Just a quick post this time. No big description. While up the old tower at SFO, the Qatar Amiri Flight Boeing 747-8 BBJ was parked across the runway. As private jets go, this is pretty well up there. I haven’t been inside so I don’t know whether it is luxurious but I am willing to bet it doesn’t have a utilitarian feel in there. I doubt I will get to find out though.
The Boeing 747-8 has not been a terribly successful program. Boeing decided to update the 747 family with new engines and revisions to the wing along with a stretch to the fuselage. The resulting jet was delayed by its own and other program issues and it came around at a time when there were few passenger airlines interested and the freighter market was taking a kicking. The result has been anemic sales and a production rate that has steadily reduced as a result of the low demand. However, from a technical point of view, it is a nice upgrade.
The wing came in for a lot of attention and was significantly redesigned. The most conspicuous change is the introduction of the swept tips common to many Boeing designs these days. Less obvious is that the flap system was completely redesigned. The original 747 flaps, carried through on the 747-400 are very complex. Sections are triple slotted. The Boeing aerodynamicists came up with a single slot design to replace this which apparently has good performance but I imagine is a lot simpler to make and maintain. Only from the rear on approach can you see the difference. These shots compare a 747-400 from Air New Zealand with a Korean Air 747-8 and you can see for yourself how much simpler the new design is.
I nearly got myself late for an arrival when waiting for a Korean 747-8 a while back as I mentioned in this post. I thought at the time that it was silly to focus on the Korean jet since it would be showing up on a regular basis. Sure enough, I have seen them again since. This one I got at Coyote Point with some nice early morning light. The low light angle meant the underside of the jet got a lot of light and the plane seemed to glow to me as I was shooting it. A nice way to get this type again.
While it was part of the original plan, I found myself going through Dallas Love Field recently. I had changed flights and the new routing took my through Dallas and on to Oakland. This was the second time I had flown through Love Field. The previous time I had only my phone with me but no other camera. This had been frustrating because I saw something pretty interesting but couldn’t get a good shot of it. The State of Kuwait has bought a 747-8 to use as a VIP transport and it is being fitted out in Dallas. This time, I did have a camera so was able to get some pictures.
The jet is parked across the runway from the terminal building so it isn’t too close but it is not that far away. It is strange to see it parked outside each time but I guess the interior work does not require it to be indoors. I imagine in the summer, keeping the jet cool while they work is no small task. Fitting out these wide bodies can be a very long process. Everything is custom designed and manufactured and 18 months is not unknown. Given that it is a governmental jet, it might well have even more complexity and could take more time – I don’t know. A search online suggests it may be close to delivery and that is why it is not in a hangar. I didn’t find the arrival date but it does appear to have been there for quite some time. Maybe I was lucky to get it before it leaves?
Today’s pictures involve a shout out to Roger Cain who was the one that let me know that this movement was happening. Nippon Cargo operates a regular service to SFO with their Boeing 747-8 freighter. Normally it arrives early in the morning and departs not long afterwards when the light is just coming up. This does not make for a good opportunity to get a good shot of it. For some reason, it was running late and was showing as due in to SFO shortly before sunset.
I was in the East Bay dealing with the replacement of a tire on my car. Roger called to tell me about it. What I didn’t know was a) whether I would be able to get across in time based on the tire being fixed and b) whether it would actually depart LAX, its previous stop, soon enough to arrive at SFO before it got dark. Driving across the bay to miss the light was not something I wanted to do. Both Roger and I were tracking the jet online and, as I got the car back, he called to say it was taxiing for departure at LAX.
I headed across the bay and got to Roger about ten minutes before it was due to arrive. The light was beginning to go down but it looked like it would work out okay. Sure enough, it came into view just before the sun went below the hills. We got some really nice light on it. I continued to track it to touchdown but, by the time it got to the runway, it was already in shade. It was that close!
LAX is undergoing a multi-year program of rebuilding their runways. They have to make some federally mandated upgrades and they are taking the chance to relocate runway and taxiway alignments to accommodate the A380 more efficiently. This means that one of the four runways is going to be out of use for a long time. At the moment, it is one of the runways on the south side of the field which is the part most easily seen from Imperial Hill. Therefore, I decided to try something new for me which was shooting from the beach.
Most departures head out over the beach from LAS unless the winds are doing something unusual. For aircraft heading off the northerly runways, this is the only place to get a good view and, since those runways are located further west, the jets are lower as they come out. The hills along the shore used to be a series of streets which provided a perfect location for watching the jets. However, this whole area has now been closed off and is inaccessible. It is designated a nature reserve although I bet a few security issues helped with the process.
I hadn’t been down this way before so didn’t know exactly where to go. The combination of the hill and fencing makes the view a little restrictive. However, you can get some interesting angles on the jets as they take off. If the weather is nice, you also get some lovely evening light here although my visit coincided with a fair bit of cloud! I was also constantly guessing the flightpath to avoid the places with palm trees and fences – not always successfully. I include one shot through the fence to show you what you see, even if it isn’t good for getting a shot.
I saw a few of the big jets head out which was quite a bit of fun. If I find myself back, I will have a bit of further exploration down here to see what better spots (and weather hopefully) I can find.
I was in Los Angeles a little while back and managed to get a few shots of things at LAX between other activities. This is a quick picture post. The new international terminal has been opened and the big jets are often arrayed along it at the right time of day. The thing that I find funny about this shot is that the small fin in the middle is a Lufthansa Boeing 747-8. This is not a small plane but the Airbus A380 fins make it look tiny!