May 29, 2007

Blowing the Top Off of Paris - Massive Order for American Airlines

Reliable sources inside the aviation industry have told Flightblogger that American Airlines intends to place a "massive" narrow and wide-body order at the Paris Air Show that includes:

- Boeing 787s - 100-125 firm, plus another 100 options
- Additional Boeing 777s - firm number unknown
- Boeing 737s - 100 firm, options unknown

This reasoning behind this order makes sense for the long term growth and modernization for American Airlines. The Boeing 787 fills an important place in the American fleet as older model Airbus A300s and Boeing 767s are retired. American currently operates a fleet of 34 A300s that range from 19 to 14 years old, as well as 73 767s. American has already announced that they will be retiring their non-ER 767-200s which range from 22 to 25 years old. The fleet of 299 McDonnell Douglas MD-82/83 are set to be retired beginning in 2009. The oldest is 24 years old. These aircraft have already been slated for replacement by Boeing 737-800s.

The deal, following completed retirement of the McDonnell Douglas and Airbus fleets, will result in American Airlines becoming an all Boeing fleet, as well as consolidating eight aircraft types to just six. American currently operates the worlds largest fleet of aircraft.

As part of the deal, Boeing will award American Airlines the maintenance contract as part of the Goldcare program. The Boeing Goldcare program is intended to maintain aircraft value and minimize unexpected costs throughout the life-cycle of the 787. American Airlines just completed roughly $100 million worth of upgrades to its Tulsa maintenance facility.

If confirmed, this would be the largest single order for the Boeing 787 program. The details of this order are unconfirmed by official sources, but have been corroborated by sources within the aviation industry. The deal is expected to be officially announced at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Field from June 18-24.

May 27, 2007

Flight Plans: 4th Edition

This blog is authored 8486 nm from the departure airport in this week's featured flight plan. All previous featured flight plans were United States based flights. This was for several reasons, accurate flight plans outside the US are hard to come by. This post is a step outside of the ordinary.

In 2004 Jetstar Airways began serving Australia as the low cost arm of QANTAS. Jetstar followed a similar model that United used with TED and Delta with Song. Using a fleet of A320-200s and A330-200s, Jetstar covers 20 domestic Australian cities and 10 international destinations.

One city pair served by Jetstar is flight number 852 from Brisbane to Hamilton Island on the Northeast coast of Queensland. The flight of 478 nm is flown with an A320 with 177 seats and typically leaves Brisbane around 10:30 in the morning and touches down on Hamilton Island an hour and forty minutes later.

The departure from Brisbane to the north, climbing out over Moreton and Bribie Island takes the A320 out over the Pacific. When passing the Sunshine Coast, the Airbus narrow-body turns north-northwest over Intersection CORAL and follows the Queensland coastline along high altitude airway Q26. The A320 continues its route passing Hervey Bay and Fraser Island off its right wing and crosses the Burnett River southwest of Bundaberg.

Airway Q26 continues northward directly over Gladstone, giving a distinct treat to those sitting on the right of the aircraft as it flies over Capricorn Channel and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The flight runs almost parallel to National Highway One up the coast passing Rockhampton and MacKay.

The largest of the inhabited Whitesunday Islands of Hamilton Island is used almost exclusively for tourism and is a haven for sailboats. The aerodrome chart of the airport even warns, "Caution: Yacht masts may infringe RWY 14/32 approach surfaces." Arrivals into Hamilton Island from both directions are based around the HM (Hamilton) VOR. (RWY 14 VOR Approach, RWY 32 VOR Approach)

The approach to the spectacularly beautiful island has been captured by Darren Howie into both runway 14 and runway 32. Other than Jetstar, Hamilton Island is served by a Virgin Blue 737. A Jetstar A320 was captured here on video (and shown below) on final approach to Hamilton Island. The approach is a kin to the famous St. Maarten approach over Maho Beach. Google Maps even features a satellite picture of the Hamilton Island airport ramp with a Jetstar A320 resting after a flight.


May 25, 2007

Simple Characters, Complex Character

The registration an aircraft wears often tells a story much larger than that a simple series of letters and numbers. John Travolta's world touring 707 wears N707JT along with classic QANTAS colors. The Nike Corporate G-V is cleverly adorned with N1KE. The European equivalent is found in 5 letters, the A380 wore special temporary registrations F-WXXL and F-WWOW to represent the sheer size and stature of the Airbus Superjumbo. The 747 prototype still wears N7470 and the 777 prototype wore N7771.

Which brings me to the Dreamliner. It's not known what registration the first 787 will wear, but there are some ideas out there as to what it may end up being.

There has been talk of the tail bearing N787DL (DL for Dreamliner), N78781 and N7871. However, after some research, one particular registration stands out above the rest as a likely candidate. Not to mention some interesting clues to go along with it. When searching for N787BA on Google, there is not a single result. However, there is one very big clue. Google automatically searches the FAA registration database when an N-number is the search term.

So what does the FAA tell us about N787BA?

Reserved N-Number
Type Reservation Fee Paid
Mode S Code 52525241
Reserved Date 11/21/2001
Renewal Date 10/16/2006
Purge Date 12/21/2007
Pending Number Change None
Data Change Authorized None
Reserving Party Name BOEING COMPANY
Street 2601 LIBERTY PKWY
Zip Code 73110-2855

The first massive clue here is the fact that the previously unused registration is being held by Boeing itself. The second clue is the fact that Midwest City, OK is where the FAA bases both it's Airman Certification branch and Aircraft Registration department.

If I were a betting man, I would say Dreamliner One will wear N787BA.

May 16, 2007

Where in the world is the 787 Dreamliner?

UPDATED: May 16 - 4:56pm EDT (updates are in blue)
The manufacturing of the 787 is truly a global effort, with parts from suppliers for the Dreamliner being created on either side of the planet. As the roll-out of the 787 approaches on the 8th of July, all parts will find their way aboard three modified 747-400s (N780BA and N747BC, N249BA) to the Boeing Factory in Everett for final assembly. This particular post will be periodically be updated leading up to 7-8-07 to provide updates on the manufacturing and delivery of major Dreamliner parts.
UNCONFIRMED: Main landing gear will be delivered the week of May 14. Main landing gear will be delivered to Everett by May 18th at the latest. Trent 1000s should be delivered by June 1.

The first 787 will be painted in the house Dreamliner livery with the tail painted in the ANA livery.

Section 41
Manufactured at Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita, KS, the forward nose section of the 787 was presented to the public on the 24th of April. 4/24 Photos here LCF2 was seen departing Everett at 10:30 am PDT to fly to Kansas on May 9. (Photo 1, Photo 2) Section 41 was picked up in Wichita on May3 9 by LCF2 N780BA on Boeing 632 then flown to Charleston. Section 41 arrived in Everett on May 11.

Section 44 and 46
The center fuselage barrels (section 44 and 46) were produced in Grottaglie, Italy at Alenia Aeronautica and delivered by N780BA on March 23, 2007 to Vought Global Aeronautica’s facility in Charleston. (Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4)

Section 45/11 (Center Wheel Well/Center Wing Tank)
Section 43

Section 43(Photo 2),45/11 arrived from Nagoya, Japan (Photo 2) on Dreamlifter N747BC on January 15, 2007 in Charleston, SC.

Center Fuselage (Assembled Section 11, 43, 44, 45, 46)
Flown from Charleston and delivered to Everett on May 16. Photo and video of the unloading from KIRO. Boeing release and photo.

Section 47 and 48
Completed production at Vought in South Carolina, Section 47 and 48, the aft part of the 787 is scheduled to be shipped to Everett in early May. Vought rolled out (Seattle P-I Article) completed Sections 47 and 48 on Tuesday May 8 in preparation for delivery to Everett. (Photo Courtesy Vought Aircraft Industries) (photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4, photo 5, photo 6, photo 7) After picking up Section 41 in Wichita, LCF2 flew to Charleston to load Section 47/48. Departure from Charleston was at 4:49am EDT on May 11 on Boeing 632, with a touchdown at Paine Field at 6:48am PDT. Sunrise arrival! Watch the arrival video.

1st Unloading shot from Matt Cawby
2nd Unloading shot from Boeing
Associated Press Photos (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

Tail Cone
Korean Air Aerospace (KAL-ASD) is manufacturing the tail cone in Busan, South Korea. It will be shipped from South Korea to Everett, and will be joined with Section 48 and the Hamilton Sundstrand APU which finished cold weather testing in Alaska in early March 2007. The tailcone was delivered to Everett on the evening of May 9.

"We're at the final stage of completing the first wings," says Takashi Fujimoto, head of 787 production at Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Delivery from Nagoya to Everett is planned for mid-May. (Photo 1, Photo 2) The wings were presented in a ceremony at MHI in Nagoya and loaded onto the Dreamlifter on May 13. (Photo 1, Photo 2) Wings were delivered to Everett on the morning of May 15. Image courtesy KIRO and 16 shot slideshow. Boeing news release and photo.

According to Boeing, the wingtips have arrived in Everett after delivery from KAL-ASD in South Korea.

Landing Gear

Nose gear currently installed in Section 41 in Wichita. Nose gear was revealed April 13. Body gear most likely at Messier-Dowty awaiting shipment to Everett and installation in Section 45 from Montreal, Canada.

Horizontal Stabilizer
Arrived in Everett as first major assembly piece to be delivered to the Boeing Factory in Washington. The tail, which was built by Alenia, was shipped using N780BA from Grottaglie in southern Italy via a refueling stop in Scotland on April 24, 2007.

Vertical Fin
Tail fin presented to an audience in Frederickson, Washington on March 14, 2007. (Photo 1, Photo 2) The vertical fin was shipped down the road from Frederickson to Everett on the evening of May 7 for eventual mating with the rudder.

The first Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines are set to fly on a 747 test bed in mid-May. The first prototype test engines have successfully undergone testing, including the crucial blade-off test in mid-April. The first certified pair will be delivered in time for final assembly.

BOE632 filed KPAE -> EGPK

Scheduled: Depart KPAE at 09:30AM PDT -> EGPK (ETA 12:29AM GMT)

Expected route: PAE YDC J503 YNY J527 YMM NCAC CANEL 6800N 05000W 6700N 04000W 6500N 03000W 6300N 02000W ERAKA UP58 ETSOM UN580 BRUCE W958D TRN

May 6, 2007