up by the airline. Rumors
about this plane is that it's been sold to a private customer as a
Boeing Business Jet. I caught the plane arriving at PAE Thursday in Jet Airways colours with the tail number as N834BA.
Today JBU4440, a jetBlue A320 from OAK, came into Boeing Field during a short sun break with the American college football team the California Golden Bears. They are playing the University of Washington's Huskies this Saturday at Husky Stadium.
Seeing an Airbus at Boeing Field is not that rare of an occurrence. Last year the Green Bay Packers used an A330-300
for a charter plane, which I believe was the largest Airbus aircraft to have greased the
runway at BFI. Every once in a while, we also see a UPS A300-600F come in, but UPS mainly uses the 767 and 757 for their regularly scheduled cargo ops out of BFI.
Now do the local spotters dislike Airbus' coming through? Heck no! Do we do terrible French accent impressions after shooting one? I cannot confirm nor deny this. But we do love a change of pace and welcome each and every Airbus aircraft to Boeing Field.
The Jet City is in the midst of a rare sunny period that is expected to last until Wednesday of next week. Well on this chilly morning I was treated with a sight that one only sees in Seattle; a Lion Air 737-9GPER taxiing to the runway with a WestJet 737-7CT following closely behind:
In the picture is Lion Air's PK-LGP (cn 35732/3111) and it's about to depart on a pre delivery test flight as BOE043. WestJet's C-GWSP (cn 36693/3108) is about to depart on it's delivery flight as WJA8948 to YYC and is seen closely following the Lion Air 737 in order to have jet wash defrost the wings. Earlier in the day another Boeing 737 sat on the bravo taxiway for twenty minutes waiting for the wings to defrost in the sun. Boeing does have deicing vehicles, however they didn't seem to be using them today.