The Chart:

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Reason for the Antonov An-124s at KPAE

The Seattle Times has a story explaining the frequent Antonov An-124 visits to KPAE. The short story is that Triumph, the company who manufactures the fuselage for the 747-8 and usually delivers them by rail, has been delivering some fuselages that don't pass Boeing's QC. This has necessitated the Antonovs flying in corrected fuselages to save the schedule. I wonder if they've been sending back the erroneous fuselages by either rail or air to be refurbished.

I have a secret love for three and four engine Russian planes (I would kill to fly on an IL-62), so I don't mind, but it's hurting Triumph's bottom line.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Two From the Desert Enter Service

Yesterday line 1478 (RC509) LX-VCI delivered to Cargolux after a two month stay in the desert. (UPDATE: named "City of Troisvierges")

Today line 1463 (RC604) VQ-BRH delivered to AirBridgeCargo after a six month stay in the desert.

So there's hope for these stored frames yet. They won't all end up like line 1416.

"What's that green stuff?" says VQ-BRH after 6 months staring at sand. Thanks to mzunguwamap.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Engines Being Installed?

Judging from Matt Cawby's latest flight line shot, it looks like line 1483 (RC561) B-LJK for Cathay Pacific is at the fuel dock and possibly has engines. Or is that an optical illusion? Also, the unknown frame in stall 118 has two balance weights removed, which could mean she's getting engines too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


All of these unpainted unlabeled engine-less 747-8s lying around KPAE make it really annoying trying to catalog in the chart. I'm doing my best to guess which is which.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Goin back to KPAE

Line 1469 (RC524) JA14KZ for Nippon Cargo Airlines is returning to KPAE from a six month stint in the slammer at Pinal Airpark. Last I've heard, NCA is still planning on taking three more frames before the end of the year, and this move supports that plan. Inventory in storage at Pinal is now down to two frames, one for NCA, one for ABC. Three frames have now been returned from storage for pending deliveries, although two of them have been languishing around KPAE for a month now.

UPDATE: Line 1421 (RC521) JA11KZ for Nippon Cargo Airlines is painted and is also returning to KPAE this evening.

Here's a sequence of line 1469's return:

And here's 1421's landing:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bad news, Good news...

Lufthansa's order has been made official. 34 777-9Xs and 25 A350-900s. This order is mostly bad news for the prospects of 747-8I sales. I had thought this order was going to be 25/25 of each widebody twin, solely targeting the replacement of Lufthansa's 50 A340s (300 and 600 models), and leaving the late model 747-400s for a future order. It turns out that this order is targeting the replacement of their late model 747-400s as well.

Bad news:
  • Newer model 747-400s will be replaced with 777-9Xs
  • Unlikely Lufthansa will order any significant amount of additional 747-8Is in the future
Good news:
  • Newer 747-400s will fly their full life span (22-24 years) before being retired by 2025
  • A340-600s (fellow four holers) will fly a good life span (16-18 years) before being retired by 2025
  • Lufthansa will take delivery of all 19 747-8Is, and plans for them to be a key part of their long haul fleet in 2025 (implying they'll remain in service well past that date)

In other good news:
  • Line 1435 (RC021) continues her flight test program, now 300+ hours in, testing new engines, tail tank, and other things
  • Line 1437 (RC573) is back in the air. Could it be nearing a sale?
  • Line 1463 (RC604) VQ-BRH for AirBridgeCargo is back at the delivery center, hopefully to fly into service soon

And lastly, because I was bored and it's a 2+ year old frame flying for the first time, here's 787 line 36 (ZA381) B-2726 for China Southern taking to the skies. And seeing as she's meant for China Southern, this means that she'll probably deliver sometime in the next 12-24 months.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Air Force One

Businessweek has an article on the next Air Force One. It looks like Boeing is going to be the sole bidder, and the speculation is that the US Government will want three 747-8Is. The problem is they don't want them until after 2020, and with the current sales rate of the 747-8, there's concern if the line can stay open that long. The solution to that problem is to sell more frames. Seems simple enough.

Speaking of sales, Lufthansa is rumored to be ordering 50 wide bodies, a mixture of Boeing 777X and Airbus A350. 747 haters on various forums are declaring this to be the end of the 747-8I, getting so ridiculous as to state these 777X will replace the 747-8I prematurely and Boeing will buy the 747-8Is back. Lufthansa, however, previously stated this order was to focus on replacing their A340s, some of which are extremely young (which is sad; I really like the A340). So, there's no basis for this anti 747 speculation. I speculate the people spreading this nonsense are A380 fans who view the 747-8 as a nuisance. The truth is neither frame is selling well due to much deeper reasons than competition with each other. I'm hoping those reasons dissipate and both frames see strong success. I'm still expecting Lufthansa to place a top up order for both the 747-8I and the A380 at some point. We will see.

Line 1463 (RC604) VQ-BRH for AirBridgeCargo (formerly stored at Pinal Airpark for half a year) delivered this week, and should fly off next week.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Headed to Tupelo...

Took me long enough to post these pictures, didn't it? I visited Tupelo Regional Airport in search of old 747s a few weeks ago, and I wasn't disappointed. It's safe to assume that any large airplane flying into Tupelo is soon to be a scrap pile. Case in point, former United 747-400 N193UA, which flew here back in December:

"And that there's what's left of 193..."

The Lufthansa 747s that flew in here last year? Not a sign of them ever existing. It was a really interesting visit. The company that does all this dirty work, Universal Asset Management, stays very busy. They also have a spin off company called Aviation Afterlife that creates furniture and artwork using pieces and parts from these scrapped planes. I won't blather on any more about it; I'll just get to the pictures and videos.

Photo Gallery
Up in N195UA (video)
Flight Line 1 (video)
Flight Line 2 (video)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Block Change (?)

Line 1488 (RC549) for Korean Air Cargo rolled out from the final assembly line yesterday or today, which means line 1492 (RC031) D-ABYL started final assembly. This is the frame that I believe signals a block change for
  • Lower weight
  • Tail tank enabled
  • 1.75 frames a month
among other things. We'll have to watch the roll out dates to verify.

Here's Matt Cawby's pic of line 1488: