The Chart:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holy Crap, 747-8s Are Quiet.

Live blogging from the road!

I'm at LAX waiting for my flight (PAL flight 103, 747-400 line 1012 RP-C7472), at the Tom Bradley complex, gate 156, which is at the south end. My flight pulls up and I'm admiring how awesome 747s are in person, and a couple jets are taking off just to the side of me on runway 25R making the usual racket. Suddenly I catch this long ass ghost ship 747 race by and lift up into the air in the dark, and I look closely to see Cathay livery. It's dark so I can't see the tail number, but I looked it up on FlightRadar (because FlightAware is busted) and it's B-LJD. So not only am I stoked to see one of my overdue delivery frames take off in person 100 yards away, but I can't believe how quiet it was. I mean it was like a Tesla just drove by or something. No hyperbole, that was amazing. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to get a pic. But here's my ride:

Philippine Airlines line 1012, RP-C7472

Now I'm in the International Lounge feeling like royalty, with free food and drinks, far away from all the smelly proletarians. I could get used to this Business Class thing...

Monday, November 18, 2013


A great new video for 747 fans, by Boeing.

Now sell some more dammit!

Sound of Silence

The Dubai Air Show is happening, and the big Middle East carriers are ordering 1 billion planes, none of which are 747-8s. It's disheartening for a 747-8 fan. The capacity Emirates ordered between their 150 777X and 50 A380 purchase is astounding. Either Emirates is onto something that no other carrier is aware of, or they're going too big too fast. It'll be interesting to see. Either way, it would've been great if there were twenty or thirty 747-8s in that order somewhere, but alas there aren't. My hopes of Emirates or Etihad buying into it now have almost entirely evaporated.

Around KPAE, I've identified the mysterious white tail. Cargolux line 1491 (RC511) LX-VCK snuck out of the final assembly line on us a few weeks back. Lufthansa's tenth frame, line 1492 (RC031) D-ABYL, rolled out with engines. This is the first frame to incorporate all of the performance improvements directly out of the FAL. A couple recent frames have been painted, had engines installed, and even had engine runs. However, it's really getting late to deliver these frames in 2013, and activity has been very slow. Either the three new Cathay frames start flying soon or they must be planning on the deliveries slipping to 2014.

Lufthansa line 1492 (RC031) D-ABYL, by Matt Cawby

And in bragging news, I'm going on a business trip to China tomorrow for a week, and I scored an upper deck business class seat in a Philippines 747-400. I'm pretty excited as I've never gotten to fly in the upper deck before. #ballin

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Predicting the End of Year Deliveries

First, it's been tough keeping the chart 100% accurate lately. It's not just the many unpainted, un-engined frames that have been sitting around KPAE. There are very few flight line shots taken to reference these days. I'm left to pick 747s from the corners of cropped photos targeting less interesting planes to keep the chart up to date, and I often have to guess or speculate. I appreciate any missed observations left in the comments section.

One mystery is the white rudder 747 on the tower apron, and the other parked in stall 120 (at least as of a couple days ago). One has got to be NCA line 1489, but all other frames that would be white rudder tails have been verified as being painted. Even if Cargolux line 1491 just rolled out unpainted with white rudder, these two frames have been showing up in pictures for at least a week or two. Unless it was a really well timed swap?

Line 1416 LX-ECV for Cargolux is in service with a white paint job. She's flying in to Atlanta tonight. Anyone there to get some pics?

Ok, now down to the main topic. How many 747-8s will deliver in 2013? So far we've had 17 frames delivered. Looking towards the end of the year, these are the remaining possibilities (notice they are all freighters):
  1. 1469 (RC524) JA14KZ for Nippon Cargo Airlines
  2. 1479 (RC525) JA15KZ for Nippon Cargo Airlines
  3. 1482 (RC605) VQ-BRJ for AirBridgeCargo
  4. 1483 (RC561) B-LJK for Cathay
  5. 1484 (RC562) B-LJL for Cathay
  6. 1486 (RC563) B-LJM cor Cathay
  7. 1481 (RC548)  ? for Korean Air Cargo
  8. 1488 (RC549)  ? for Korean Air Cargo
  9. 1485 (RC526) JA16KZ for Nippon Cargo Airlines
  10. 1487 (RC527) JA17KZ for Nippon Cargo Airlines
  11. 1490 (RC510) LX-VCJ for Cargolux
  12. 1489 (RC528) JA18KZ for Nippon Cargo Airlines
  13. 1437 (RC573)
  14. 1491 (RC511) LX-VCK for Cargolux
I've color code them by likelihood. 1 and 2 will most likely deliver because they're ready, and NCA stated they plan on three total this year; so far they've only taken one (line 1421, which by the way just entered service). 4, 5, and 6 will probably deliver because Cathay plans on having all three before the end of the year, and they all have engines and paint jobs. The one major thing that could stop these deliveries is the FAA failing to punctually certify the big changes these frames incorporate. 3 will deliver because ABC just parked a 747-400F to make room for it. 7 might deliver to Korean, as it has engines and it's tentatively scheduled to deliver in December. 8 might take 7's spot, or less likely join it. 9, 10, and 12 probably won't deliver because NCA said they plan on taking the next three frames in 2014, and they don't have engines yet. 11 and 14 are distant possibilities, and 13 is another distant possibility, depending on if it has a customer and what their timetable would be.

According to 747Classic on, the following are officially scheduled for December, but Boeing schedules are fluid:

L/N1482 RC605 ABC
L/N1483 RC561 Cathay
L/N1484 RC562 Cathay
L/N1486 RC563 Cathay
L/N1488 RC549 KAL

So low end 20, absolute high end 31. Most likely, we're looking at around 23-24 747-8s being delivered for the year of 2013.

Update: It's been pointed out that NCA's plan to take three frames in 2013 is actually for their fiscal year, which ends in April 2014, so line 1479 could slip past December.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Tribute to a Really Overdue Delivery (Lucky) #7: Line 1416 (747-400)

Line 1416. The poor 747-400ERF, neglected, unloved, unwanted. Four and a half years old. Sitting in the desert for over four of those long, lonesome years...

OK, I'm being overly sappy. I'll stop. But the BIG NEWS today is that line 1416 is officially in business with new owner Cargolux. She flew out of Pinal Airpark straight to Anchorage and into service.

Line 1416 is now Cargolux LX-ECV.

A little trip down memory lane is called for. Line 1416 rolled out of the FAL late February 2009.

At the fuel dock after roll out, by Matt Cawby

At the compass rose, by Matt Cawby

She had her first flight March 21st, 2009. She was supposed to be 9K-DAA for LoadAir Cargo, along with sister ship line 1419 (the last 747-400 built).

Lining up for first flight, by Matt Cawby

Returning from first flight.

A test flight in April 2009, by Matt Cawby

LoadAir Cargo went out of business, and Line 1416 was given the Boeing tail N797BA. She took a short hop to Vancouver before heading to Pinal Airpark, where she ended up sitting for over four years. 

Leaving for storage, by Matt Cawby

There were suitors along the way, but every deal fell through for one reason or another. Her sister in exile, line 1419 was bought by Kalitta in 2011 and has been cruising the skies ever since.

Behind line 1419.

On the right, next to sister ship line 1419, by AirTeamImages

All alone now...

After a promising deal with Qantas Freight fell through earlier this year, it seemed 1416 would never fly again, but Cargolux must have seized the opportunity and swooped in to the rescue.

Returning from a first flight out of storage, by azspyder

Cargolux is a great operator for line 1416. They heavily utilize their 747s, and send them to all four corners of the Earth. I can't wait to catch her in full livery at various airports around the world. Overdue is an understatement in this case, but it makes this delivery so much more savory.

Delivery flight. Arriving in Anchorage.

Line 1416 to Cargolux?

Update: Still haven't been able to ascertain exactly which frame this is. Flight radar lists no registration.

This is pure speculation right now, but a 747-400 just left Pinal Airpark, flight CLX789, headed for Anchorage. As far as I can tell, there were no Cargolux 747-400s at Pinal. Also, 1416 went for a test flight about four weeks ago, which is enough time for a paint job. Is it possible Cargolux picked up line 1416?

Monday, November 4, 2013

One Million Dollars Per Year

The title sums up the results of the performance improvements being introduced on new 747-8s. One million in fuel costs saved per frame, per year. The improvements itemized:
  • 7,700 lbs removed
  • 1.8% fuel burn reduction in the engines
  • Tail tank enabled, with software modification to keep fuel in the tail to reduce the need for trim.
  • FMC improvements, including RNP AR and improved climb functions
  • 3.5% fuel burn improvement overall
These improvements will all be delivering this year. Boeing plans on continuing to improve the performance of the 747-8 as well. In a few more years it might actually take off with empty tanks and land twelve hours later with them overflowing.

In other rumors, Cathay's 14th frame has shown up on the charts, although it has yet to be ordered. Another interesting thing is line 1435 (RC021), the current test frame for the above improvements and former Lufthansa D-ABYE, is once again listed internally as earmarked for Lufthansa. This could be a clerical error, but I'm hopeful Lufthansa has had a change of heart.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Tribute to an Overdue Delivery #6: Line 1421

The final 747-8F test frame, and the second 747-8 built, line 1421 (RC521) JA11KZ for Nippon Cargo Airlines delivered on Wednesday and flew away today. Rolled out in early 2010, it took almost four years for this frame to enter service. The backlog is quite small now, with just two old frames waiting to find customers and deliver.

Second in this picture (behind line 1420), back in 2009.

First paint job.

Flight testing at Boeing Field

Flight testing around KPAE

Returning from refurbishment in Texas.

Leaving Portland with NCA livery.
Tons more pictures here.