The Chart:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Unsolved mysteries

There's been little activity so far this week on the 747-8 front, at least as far as I can see. There've been no test flights or deliveries since my last report. Line 1434 has moved into the paint hanger for a strip and repaint. So long, Big Orange!

There are a couple of mysteries I've been trying to resolve, with no luck yet.

One mentioned in comments (first comment milestone!) is regarding the three rejected Atlas frames, lines 1429, 1432, and 1437. Comparable frames have been refurbished and delivered to their respective customers, but apparently these ones weren't good enough for Atlas, as they were "not taken up" and replaced by other future frames. One, line 1429, is going through refurbishment, and the other two are languishing around the Paine tower. So what's in store for these three frames? Will Atlas eventually accept them, or will some other customer step in?

The other mystery are the first three frames, lines 1420, 1421, and 1422. They've been going through refurbishment at Lackland in San Antonio for a while now, and I've seen a couple pictures here and there, but I'm really curious as to what their exact status is; how long until they deliver? I believe line 1431 for Nippon Cargo was refurbished at Lackland too, so I suppose it's just a matter of time.

Arik Air has ceased operations indefinitely while conflict between the airline and union has turned ugly. Arik has two 747-8 firm orders, as well as some 777/787 firm orders. Hopefully they pull through.

Here's a good tour of Lufthansa's 747-8.

And finally, the last old (formerly American Airlines) 747-100 Shuttle Carrier, N905NA, will hoist her final cargo, Space Shuttle Endeavor, on her back today and tomorrow over Southern California. Good job old girl!


  1. BBJ line 1459 is now out of the paint shop and back on the flight line in the usual BBJ white.

    On the ex-Atlas frames: While Atlas claimed they didn't want the three early builds as they were too heavy, the story makes much more sense if look at it as they didn't want the planes for capacity reasons. You see when Atlas rejected those three frames, they also reduced their order from 12 to nine. So if Atlas would want/need them in the future, they'd have to rebuy them. There's no sign that's happening.

    Given the amount of 787 work that Boeing is facing, you would have to presume that 1429 is being refurbished with a specific customer in mind. Otherwise why do it now?

    Both LN 1424 and 1431 went through refurishment work at Lackland after serving in the 747-8F test program. These two frames were not fully instrumented however. Lackland dates:

    1420: June 8, 2011 -
    1421: May 29, 2012 -
    1422: October 6, 2011 -
    1424: May 13 - December 18, 2011
    1431: August 8, 2011 - April 24, 2012

    An interesting tidbit: NCA has stated that they are taking two 747-8Fs this year, three in 2013, and three in 2014, which implies that 1421 won't deliver until 2014(!). The second aircraft this year is probably LN 1469 (likely the last aircraft due this year), so presumably 1422 delivers next year. 1420 should be ahead of it by about four months but it's not clear when that amounts to -- I'd guesstimate that she'd be back at KPAE sometime within the next nine months.

  2. Juicy info, Thanks once again! How do you get your up to date line move information? I'm jealous! :)

  3. I just look at the KPAE flight line photos and videos. Matt Cawby has a video up that was taken on the 19th (Wednesday) and you can see 1459 right at beginning of it.

  4. Looks like LN 1420 (= Boeing 501) is scheduled for a test flight today. So hopefully will delivery sometime during the 4th quarter.

    1. Thanks Michael. I've added Lackland to my stalk list :p