Japan is one of the places where it is easy to find a Boeing 777-300. The 777-200 sold in good numbers and Boeing stretched the airframe to create the -300. It was not a big seller but was picked up in the Asian market where capacity was important but range was not such a concern. When Boeing launched the 777-300ER, they unlocked the range and payload capabilities that were in demand and it sold very well – usurping the 747 as the long range high capacity jet of choice.
The -300 has been retired from some of its original operators but Japan Air Lines still flies them. They are most easily identified by the original wingtip shape as opposed to the rake tip that the 300ER has. They also have the original engine choices as opposed to the GE-90 only 300ER. I saw some at Haneda and grabbed some shots. With the A350s joint the JAL fleet, I wonder whether the 777-300s will soon be heading to the yard.
This 767 was parked right beneath me at the terminal in Haneda. The crew seemed busy at work fixing something on the wipers on the first officer’s windshield side. I watched them at work for a while before they seemed happy to have the jet fixed and ready to go on its next service.
Japan Air Lines has been taking delivery of a bunch of Airbus A350s recently. I was interested to see them at Haneda where they seem to be based as opposed to Narita. Interestingly, for a plane with substantial range, they are being used from a lot of short sectors at the moment. On the station platforms, they had some posters about a special A350 that was celebrating the 20th anniversary of a Japanese boyband, Arashi.
Fortunately, this jet was being used on internal flights and it was due back in to Haneda when I was there. With the crummy weather, the JAL terminal roof top viewing deck was fine for photos in the afternoon since, with no sun, there was no backlighting. The A350 came in to view and stopped in a cloud of spray from reverse thrust and then taxied back and parked right under me. Plenty of opportunities to get some shots of it.
I nearly missed this one. A JAL 737 was taxiing in at Haneda and the guy next to me seemed very interested in it. He was shooting it when it was still a long way off and I didn’t know why. As it got closer, I could see two Japanese flags flying from the cockpit windows. I figured it must be something so grabbed a few shots. As soon as it was gone, he packed up and left. Talking to someone the following day, he told me that JAL currently has the royal transportation contract and that includes some flights on the narrow body fleet. I guess someone royal was on this flight.
On my way home I wanted to stop into SFO to get something specific. JAL operates their new 787s into SFO and the daily arrival is around 4pm. I had seen a few shots from people catching it coming in and had been planning to try and get it for a while. This was a good opportunity since the weather was looking nice. I got there slightly ahead of time and just in time to catch an EVA 777 coming in.
It was a quiet time at SFO so I was able to relax and watch the activity along the shoreline between arrivals. A few departures looked interesting but the light was too far round to get a decent shot of anything that wasn’t departing from the 28s. A few heavies did go from there and I made sure to shoot them for practice.
The JAL 787 showed up as planned and so I got my shots. I was a little unsure about lens choice. SFO is a place where the 500mm can be very useful but it is too much for the longest aircraft when they are abeam you. The 787 is a deceptive aircraft that looks smaller than it really is so I was a little unsure as to whether to risk the long lens and miss the shot. I started out with the 100-400 which was fine for the part where it crossed the threshold and the aircraft holding for departure. Things looked about right so I quickly swapped back to the 500 and it was not too much. Good to know in future.
I was about to head home after the arrival when I looked up and saw a four engine jet passing over heading to the approach. A quick check on Flightradar24 confirmed it was a Swiss A340 so I figured I could manage ten more minutes. Once it was on the ground, a Virgin and BA 747 pairing were taxiing out. The Virgin jet went off 01 so was not well lit from my side and the BA jet spent so long taxiing it was clear the sun would be below the hills before it got going so I called it a day.
When I was a small kid, I had a book called Pictorial History of Aircraft. This was the 1970s and so the Boeing 747 was still a relatively new kid on the block. It certainly wasn’t the times of the 400 series being knocked out at the rate of one a week. The pictures in this book showed Japan Air Lines (JAL) as an operator of both passenger and freighter versions of the jet.
As time passed by, JAL grew its fleet substantially and was for a long time the largest operator of 747s in the world. Therefore, it is hard to come to terms with the fact that the poor financial state of JAL combined with the introduction of more efficient big twins has meant the 747 has gone from JAL’s passenger operations. It is odd to know I won’t see one again (except perhaps at a storage yard). Every once in a while the airline industry has a big change – the end of Pan Am is one that springs to mind. For me, this is one of those moments.
Anyway, they are gone but I have a few shots of them to remember them by. I wonder what will be next to go?!