Boeing was supposed to be making the first flight of the fourth 777X one Saturday, so I headed up to Paine Field to see it. The weather was not great with low clouds and rain and it was below minima for the flight, so we didn’t get to see the 777X. However, an American Airlines 787 was doing a test flight and it took off in the damp conditions.
As they powered up the jet, the moisture on the surface of the runway got sucked up in the vortex that forms between the inlet and the ground at high power and low forward speed. A dull day makes it easier to see this as well, so I was able to get a few shots of it. The lack of flying that day was a disappointment but this meant the days wasn’t a total bust.
Around the world you can find plenty of parked Boeing 787s at the moment. Problems with the Rolls Royce Trent engines for this type mean that airlines have been pulling engines from various airframes in order to keep others flying. ANA uses Rolls engines on their fleet and I saw this aircraft being pulled around a taxiway at Haneda. Both engines were off making it look quite odd. It will certainly be a lot lighter than before but, somehow, I think that isn’t going to make it more efficient!
I have shown a bunch of images of the Dreamlifter bringing in components to Paine Field for the production line including shots of the unloading of parts. During a more recent visit, I happened to be there when they were moving a pair of wings from the storage facility to the production facility across the airfield. They had escort vehicles to lead and follow up as they crossed the runway. The wings look a lot less impressive in the travel jigs. The completed 787 looks substantial but the wings alone don’t provide the same impact.
Damp and cloudy days are not always
ideal for aviation photography but they can provide some interesting
options. One weekend I was up at Everett
when they were approaching from the south.
The jets broke out of the cloud at quite low level but there was some
light from the side coming under the clouds.
The damp air meant that the jets were pulling some conspicuous vortices
as they flared for landing. They were a
long way off but it was possible to get some shots of them. The 747 produced vortices that were easier to
see but the 787s didn’t do too badly either.
My last time shooting at SFO, I got
shots of a Virgin Atlantic 787 arriving.
Crossing shots are not unusual at SFO as the jets on approach will often
have departing jets in the background.
The Virgin jet had this. It also
had a second crossing shot a little earlier on the approach. A jet heading over the bay to pick up the
approach further down was directly behind the 787 just after it passed Coyote
A nice early winter sunny day is a pleasant surprise in the Pacific Northwest and I was able to head across to Everett to see what was happening. Boeing is busy building Dreamliners too though and a couple were on test flights while I was there. One was Oman Air. The scheme is an interesting change from the boring white liveries. You can certainly hear the jets as they land because the test flight involves the deployment of the Ram Air Turbine and it buzzes away when they go by. The other arrival will deserve its own post.
I caught this Gulf Air 787-9 as it returned from a test flight to Paine Field. It was at the end of the SkyFair event so the crew will have noticed that there were a lot of people on hand to witness their landing. Not a particular problem of course but probably one of the few landings of the Boeing production tests to get a large crowd.
With visitors in town, I took them to the Boeing factory tour at Everett. I know this might seem like I was doing this for my own benefit but I think they were happy to go and it helped to be doing something indoors on a rainy day. When we got there, we arrived in time to see a bunch of jets landing. There was a stream of them coming in it seemed and I was surprised to see that there were 787-10s coming in. The Dash 10 is not built at Everett. They are only assembled in Charleston so they wouldn’t normally be at Everett. Some Hainan 787-9s had also made the trip.
It turns out that they were evacuations from the impending hurricane. South Carolina was in the path of a major hurricane, Florence, heading towards the southeast coast of the US. Apparently, Boeing had decided to get the jets that were airworthy out of there to minimize the risk of damage. I suspect they would move more if they could but this was the best that they could do. The thing I found interesting was that they brought the jets all the way across the country and that there wasn’t somewhere closer that they could have as a refuge. Perhaps it is easier logistically to manage but it is a long flight to make.
Qantas has decorated previous aircraft with liveries that encompass aborigine art. Their Wunala Dreaming aircraft was well known around the world and, in an age when airline liveries tend to be rather bland, these colorful jets are a welcome change. They have taken a similar route with one of their new Boeing 787-9s and I saw it at Paine Field during test flying. It came in from the south and executed a go around from relatively low level.
Then they caught me out by heading north to turn and make an approach from the opposite direction. This required some rather swift repositioning by me. In fact, I got to the parking lot as they were on final approach and, rather than park, I just pulled to the side, ran up the bank, grabbed the shot and then got back in the car to park properly. It was tight but it worked out okay.
I had a couple of encounters with the same jet while it was on test. (It’s brake dust already showed up in this post.) This 787-9 is, by now, part of the Korean Air fleet. I saw it depart from Paine Field one evening in pleasant light. The low sun angle really brought out the shape of the underside of the wing in a way that normally you just don’t get to appreciate. It showed up a second time while I was out to get the farewell flight of the Delta 747 which I wrote about here. It came in at a similar time and the wet weather helped to make the pale blue color scheme pop a bit more.