Sun Country changed their livery design a while back going with an orange based scheme known as the pumpkin livery. I hadn’t shot one before – I’ve got their older colors and also the Transavia hybrid on leased jets – but it was due in shortly before the National A330 I had gone out for so I was happy to get the bonus. It’s a garish livery, for sure, but it makes a change from the steady stream of stuff we see normally.
Of the four 777X test aircraft, one had eluded me. I had shot the third jet on the ground but never in motion. Supposedly it is the performance test aircraft so the suggestion was that it was being preserved until a lot of configuration work had been done to make sure the engines were in peak shape prior to measuring fuel consumption. Recently I heard that it had been making a bunch of flights. The good news was that these flights – lots of straight line flying out over the Pacific – were quite long and they usually landed in the early evening. A trip after work was on the cards.
The problem with this timing is that is clashes with dinner. Fortunately, I have a wife that is tolerant of my interest (although I think it would be wrong to say she understands my obsession!). Nancy was willing to delay dinner until it came back (and I could then get home). With test flying, there are no guarantees about timing so I would watch the jet head back up the coast only to turn around and go for another run south.
Fortunately, it finally turned back towards Seattle and it was pretty certain it was coming back. The benefit of this waiting is that the light is getting better and better. The downside of shooting the 777X is the size means the long lens is too much for the touchdown area. The wide lens doesn’t do well for the rest of the approach though. Two cameras was the answer. I thought I had one set up right but it turns out I had messed up something with the result that the shots were rather overexposed. Fortunately, RAW came to the rescue and I was able to get the shots back to what I wanted. Now I have them all in flight.
Being close to the 737 production line means you see all sorts of airline markings on jets. That includes seeing an airline you didn’t know anything about. Caribbean Airlines had an upcoming delivery of a 737 Max 8 and it was out on test the day I took off. Not the most dramatic livery but still not too bad. The predecessors, Air Jamaica and BWIA were more colorful, though. It taxied passed me as it headed out so I got shots of it taking off. Later in the day it returned just as I was thinking it would be time to head home. It arrived and then I left. Quite a good end to the day.
I saw an article in Flight about the first P-8 for the Royal Norwegian Air Force having rolled out at Renton. It showed an airframe with a large saint emblem on the fin. I figured this would be worth a look when I could next get to Renton. My day off to chase planes provided that opportunity. Sure enough, there on the flight line was the new P-8. It was sitting next to an RAF P-8 – their eighth example. The RAF jet flew that day but I imagine it won’t be too long before the Norwegian example follows it in to the air so I shall have to keep an eye out for that.
Stopping by Boeing Field en route to somewhere else and finding that a Boeing T-38 chase jet is about to arrive is a lucky coincidence. Turned out even better as I saw a car parked in my normal spot and realized it was my friend David. A chance to chat and catch up while the T-38 made its approach was a lot of fun. Good to see both him and the T-38!
The Air Malta Max jets have been on here before. A subsidiary of Ryanair – everyone’s favorite airline – they have been stored at Renton for a while awaiting the commencement of deliveries after whatever delays have been preventing Ryanair from accepting any jets. With that now addressed, both Ryanair and Air Malta have been taking jets. Buzz still hasn’t accepted any and they still seem to be parked at Renton. I was pleased to have an Air Malta jet come in from a test flight while I was at BFI. It was an overcast day but there was a hint of light when it made its approach. Not great but better than sitting on the ground!
Boeing is not having a good time of it at the moment. The 737 Max saga hurt it significantly and it is still getting in to delivering jets that have been stored for a long time. Some countries have still not cleared it to fly. Meanwhile, the 787 program is in a bit of a hole with a variety of quality problems showing up such that deliveries have almost ground to a halt. Those two programs are supposed to be cash generators at the moment which allow investment in the next program. The KC-46 is also not what you would call a success!
That program is the 777X and it is not going well either. In the aftermath of the Max problems, the certification program is getting significantly dragged out. Initially engine problems delayed first flight but now that is a distant memory as all sorts of other things are meaning that service entry is not likely until early 2024. They should have been in service last year under the original plan.
Production of the last original 777s other than freighters is now complete and production of 777X airframes is well underway. However, there is nothing to do with them for now so a steady stream of green airframes is piling up at Paine Field. The cross runway (it doesn’t seem fair to call it a runway given that Boeing has used it as a parking lot for the last decade) is now filling up with airframes with weights where the engines would be and either no wing tips or they are covered with film to disguise the customer airline markings. Line numbers are taped to the gear doors. It all looks rather familiar and sad. It will be a while before these jets are readied for customers and it will be interesting to see how many Paine Field can hold before the production line churns out even more of them than there is space for.
I missed out on the first flight of the first Max 10 version of the Boeing 737 family. I got to Boeing Field as it was landing on its initial flight which I watched from the freeway as I got close to the airfield. However, a flight test airframe is going to get a lot of use so I knew I would have more opportunities. The Max 10 rolled out a long time ago so the start of flight test was heavily delayed, presumably as a result of the overall Max grounding and the more intense scrutiny being given to Boeing as a result.
I have now seen it flying a few times. It is still flying around with a trailing static cone so they either haven’t completed calibration of the air data system or just haven’t got around to removing the cone yet. It is in Boeing house colors with the large 10 on the fin being the main giveaway. It is longer than the Max 9 but not noticeably so. I’ll need to put them side by side to see where to identify the differences.
With Max flight activity pretty much back to normal at BFI, there is no shortage of opportunities to shoot the jets on the approach. However, since it is now mid summer, the lighting is going to be pretty harsh most of the time. A little later in the day, though, and the light can be improved. I have also taken to using the polarizer to cut down on the harsher glare which is boosting the vibrancy of the shots. I got two of the jets during one visit.
One of them was a Ryanair Max 8-200. This is a special configuration that Ryanair has ordered that has an extra reader fuselage exit added to the -8 fuselage to allow the seat count to be increased. This jet turned out to be the first one to be delivered to the airline shortly after this was taken. The other was an Oman Air jet. Nice colors for the livery of this airline which were enhanced with the lower light angle and the polarizer. Sure, 737s are incredibly common but sometimes it can still be nice to shoot them.