The Chart:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cathay takes one for the road

Cathay Pacific announced today an order for one 747-8F which will bring their total fleet to 14. I was hoping for more, but one is better than none. Cathay's VLA passenger plans are clearly 100% focused on the 777 unfortunately for the 747-8. In other Cathay updates, they took delivery of line 1486 (RC563) B-LJM on the 23rd.

Also delivered was AirBridgeCargo's final frame, line 1483 (RC605) VQ-BRJ. This, along with the paper delivery of line 1479 (RC525) JA15KZ for Nippon Cargo Airlines, marks the end of the desert storage saga, at east for now. All 747-8s that were parked in the desert over the last year or so have now been delivered.

It's looking like 23 deliveries for 2013, unless line 1488 (RC549) HL7624 for Korean can squeeze out the door before the end of the year. That's down from 31 last year, but still a healthy number.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Second 747-8 PIP Delivery

Today, Cathay Pacific took delivery of line 1484 (RC562) B-LJL, marking the second delivery of a 747-8 with PIP engines. Deja vu, two deliveries in two days. The third should happen in the next few days.

Line 1479 (RC525) JA15KZ also paper delivered to NCA two days ago, and should fly away soon. On deck for 2013 still are lines 1483 (RC605) VQ-BRJ for ABC and 1488 (RC549) HL7624 Korean Air Cargo, but the latter is looking like a stretch with only one test flight so far.

You might notice the bottom of the chart has four new Intercontinentals added. Two of those are for Lufthansa, which gave me a sigh of relief. I was a bit paranoid they were going to cancel the last four orders and stick with 15 747-8Is, after they cancelled a few A380s earlier this year. Now it looks like they're going ahead with all 19 747-8Is, and possibly 20 if they end up taking line 1435 (RC021) D-ABYE back. I say add another five to fill up the alphabet (D-ABYZ?). Not including that extra letter in the German alphabet of course (D-ABYß?).

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

First 747-8 PIP Delivery

Today, Cathay Pacific takes delivery of line 1483 (RC561) B-LJK, marking the first delivery of a 747-8 with PIP engines. According to Boeing's press release, activation of the other two major improvements, the flight computer upgrade (for all 747s models 400 and up) and tail tank enablement (for 747-8I only), will proceed later this month and early January (with Lufthansa) respectively. Here's to (1.8%) more efficiency! Pics to come.

And more details from Aviation Week (thanks for the heads up Mario), stating a total of 3.5% efficiency increase with the whole package (1.8% is from engine only):

The upgraded engine forms the core of a broader set of aerodynamic and structural improvements that have been introduced since the freighter and passenger versions of the aircraft first entered service in 2011 and 2012 respectively. “Together with the other improvements made since entry-into-service on the 747-8F at the end of 2011, the engine PIP bundles 1.8% with another 1.7% for a total of 3.5% (fuel burn),” says 747-8 chief project engineer Bruce Dickinson. In addition to drag reduction and improvements to the cruise efficiency of the wing, the empty weight of the 747-8 has been reduced by almost 8,000 lb, while payload-range capability has been boosted through a 12,000 lb. increase in maximum take-off weight. The GEnx-2B67 PIP incorporates an all-new low-pressure turbine, as well as compressor, combustor and turbine improvements derived from the second batch of upgrades (PIP II) devised for the GEnx-1B engine on the 787. GE provisionally expected a 1.6% fuel burn improvement but, based on positive test data, upped this to 1.8%. The package of upgrades was launched after pre-delivery flight tests revealed a fuel burn performance shortfall in excess of 2%.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Speculation About Lines 1435 and 1437

The fates for lines 1435 and 1437 are still unclear.

Line 1435 has finished certification testing and is sitting on the KPAE flight line. It's not apparent if she's getting refurbishment done yet. Boeing has her earmarked internally for Lufthansa once again, but it's uncertain if this is real or some clerical anomoly, as nothing has been officially announced. I'm reluctant to get my hopes up, because it would make me really happy to see line 1435 finally end up as D-ABYE and be a real passenger airliner with a long career. If she goes to waste as a VIP frame, it'll be disappointing. I know VIP 747s have to exist, but they really are poor utilization of a good frame. Another possibility is that Transaero might take her up as one of their four (soon to be firm) orders.

Line 1437 has flown quite a bit over the past few months. I'm guessing she was used in some of the certification testing. Her engine cowls were painted Atlas blue recently, and along with this news that Atlas has expanded its 747-8F wet leasing, starting in February 2014 with BST Logistics in Hong Kong, I'm wondering if Atlas will take back their unwanted frame.

Again, this is mostly speculation. We'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

First Flight for HL7624

Line 1488 (RC549) HL7624 for Korean Air Cargo finally got up in the air today for a first flight. Meanwhile older frame line 1481 (RC548) HL7623, also for Korean Air Cargo sits unpainted and without engines at the tower apron for over six months now. Fair? No! Line 1488 should deliver before year's end.

Photo by Matt Cawby

Bonus pictures of 787 line 26 VT-ANB returning from her first flight after sitting over three years from rollout off the FAL. And as you guys may know by now, that just floats my boat.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Thanks to 747Classic over at, we now know that the new 747-8 (including all airframe and engine modifications) has been certified by the FAA on December 10th, 2013. This is excellent, if overdue news. Most importantly it means Boeing can start delivering their backlog of new frames, and the first ones up should be three for Cathay and one for Korean Air Cargo. The other two frames slated for delivery this month to ABC and NCA are using the older engine/airframe combos, as far as I know.

Read the certification here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Happy 1/10th Birthday, Line 1416

Some good pictures of line 1416 LX-ECV for Cargolux in action have popped up at Widebodies. She's one tenth of a year old (at least in in-service years) now. Not much of a livery but at least there's something. Even if they park her again after three months, I can die knowing the frame wasn't totally wasted.

Pic 1

Pic 2 

And here just last week in Brazil.

Video of takeoff from Afonso Pena International Airport. (ruined by youtube's smoothing algorithm but better than nothing).

Paine Field activity isn't exactly electrifying right now. Cathay's new triplets are still being tested, but it's getting late for them to really contribute to the holiday rush. Korean Air Cargo's line 1488 (RC549) HL7624 is pending a first flight. It's strange that this frame is in flight test while line 1481 (RC548) also for KAC has been sitting unpainted and un-engined for six months.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Looking Like 23 Deliveries For 2013 is blocked from China, as is a bunch of other stuff. I found a way to keep the chart updated though.

So I missed all the excitement of all three new Cathay frames having B1s over 4 days (and it was almost three consecutive). That would be lines 1483 (RC561) B-LJK, 1484 (RC562) B-LJL, and 1486 (RC563) B-LJM.

It looks like between these three and lines 1479 (RC525) JA15KZ (for NCA) and 1483 (RC605) VQ-BRJ (for ABC), Boeing is really pushing to get them out before the end of the year, which would give us 23 deliveries for 2013.

I scored three 747-400 rides this trip, and it's good to see so much 747 activity at the big airports. It's not what it used to be but there are still a lot of them taxiing around. I flew on RP-C7472 (line 1012 for Philippines from LAX to MNL), B-HUF (line 993 for Cathay from HKG to TPE), and B-18207 (line 1176 for China Airlines from TPE to LAX), with a bonus short hop in an A340 from MNL to HKG on the outgoing, which happens to be my favorite Airbus. It was scheduled for an A330, which is the most boring airliner in existence to me, so the swap was a great surprise. A340-300 RP-C3438 was fresh over from Iberia to Philippines Airlines, still with the old Iberia livery minus branding.

Saw a lot of 747-8s on this trip too. Can't wait to fly in one. They really are the best looking version of the best looking airliner ever made. Here are some pics:

RP-C7472 - don't those engines just give you warm fuzzies?

Upper Deck!

RP-C3438 still wearing old clothes.

Hong Kong - How many 747-8s can you count?

D-ABYF at Hong Kong.

B-HUF ready for a short hop to Taiwan.

There isn't always time for a great pic, but gotta get the tail number. Funny thing was the cute flight attendant listed it off from memory before I took this shot to verify. I'm in love.
Need For (Ground) Speed Baby!!