April 28, 2007

Flight Plans: 3rd Edition

This blog is authored in Boston, Massachusetts. When this post was first imagined, the weather was miserable. A high of 48 degrees with a mix of sleet and rain. This went on for far too long for April weather. Spring has finally arrived here in Boston, yet during the foul weather of last week, I felt inspired to feature a flight that would take me out of that gross weather.

This week's featured flight plan is a leg of United 3, a three airport tour from Chicago O'Hare to Kahului, HI and then to Kona, HI, then back to Chicago O'Hare. United 3 is flown with a Boeing 777-200. The Chicago trip is about 8 hours long, however, the Kahului-Kona leg is a mere 18 minutes.

For the sake of full disclosure, this writer has a distinct interest in ultra-short haul flights flown by heavy aircraft. This post is an indulgence in this interest.

The flight from Kahului to Kona is an extraordinary tour of the two largest Hawaiian Island, Hawaii and Maui. The departure off of runway 2 or 20 (6995 ft.) has the 777 crossing over the OGG (Maui) VOR at northern end of the airport, joining the 030 radial and climbing to 2000 feet. Once at 2000 feet the Triple 7 makes a right turn to 100 towards the 069 radial of OGG, continuing a climb to 4400. When crossing 4400 feet the United flight turns to intercept the 069 OGG radial.

The climb continues to 7000 feet towards the OPANA intersection. During this climb, the passengers on the right side of the aircraft are treated to an extraordinary view of Opana Point and Haleakala National Park and a volcano that peaks 3000 feet above the climbing 777. After crossing OPANA, the aircraft turns back to 100 and flies to intercept the 085 radial and then direct to BARBY.

When crossing BARBY, the 777 then begins the VECKI6 arrival into PHKO. The 777 captures the 351 radial to the IAI (Kona) VOR, turning right to a heading of 171. After flying for 39 nm on the 351 radial over intersections ALONE and KAYLI and decending through 9000 to 3000, the localizer is captured on the Runway 17 ILS approach. The decending heavy slightly adjusts its heading to 171 and continues toward PHKO.

With gear down and locked, the passengers on the left side of the aircraft are treated to a visual feast of Kawaihae Bay, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in the distance. The 18 minute flight ends as the 777-200 touches the runway at Kona to pick up more passengers before returning to the less tropical windy city of Chicago.


Editor's Note: It has taken longer to write this post than the duration of UAL003.

April 27, 2007

Phenomenally Well Put

This article at Salon grabbed my attention. If you find you're self going: that's me, oh and that's me too, you're in good company. I love this stuff.

"Airliner enthusiast" is a phrase that pops up frequently in this column, occasionally alternating with "airliner nut." The meaning is probably lost on most people. Airliner enthusiasts are connoisseurs of civil aviation. But the "hobby," for lack of a better term, has little to do with flying per se. What gets our pulse going is not the visceral thrill of flight, the slipping of surly bonds. Rather, it's the grand theater of air travel: the color and craziness of the world's airlines; their route structures and service cultures; the places they go. We're enamored of planes, of course, but we see them less as technical marvels than as romantic symbols. The A.E. beholds the 747 or Concorde much the way an architecture buff beholds the Chrysler Building or the cathedral at Chartres in France. And beyond any inherent beauty, the airplane is nothing without context -- the greater point of going somewhere.

April 17, 2007

Fast and Furious

Things are really starting to come together rapidly here:
Photo Courtesy Seattle TimesYou can see where the previous post fits into this picture. Dreamliner here we come.

April 8, 2007

Flight Plans: 2nd Edition

Boeing went through an interesting phase in its corporate life in the late 1990s and early part of this decade. In short, it was a manufacturer of derivative aircraft. Aircraft like the 717, 737-600/700/800/900, 747-400ER, the 757-300, the 777-200LR/300ER rolled off the production line. Aircraft like these stretched the capabilities of the existing Boeing (or old McDonnell Douglas) product line without actually adding an entirely new product. During this time period Boeing was criticized for its lack of new offerings to the market.

One such derivative offering was the 767-400ER. A stretched 767 that fit in just below the 777-200, seating between 245 to 375 passengers. The aircraft had several very interesting features. The aircraft was the first on Boeing's product line that featured raked wingtips. Now standard on the 777-200LR/300ER, 747-800 and 787-800/900. In addition, the interior design incorporated the very popular 777 interior with curved overhead bins and new lighting. Another 777 feature which made it onto the 400ER was the introduction of the 777 style cockpit. The 777 and 767-400ER flight decks are practically indistinguishable from one another. The only exceptions being the non-glass backup instruments, no cursor control device and CRT flight management computer screens.

The 400ER was designed as a replacement for the retiring DC-10s and L1011s. Rumors still exist today whether or not the 400ER was designed specifically for Delta. Today the 400ER flies with Delta (21) and Continental (26) and has been moved around on many different types of routes. Some to Hawaii, some within the continental US, at one point to Europe and South America. The 767-400ER routes are constantly changing and have been subject of much discussion within the aviation enthusiast community. This niche aircraft, which will likely be replaced by the 787-900 (which Continental has purchased), has not seen a new order since it's first deliveries in 2000.

I had the chance to fly on a Delta 767-400ER on two legs in 2003. One from SLC to LAX and the other from LAX to ATL. Today, Delta still flies the 400ER on the LAX-ATL route. The flight takes a tour of the southern part of the United States, which starts with the HOLTZ Eight (page 2) departure out over the Pacific, then back around towards Palm Springs. The flight covers northern Arizona and New Mexico, Amarillo, Texas, Oklahoma City and Memphis, Tennessee, setting up an arrival from the Northwest to the Jackson-Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.


All Boeing 767-400ER flights over North America.

April 6, 2007

Boeing 787 Tails

A new feature here at Flightblogger is a graphic I've put together of all the Boeing 787 customer tails. I was inspired by the Boeing 777-200 prototype which featured the tails of the 19 customers on the side of the nose. When the 787 rolls out, Boeing is going to need some serious space to fit all the logos. The tails were generated from the newairplane.com 787 website.

This is a Flightblogger first, and an exclusive:

The graphic will be updated as new customers are added.

Airlines not currently included (but will be added):

Azerbaijan Airlines
Hong Kong Airlines
Travel Service

April 5, 2007

500 (and 14), Part 2

Randy's Blog captured it nicely on this graph.

One of the comments to his post really hit the nail on the head:

Gary Glover (Sydney Australia):
If you think the 787 has sold well just wait 'til you see the 737 replacement
Posted on April 5, 2007 01:42
Here in lies the next REAL challenge for the commercial aviation industry. By 2012 or 15 the market is going to be screaming for a 737/A320 family replacement. The first NGs will be pushing 20, the Classics will be approaching 30, and the older A320s around 25ish. The competition for this market will be more fierce than anything either Airbus or Boeing has ever experienced.

From a globalization standpoint, the middle part of the second decade of the 21st century will provide a truly global playing field for the narrow-body replacement market. I'm not speaking of the customer base, because that was always a global market. I'm speaking of manufacturers. Airbus and Boeing will be offering a replacement for their older products, however, there will be new national players vying for that market. Namely Embraer in Brazil, AVIC I in China, Bombardier in Canada and maybe, just maybe Fokker (though EU politics may handle this one accordingly).

Look for Airbus to expand their manufacturing deal with China on the A320s to the A320NGs to try and keep them from developing their own product for market. I would put my money on national prestige winning the day on this one, which means an emerging Chinese aviation market rocks the industry to its roots. As for Brazil, the E190/195 is already taking the place of the smaller A318 and 737-500/600 market. This is really the prologue to a much larger battle that's coming in the next 10 years.

Boeing 1Q Deliveries

CHICAGO, April 05, 2007 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced deliveries across its commercial and defense operations for the first quarter of 2007.

Major program deliveries during the first quarter were as follows:

Major Programs 1st Quarter
Commercial Airplanes Programs
737 Next Generation 83
747 3
767 3
777 17
Total 106

Integrated Defense Systems Programs
Apache (New Builds)
Chinook (New Builds)
C-17 4
C-32/C-40 1
F/A-18E/F and EA-18G 11
Satellites (Government & Commercial) 2
T-45TS 2

April 4, 2007

500 (and 14)

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner broke the half millennium mark yesterday with an add on order by JAL:

From Boeing: The JAL order for five 787-8 airplanes, in addition to several orders from unidentified customers, brings the 787's order total to 514 airplanes from 43 customers since its launch on April 26, 2004, making it the fastest-selling commercial airplane in history. This increases JAL's total 787 order to 35 airplanes from their previous order of 30 in December 2004.
Along with a potential special paint scheme expected to fly with JAL (pictured here), there seems to be a distinct question as to whether or not the 787 can hold this impressive title for much longer. It's older (and shorter) brother the 737 Next Generation, holds the title for fastest selling jetliner by delivery date. When the first -700 NG was delivered to Southwest on December 17, 1997, the NG program had accumulated a very fitting 737 orders.

With that being said, by May 2008 when the first 787-881 is delivered to ANA the title may be revoked if Boeing hasn't booked 738 firm orders. Why not shoot for 787?

April 1, 2007

Window in the Skies

Flight International Blog featured this great story from the first A380 visit to the US. This also explains why the JFK flight arrived 19 minutes earlier than the LAX flight. The rivalry is real.

Boeing has never knowingly oversold the rival A340's slowness in its own marketing presentations for the 747 and 777. The slowness of the A340-200/300 is indeed legendary - there's even a painting of a 747-400 in flight where the caption reads: "...and just below can be seen an A340 that is being overtaken". Imagine Airbus's unbridled glee therefore when on the first ever commercial route proving flight of the A380 to New York last week the opportunity came to settle some very high profile public relations scores.

The flight operated in collaboration with future A380 customer Lufthansa was cruising over the Atlantic at M0.85 and was about to slow down to coordinate with the LAX-bound A380 sister flight when the crew spotted one of BA's 747s plying its own lonely furrow to the New World. Never slow to acknowledge the broader irony of the encounter, the Airbus-Lufthansa flight crew accelerated to M0.87 and overtook it. The 747, not to be outdone, responded in kind and crept up to M0.87 as well.

The A380 soon had to drop back to M0.83 for the rest of the way however in an effort to co-ordinate its arrival with the LAX flight. It was still early ahead of schedule - landing at 12.10 at New York Kennedy and slightly ahead of the tandem LAX flight whose distinctly imaginative landing repertoire caused several raised eyebrows on either side of the continent.
By Aimee Turner