The test program for the Boeing 777X is gradually increasing and a third jet has been added to the fleet. I stopped by Boeing Field because all three jets were scheduled to fly on this day. Having seen the first two, I was hoping for the third since I haven’t got any shots of it and its livery which is different to the first two. Sadly, I was to be disappointed as they scrubbed the flight.
However, the first two jets did fly. They were both already airborne by the time I got there. The arrival times back for both were supposed to be pretty close but you can’t put too much stock in those times as things on test will be what they will be. I headed to the arrival end for the first of them. It wasn’t that late so the light wasn’t ideal but it was still a bit better as we were well passed the solstice and heading to the equinox. Happy to take the shot of course.
I moved to the other end of the field when the second jet came in. I wasn’t interested in repeating the shot I had already taken (plus I had shot this jet in similar circumstances before) so some images at the other end seemed worthwhile. They landed short but had clearance for a high speed run on the runway so that brought them down to where I was. Fortuitously, they took the exit directly in front of me. I missed the transition of the wingtips while changing cameras. The tips were down in one set of shots but were folded as they taxied off the runway. The wide angle view is a nice one to get of something so large.
An early ISAP symposium included a visit to Lockheed Martin’s facility at Fort Worth. We were there to see the first F-35 test aircraft, AA-1. In addition, they had arranged to bring Glacier Girl, a P-38 Lightning, to be there too to provide two Lockheed Lightnings. However, while I was up the scissor lift that was provided for us to get an elevated view, I looked the opposite direction. There were two interesting looking airframes parked up. One was an old F-16 that had probably been used for test duties. The other was not a flyable plane but it was some sort of test rig for the STOVL configuration of the F-35 – what would become the F-35B. A couple of cool looking items that you wouldn’t normally get to see.
I heard a rumor about a Gulfstream test jet being at Boeing Field. With a Saturday morning free, I decided to head over and investigate. One of the things I had seen suggested it might be the G700. Since that had only recently had its first flight, I was surprised it would be operating out of the west coast rather than Georgia so I decided to try and see it. Of course, it wasn’t the G700. Instead it was a G600 test airframe. Since I had not seen a G600, I was still pleased to catch it. The weather was crummy and it was due to go back to Savannah so I was wondering what sort of shots I would get.
Like any test jet, it didn’t depart when scheduled. It was an hour later than planned when it rolled to the runway and then hung around at the hold point for ages. Then it turned and taxied down towards the end where I was. I couldn’t see it departing in the opposite direction because SeaTac was still flowing to the south and wasn’t showing any sign of changing. It came down past me to the end of the runway and then turned around and taxied back the way it had come. After all of this it departed into the overcast.
Given that I was expected a departure from the far end and a swift climb into the gloom, I hadn’t expected to get many shots I was pleased with. Therefore, this sojourn down to my end and back provided plenty of chances to get a bunch of shots so this turned out to be a lot luckier than expected. I am also a sucker for a jet in primer so thrown in a few instrumented panels for test purposes and I am a happy camper!
A lunchtime jaunt up to Everett was the result of ATS carrying out a test flight of a Janet 737. I got to the field with a little time in hand and was looking on FlightRadar24 for the position of the inbound jet when I saw something orbiting north of me up near Concrete. It turned out to be one of the Mitsubishi MRJ90 test aircraft. It was flying a series of patterns up there. Since they carry out the test flying from Moses Lake, I wasn’t so surprised. More importantly, I figured that they would head back to base when they were done.
Imagine my surprise when the radio burst to life with their callsign setting up on the approach. A Janet was worth the trip but the MRJ was truly a bonus. I have only seen one before and that was a delivery flight from Japan to Moses Lake that staged through San Jose and was in the blog here. I hoped it was a different jet, but wasn’t going to gripe if it wasn’t (and I was pretty sure it wasn’t based on recollection of the registration).
The jet hummed its way down the approach and landed in front of me (and a few others that either knew or had got similarly lucky). It them taxied back and held in front of FHCAM. There was a departing Embraer in front of it so I figured it was waiting for them. However, they departed and it didn’t move for a while. I needed to head back so was desperately hoping it would go soon. Just as I was about to give up, they released the brakes and taxied to the hold. The departure was pretty quiet with the Pratt GTFs not making much noise at all.
The original colors of the jet appear to have been overtaken by test markings. There were some details around the engine inlets and the upper rear fuselage had been painted black. I suspected this might be for testing of water ingestion to help visualize the water flow but if anyone knows better what the purpose is, please do let me know.