The fifth 747-8F is flying its max endurance
ETOPS/F&R (extended operations not extended twin-engine operations) mission today, and the crew of RC523 appears to have taken some creative liberties with its flight plan over the western half of the United States. You may recognize the unmistakable shape of the numbers 747 covering the states west of the Mississippi River. The aircraft left Paine Field this morning a little past 7 AM PT and is due in around midnight or so after the 17 hour haul. Here's RC523's active flight plan covering 8,119nm:
SEA J70 MLP J36 GTF HLN DLN TWF PARZZ MVA MQO MVA PARZZ Q121 TOUGH DIK RAP J157 BFF HGO TCC VANSS TCC HGO BFF J157 RAP DIK J36 FAR J140 DLH J21 ICT SPS ICT J21 DLH J140 FAR DIK BFF PARZZ TWF DLN HLN GTF J36 MLP J136 GEG GANGS KPAEThe 787 flew a similar 18hr mission on July 26 from Guam to Everett to wrap up its ETOPS testing and I'll much more on that later.
UPDATE 6:17 PM ET: Boeing pointed out the max endurance flight is being flown under F&R certification, not ETOPS. As it turns out cargo models are exempt from the ETOPS rules as part of the 2007 update.
UPDATE 11:36 AM ET: RC523 landed a little after midnight on the west coast completing its 17h flight covering an estimated 10,137nm, according to Flightaware, and successfully flew a track that spelled 747 across 18 US states.