First (ZA004) and Second (RC501) Flights
The first 747-8F and the fourth 787 (third to fly) are slated to fly this week - we think. First thought to be taking place on Monday, there's been some speculation about taking steps to look at ZA004's Trent 1000 engines after a in-flight uncommanded loss of power during a test flight on ZA001 last Friday. ZA004 completed mini-gauntlet testing on Saturday.
For now, ZA004 will remain in ground testing until at least Tuesday, say program sources, though Boeing says that they have not set an official date for the aircraft's first flight. However, the company has said that both ZA003 and ZA004 will fly by the end of February. Capts. Heather Ross and Craig Bomben will take ZA004 on its maiden sortie when it happens.
Meanwhile, RC501 remains on the flight line at Everett while the aircraft is being prepped for its ferry to Moses Lake, which was supposed to be Saturday, then Sunday, then Monday, but is currently holding - potentially for ZA004.
The next chapter in the seemingly never-ending KC-X tanker battle is likely to come as early as Tuesday, when the US Air Force is expected to issue a formal request for proposal (RFP) to Boeing and Northrop Grumman (+EADS/Airbus). Northrop has been displeased with the discussions about the potential RFP as it doesn't make appropriate provisions for potential cost overruns, as well as the additional capability of the aircraft beyond its tanker role. If you're just joining the party now, Boeing may offer either the KC-7A7 (based on the 777-200LR) or KC-767 (based on the 767-200ERF), while EADS/Airbus will likely offer the KC-30 (A330-200 MRTT). Let's just see how this one plays out. Make sure to follow @thedewline for updates.
The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is holding hearings on Thursday to look at aviation safety one year after Colgan Flight 3407, which crashed on approach to Buffalo. The aviation operations, safety, and security subcommittee will the handling the hearing and it will be interesting to see how opinions have swayed - if at all - following the Frontline investigation of Colgan's operations. A list of who will be testifying has been made public yet.
The Ancillary Art
I wanted to make you aware of a project that's been published by Miyuru Sandaruwan. Mr. Sandaruwan, who is based in Sri Lanka and is a close follower of the airline industry, wrote an eBook on "the art" of packaging fees designed to drive ancillary revenues. Most impressively, Mr. Sandaruwan, who is 19 years old, wrote the entire presentation on his mobile phone. It's a great example of thoughtful analysis made possible by the fall of modern publishing barriers. Definitely worth taking a look.