The Chart:

Friday, August 8, 2014

First Flight - JA18KZ

Line 1489 (RC528) JA18KZ has been sitting around for a long time... Today she finally flew. She's probably destined for the desert, to be delivered late in the year.


  1. Might go to ABC apparently, but I don't have a link I'm afraid. :(

    1. I wonder. ABC and NCA have swapped/leased frames from each other before (with newer 747-400Fs), but I'm hoping more for ABC taking up 1437. I have a feeling NCA will want these three by end of year, and I have a feeling the third and fourth Silk Way frames are going to whoever is taking 1520 and 1521 (China Air? Asiana?) Lots of speculation here.

    2. Yeah, CargoFacts seems to be speculating that it will be a SW or NCA frame, but I agree with you. I think that ABC will be placing an order, since there was talk from them earlier this year of going to an all 747-8 fleet. If they need one by October though, it will have to be an existing frame, and 1437 is currently in Victorville getting work done (new engines?), so hopefully that means she'll be the October delivery, and that ABC will be ordering more than just her.

      I think the SW/GEACS frames (still not positive which are which) are indeed going to the same place that 1520 and 1521 are. Perhaps the Chinese leasing firm that was discussed before.

      Also, ABC is replacing one of their older -400ERFs with the Jade Cargo one that has been sitting for the past couple of years or so that's good to see.

    3. Interesting. It seems Cargo Facts has updated their article. They no longer speculate that it will be the SW or NCA frame, but unit 60117. I don't know what that number means, do you? They also state that it was a unit that was for a customer that Boeing expected to have firmed up earlier this year, but since negotiations are still ongoing, the frame has simply been sitting there and waiting. I wonder if it is 1437 then, since wasn't she rumored to be sold earlier this year? If not, then it may make sense for 1501/1502 to be that frame, however this would also indicate that there is indeed another customer that those 4 frames are supposed to be for.

      Also, they clearly quote ABC's Executive President as stating this first frame in October will be the first step of their new fleet plan, which will see them replace all their -400s with -8s and become an all 747-8 carrier. Good to see that bit of news from earlier in the year confirmed.

    4. This implies that they are going to place a top up order doesn't it? If so, then how many frames are likely? Also I still do not know the identity of the the 2 UFO's on Boeing's O/D page and it is not Air China. Any news on that? Anybody?

    5. Ah, I figured out that 60117 is indeed LN 1501, so that means they are in discussions with a customer for at least 4 frames, but since the negotiations have taken longer, they may use 1501 to get ABC their October frame.

      Yes, I do feel it means there will be a top-up order, however it may happen in phases, and not all at once.

      Are you talking about the 2 UFOs on the 747-8 O/D report, or the 2 UFOs on the 747-8F O/D report?

      The first is unknown, but is strongly speculated to be the March 2013 Air China order. The second, if you look at the Deliveries report, lists them as delivering in March and June of 2013, on dates that correspond to the frames that went to Saudi Arabian Cargo.

    6. Well actually only on the orders page. I have doubts about these being for Air China, as those birds for that RFP are already sequenced in the firing order for production. so it can't be those frames. Any thoughts?

    7. So you are talking about the 747-8 O/D report, not the 747-8F O/D report, which also has 2 Unidentified Customers.

      I also originally thought it may be a new order, but since it was placed on the books at the end of 2013, and there were really no rumors at the time, I became convinced that they are simply the Air China orders awaiting formal government announcement.

      I think the fact that Air China 6 and 7 are allocated in the firing order makes it more likely that those 2 unidentified are for Air China, not less likely. If they are not for Air China, it's even more confusing, as why would Boeing be allocating slots for an order that is not firm?

    8. Well I'm not sure that Air China would need such an approval as the number they ordered is only 2 frames, not the massive 17 frame order that Hainan placed. Also They may have already demonstrated that they have requirement by getting approval for the initial order of 5 frames and that might be sufficient for them to place a small top up order to cater for some slight projected growth.

      I do also remember Boeing stating that this mysterious customer was not a current 747 operator. Meaning that Air China is not that customer. but of course I could be wrong on all accounts (as usual)..

    9. Ah, well remember the 2 frames was part of a much larger order including 31 other aircraft. Also, remember the original CA order was for 5 frames, by themselves, and they took just over 18 months for firm up.

      Besides, like I said, why would Boeing allocate the production line numbers if they weren't firm at some level?

      I do remember the King 5 news report where they were talking about being in discussions with an operator that doesn't currently operate the 747, however whoever that customer was, I believe they were talking about a 4 frame order. They exact wording was, at the time, Boeing had 3 orders from Cathay, 2 from Silk Way, and 11 commitments. Those commitments were 5 from Korean Air, 2 from Air China, and that left 4 for the unknown operator. At this time, I don't know if that never came to fruition, or if they are still working on converting them from commitments to something firmer.

      Now, all this doesn't preclude the 2 Unidentified frames from being for someone completely different, I'm just trying to point out what people currently think is the most likely scenario.

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    11. Whilst I agree that that your postulation is correct, It does not make any sense to me, partially because of the listing in the firing order, and also because of risk. Why would Boeing list 2 supposed UFO's and then put the identity of those UFO's in the firing order? If they do not firm their order ala Air China, Boeing would be left with 2 Whitetail aircraft that have no buyer. So realistically I have concluded, these 2 UFO's are not for Air China.

      Look at it from this perspective, Boeing's Marketing Arm, must have a series of checks and balances, that if satisfied, will qualify a commitment to become a real airplane. Now the identity as shown in the firing order is Air China no. 6 & 7. If these are the UFO's, it means that the Air China label on them could be swapped to the real identity of that customer Airline, when the Airplane is rolled out the door. They did this switcheroo with the SW frames so it is not beyond them to do it again

    12. As I said, all we have here is speculation. Occam's Razor tells us that most likely, the Unidentified orders are Air China. I agree it is odd to me that they would list them as unidentified but on the firing line, actually put their customer code, however if we go back in the past for all of Boeing's aircraft, I believe we will find that it has been done before. The reason it was likely done this way is that the Boeing O/D report is an official statement of who has ordered what. If the Chinese Government says they cannot officially announce it yet, then it has to stay unidentified there. However, if CAAC or whoever it is that needs to provide the additional payments to get the frames started is willing to do that since they want the frames earlier, and the government is willing to let that happen, then you can have this situation.

      It isn't Boeing's marketing department, but I'm guessing a series of them, most importantly the financial side of things, that dictates whether or not a frame gets added to the firing order. I would think that depends on certain amounts of money being committed to and handed over.

      If Boeing really wanted to keep a customer secret, they could either not attach a customer code, utilizing TBC apparently, or use 662, which is what they have listed for 1501/1502/1520/1521. Also, regarding the SW frames, you are correct in that they don't seem to be going to Silk Way anymore, however that was a clear change probably due to Silk Way deferring delivery since they were having some struggles getting financing for their two leased frames from GECAS. When they became NTUs, Boeing changed their operator code to 662. While I think you are right in that it is *possible* that Boeing could be doing this intentionally with the CA #6 and #7 frames, I don't think it is very likely.

      As much as I would like to have 2 new 747-8I orders, as well as potentially a new customer, I think the simplest explanation is by far the most likely here. Boeing, due to government bureaucracy, cannot officially announce the Air China top up order. However, due to needing to fill firing order slots, and perhaps also due to Air China wanting their frames quicker if possible, they needed to start production on those frames now.

    13. I'm still not swayed by your reasoning, but have to concede due to lack of evidence to the contrary.

      The firing order listing is a publicly available listing. The problems you have described in your post is something that Boeing would discuss with AC in confidence behind closed doors. Yes this has happened before and yes there are not many orders to fill, still, to me at least, Boeing would have been better to announce the 2 frames as UFO's first and then reveal the identity at roll out, because by then the order would have most likely been approved. It doesn't make any sense to do what they have done on the listing, because of the confusion caused.

      Taken from another perspective, how did the speculation of the 2 Air China frames arise before the listing? Simply because someone said that there was a 2 frame order for Air China. Later Boeing announces an order for 2 UFOs. The 2 events are mutually exclusive. There is only one common factor here and that is the number of frames. To anyone who was looking at these 2 announcements, they would at first not associate one with the other. Now to make it worse, Boeing puts the as yet to be approved order in the firing order.

      Now when you go to wiki, type 747-8 and look at the orders table, it lists the 2 UFO's as a different order. Also with the knowledge that there is the commitment from Air China, one can put 2 and 2 together to come up with the scenario as you describe. I agree, that with available evidence that what you say is most likely, but ask why on earth can there be only this explanation available for the numbers on Boeing's O/D.

      Is it not possible that because the orders are not approved and not announced, that they are not listed? That the UFO's are approved and listed and that Air China is a cover line to hide the real identity. Also if this was the case, would it not be plausible that the only party that could do this was the Chinese themselves, hence revealing the host country of those UFO's?

      We will have to wait and see (as usual). :(