The Chart:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Line 1416 to Qantas?

Qantas is replacing a wet leased (from Atlas) older 747F with a "near new" 747-400ERF. Could it be line 1416? The other options would be one of the four remaining former Jade ERFs (see my chart) which could also be called "near new". We'll find out sometime this year.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

N195UA (747-400) RIP

This flight happened yesterday:

United N195UA, line 1113, which only served for 11 years and was just 16 years old, heads to the shredder. So sad. At least some of her parts will fly again.

Another Cathay 747-400, B-KAF, line 921, was parked today at Victorville after a final cargo haul from Hong Kong to Los Angeles.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Line 1432, Into the Blue

It's getting routine now, but yet another "old" new frame flies for the first time today. Line 1432 (RC572) HZ-AI4 for Saudi Arabian Cargo took her first flight this morning. A big thanks to Piotrek_ for the shots.

Here she was in long term storage without engines, and then refurbishment where she finally got some (pictures thanks to Matt Cawby).

That leaves one backlog frame that hasn't flown yet: line 1433 for Cathay. Soon, my pretty. Very soon.

Atlas's final frame, line 1476 (RC582) N855GT also flew for the first time on Saturday.

Boeing has lowered the build rate to 1.75 frames a month. This is not a surprise. They likely will lower it to 1.5 frames a month by the end of the year if orders don't pick up.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Who will get the 1500th 747?

Boeing has allocated up to line 1499. Who do you think will get frame 1500? It's a pretty big milestone for the 45 year old program, and it's looking like it'll be a long time before they hit 2000 (never say never!)

My guess is number 1500 will be a Lufthansa 747-8I, and she'll have special livery to commemorate the occasion.

Tomorrow Cargolux LX-VCH (line 1473) will do a flyover at the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament. She should deliver sometime in the following few weeks according to Cargolux's CEO.

Have you seen GE's new testbed? She's an ex JAL frame (line 1024) that's set to replace their old 747-100 (line 25, 43 years old and counting!) which is still active currently doing tests for the GEnx performance improvement packages..

Kalitta has expanded their MRO outfit, and is now prepared to perform heavy checks on 747-8s. Of course, there shouldn't be any needed for another six and a half years, what with the expanded eight year D check schedule for all 747-8s. Kalitta knows how to keep 747s ticking... they still operate ten 747-200s in revenue service (there are usually 5-6 in the air at any given time on Flightaware).

Enjoy pictures of line 1437 in the air while you can. It looks like she doesn't have a customer, and could very well end up spending a long time in the desert, alongside poor line 1416.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Line 1437, umm... Closer to Heaven?

Yeah that was a terrible headline. Anyways, today line 1437 (RC573), which may or may not have a customer, had her first flight. She is not an Atlas frame by the way, in spite of the paint on the rudder. Atlas rejected her a long time ago for being too chubby.

Blah blah blah sitting around two years finally in the air. You know the drill. My pics were terrible, one of her landing, the rest were taxi tests afterwards.

Here she was in darker times... (with line 1433, another frame, just about done with refurb, that should fly sometime soon):

Two long dormant frames have first flights in two days. That's pretty cool. Maybe line 1432 will go up tomorrow for a trifecta. Sad thing is a lack of decent pictures of either of these frames getting up in the air. All the spotters seem caught off guard. Sunday and Monday are usually dead at KPAE. Oh, nevermind, Matt Cawby came through today.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Line 1438, No Longer a Paper Weight

First flight (and a quick second) this morning for line 1438 (RC554) B-LJD for Cathay. Another frame that had been sitting in long term storage (for over two years since rolling out of final assembly) finally gets up in the air. These are pics of her landing, the best I managed to get.

Here she was in less auspicious days:

There now remain only three backlog frames yet to fly.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Interesting Maintenance Information

I dug up some interesting maintenance information, a lot of it 747 specific, hosted by Boeing themselves. First off, they revised the schedule back around 2001. Here it is (and some more detail here):

747-400's D-check is 6 years, no matter what. There's some good discussion here, but I'm still wondering if a plane like line 1416 would really need a full D check in two years, or does the long term storage it's in stop that clock fully or partially. It also has become apparent that a stored frame like 1416 isn't really untouched. It probably goes though all kinds of periodic maintenance, like engine runs, tire rotations, system checks, etc., while it sits there in the desert.

On to the 747-8. Here's a great doc that's somehow eluded me up until now. There's a lot of good info in there, but one of the big cost benefits for a new 747-8 owner is the reduced maintenance schedule. 'A' checks are every 1000 hours. 'C' checks are every 10,000 hours or 24 months. 'D' checks are every 8 years for the first two checks, and 6 years for each one after that. So 747-8s should have 'D' checks at 8, 16, 22, and 28 years (and so on). This will become evident over the next 30 years as 747-8s get parked at 16/22/28 year anniversaries like 747-400's are currently often parked at 12/18/24 year anniversaries.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Refurb wrapup

The backlog of older 747-8s is winding down. Lines 1432 (Saudi Arabian), 1437 (unknown), and 1438 (Cathay) have all finished up refurbishment and are ready to fly. This leaves only three:
  1. Line 1421 for Nippon Cargo, still at Lackland AFB in San Antonio.
  2. Line 1433 for Cathay, which now has engines and is almost ready to fly as well.
  3. Line 1435 for Boeing, which could be a ways away from flying again, what with all the new stuff they're doing to her in preperation for test flights towards the end of the year.
As a sign of this, a new Lufthansa 747-8I sits in stall 118, which has been a 747-8 refurbishment spot for a long time now. It's still a mystery who's going to get line 1437, but Boeing seems to be speeding right along like she has a customer. By the middle of this year, there should only be one or possibly two of these frames still sitting around KPAE. About time these slackers move on, I say! Still, it might get kind of boring around here, not being able to track older frames. I guess we'll see.

On a side note (and because I was refreshing myself on this after seeing it mentioned on, Nippon Cargo Airlines has ten very new 747-400Fs (two are leased to AirBridgeCargo). NCA in fact has the second to last 747-400F ever built, line 1418, which isn't even four years old yet. Of course United Airlines would probably retire them all to be scrapped (zing!) but they're all very young airplanes. NCA also has two 747-8Fs and twelve more on order. One undelivered frame is parked long term for a "deferred delivery", and more will likely follow. Their business plan shows them leasing the rest of the 747-400Fs out and operating the 747-8Fs in their place. Three more should be taken for delivery this year, and three next, although all six of these planes are scheduled to be complete and ready for delivery this year. The remaining six of the 14 frame order aren't scheduled for construction yet, nor mentioned in the latest business plan, so who knows what's up with them.