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Boeing deliveries - Week of 17JAN10

Boeing Seattle (BFI):

  • 19JAN10 - American N821NN (cn 30912/3137), a 737-823.
  • 19JAN10 - Copa Airlines HP-1537CMP (cn 36550/3114), a 737-8V3 w/o winglets.
  • 19JAN10 - Ryanair EI-EKC (cn 38495/3143), a 737-8AS.
  • 20JAN10 - Xiamen B-5489 (cn 37149/3142), a 737-85C.
  • 20JAN10 - China Southern B-5446 (cn 35389/3114), a 737-81B w/o winglets.
  • 20JAN10 - Air China B-5495 (cn 36749/3145), a 737-89L.
  • 21JAN10 - Lion Air PK-LGR (cn 35734/3153), a 737-9GPER.
  • 21JAN10 - Ryanair EI-EKE (cn 35023/3148), a 737-8AS.
  • 22JAN10 - American N822NN (cn 31085/3149), a 737-823.
  • 22JAN10 - Ryanair EI-EKD (cn 35024/3146), a 737-8AS. 

Boeing Everett (PAE):

  • 20JAN10 - Philippine Airlines RP-C7776 (cn 37712/841), a 777-36NER.

Take note the photo of the Philippine airlines 777 above is a file photo and not of this weeks delivered PAL 777.

Historic plant 2 to be demolished

Boeing's Plant 2, located adjacent to Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, is one of the most historical buildings on the west coast of the United States of America. Earlier this month it was announced that Boeing would demolish the building. In this post I would like to share the mark it left in the history books.

First built in 1935 along the banks of the Duwamish River, Boeing's Plant 2 was built to produce the Model 299 bomber. This quad engine airplane would eventually be tweaked and modified to the specifications of the United States Army Air Force and would be branded the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Shortly after the plant was built, Boeing assigned the Model 307 passenger plane to be built inside Plant 2 along side the B-17 line. With a European conflict overseas at the time, Boeing won a contract in late 1938 to build the Douglas DB-7 bomber under license for the Russian and English armed forces. The factory expanded from 60,000 square feet to 1,766,000 square feet in 1939 to make room for production of the DB-7 bomber as well as Boeing's various military and commercial aircraft.  All that changed after the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941. The United States had been building up it's military might slowly in the late 1930's, but was still sorely unprepared for a major conflict, let alone two on separate fronts. Plant 2 started exclusively producing the B-17 bomber in 1942 and by 1943 they were rolling out 16 bombers a day from the factory.

During the Untied States' involvement in WWII, military officials were worried about a possible Japanese attack on the west coast that would target major factories in Southern California, but specifically on Boeing's Plant 2. It was decided they would camouflage the factory with fabric and other materials so it would seem as if it were an average American neighborhood from above and not a bustling weapons factory. Today many historians doubt that the camouflage would have tricked the Imperial Japanese Navy bombers, but at the time it was a simple solution for a problem that was of great worry. (There was only one attack on the continental United States during WWII, which was a failed attempt to start a forest fire along the Oregon coast).

From 1939 to 1945, nearly 7,000 B-17 bombers of various makes were rolled out of Boeing's Plant 2. Historians credit Plant 2 as one of the places that won the war due to the massive amount of aircraft produced there, which primarily flew in the European theater. While there were many other B-17's built under license in Long Beach, Burbank, and Wichita, Plant 2 saw more B-17 bombers roll out of its doors than any other US bomber production line during World War II.

After the United States and the Allies won World War II, the B-17 was old news and the United States Army air force wanted an improved version of their B-29 bomber, which was being built at Boeing's Renton site. Boeing placed the improved and highly modified airplane, the B-50 Superfortress, to be built at Plant 2. Only 371 planes were made before jet engine technology caught on and made the piston-powered bomber obsolete. In 1947, Boeing rolled out their first jet powered aircraft, the B-47 Stratojet from Plant 2. After B-47 production ceased at Plant 2, Boeing started production on their next bomber, the B-52 Stratofotress, which rolled out of Plant 2 under the cover of darkness in 1954. The last plane produced in Plant 2 was the Boeing 737, which rolled out in 1967. Only the first four 737's were made in Plant 2 before production moved a few blocks down the street to a purpose built factory.

Today, part of Plant 2 is used by the Museum of Flight as a restoration facility for their B-17, B-29, and Super Constellation projects. Boeing gave the museum until May 2010 to pack up and find another place to restore those planes. The other remaining space is used for storage. Boeing's reasoning to tear down the historic building is due to the costs associated with maintaining the structure that has been leaking toxic materials into the Duwamish River since it's inception. Parts of the roof have already collapsed and wood throughout the building has been rotting away for years.

It's a tragedy and a shame that the Boeing Company didn't properly maintain this historic building over the years. It'll be a sad day when Plant 2 is finally torn down, but it's my hope that this building will be remembered for years to come. 

Boeing deliveries - Week of 10JAN10

Boeing Seattle (BFI):

  • 13JAN10 - Norwegian Air Shuttle LN-NOU (cn 29674/3140), a 737-8FZ.
  • 14JAN10 - Ryanair EI-EKA (cn 35022/3139), a 737-8AS.
  • 14JAN10 - Ryanair EI-EKB (cn 38494/3141), a 737-8AS.
  • 15JAN10 - Copa Airlines HP-1536CMP (cn 35127/2963), a 737-8V3.

Boeing Everett (PAE):

  • [None]

The Copa Airlines 737 that was delivered this week was in storage at Boeing Field since July 2009. It was rumored that problems with the seat suppliers were the root cause of the delayed delivery.

The Gweduck (the amphibious seaplane)

After seeing this odd looking plane in the southeast corner of the Renton Municipal airport every now and then for nearly two years, I finally did some research on it. I contacted one of the engineers and this morning I had the pleasure of seeing the Ellison-Mahon Aircraft's Gweduck up close in their hangar. While walking around the plane, I noticed the FAA aircraft identification plate on the tail that read "Experimental Amateur Built Aircraft." Although I'm well aware of the FAA's definition of "amateur," it was still hard for me to comprehend that they could use such a word to categorize this professionally built plane. According to an article in the January 2010 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine, the people behind the project have spent nearly 20 years designing and building the airplane. Unlike the Grumman Widgeon that it resembles, this is made of composites, which don't corrode in salt water environments like metal does. It also sports two 300hp Lycoming IO-540 engines, which at an economical cruise speed of 120 knots only use an impressive 19.5 GPH (74 LPH) of avgas. The Gweduck can seat six (including pilot) and has a maximum payload of nearly 2000 lbs (907 kg). All of these figures are impressive to this general aviation geek.

The Gweduck is currently in a hiatus period while they continue to fine tune the design. Their plan is start flying again in around six weeks time.

To learn more about the Gweduck, you can visit their website at www.gweduck.com/ or read the January 2010 EAA article. Both links include intriguing information and various pictures.

Boeing deliveries & News - Week of 3JAN2010

It was a little slow this week as Boeing went back to work after two weeks off over the holidays. Delivery numbers will be back to normal next week.

Boeing Seattle (BFI):

  • 7JAN10 - ANA JA60AN (cn 33897/3126), a 737-881.

Boeing Everett (PAE):

  • 6JAN10 - ANA JA784A (cn 37950/833), a 777-381ER

NEWS:

Word on the street is that 787 Line No. 2 (pictured above) will fly for it's second time early next week. It hasn't flown since it's first flight, which was on 22 December 2009, as it's been in the Boeing flight test hangar at BFI getting flight test equipment installed.

The first flight of the Boeing 747-8F now looks like it's been pushed back a week from the second week of January to the third week. The plane has yet to perform taxi tests.

Name that tail

At Boeing Renton, the birthplace of all 737NG's, only one out of seven planes are painted before their first flight. The rest take their first flight unpainted in green temporary protective coating (TPC) with the rudder and winglets in full airline colours. The rudders and winglets are painted prior to installation so they can be properly balanced. In comparison, competitor Airbus paints all their A320 series planes at their Hamburg factory prior to having their engines installed. So why doesn't Boeing paint all their planes before they fly? Well the reason is because Boeing has only one paint facility at Renton and they don't have the space to expand any further there. So instead, planes not painted at Renton are pained in one of Boeing Seattle's two paint hangars. It takes on average three to four days, depending on the design, to paint a 737NG.

So with that background story out of the way, the fun now begins. Below are four tails (or should I say painted rudders) that passed through Boeing Field in 2009. See if you can identify all four. These are certainly not the hardest ones I could throw at you, but they could be a slight challenge for a moderate airplane geek.

 1.)                                                                              2.)

  

3.)                                                                               4.)

  

[...]

[...]

[...]

[...]

[...]

[...]

[...]

[...]

[...]

[...]

Answers:

  • 1.) Shandong Airlines
  • 2.) Turkmenistan Airlines
  • 3.) Cyprus Turkish Airlines - KTHY
  • 4.) Ryanair

Now if you happened to cry foul on the Ryanair tail, you have good reason to do so. In years past, the rudder unmistakingly resembled the Ryanair harp logo. However, earlier this year starting with EI-EGA (cn 38490/3096), I noticed a change in the rudder design. If you follow this link, you can see a comparison of the old rudder to the new one.

Boeing deliveries - Week of 27DEC09

This week was so quiet at the local airports that I almost forgot to make this post! I was able to have a relaxing time off from spotting over the Boeing winter break, but it's back to the old grind come Monday morning.

Boeing Seattle (BFI):

  • 29DEC09 - Copa Airlines HP-1538CMP (cn 36554/3130), a 737-8V3.

Boeing Everett (PAE):

  • 28DEC09 - Cathay Pacific B-KPN (cn 36165/839), a 777-367ER.
  • 30DEC09 - AeroLogic D-AALD (cn 36004/838), a 777-FZN. 
2010 - A look ahead

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 Year.

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.

ZA001 flies for a second time

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.

Boeing deliveries - Week of 20DEC09

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.

The second 787 first flight

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.

What's on the Military Ramp?

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 AEW&C (Wedgetail).
  • 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.

Boeing deliveries - Week of 13DEC09

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.
787 First Flight

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.

787 taxi test pictures

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.

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