I had not heard of Blue Air prior to seeing this Max on test. It is a nice thing about living near Boeing’s production facilities that you see jets that will be heading somewhere you don’t go. In this case, I read not long afterwards that this jet was the first delivery of a Max to Blue Air and that they are a low cost carrier in Belarus. I guess I now know about another airline that I previously was unaware of. Looked quite nice in these colors (when you consider how bland airline colors can be there days).
The Bell 206 JetRanger was an immensely successful single turbine helicopter and was ubiquitous for decades. However, the type was dated and more modern helicopters had come along and taken market share. Bell needed to come up with a solution and that was the Bell 505 which has since become branded as the Jet Ranger X. The project was not as smooth as intended but it has now entered more widespread service.
That didn’t mean I had actually seen one, though, until recently when I got to photograph one at Boeing Field. At this point, trouble has reached the program again with fatigue failures in the controls for the right seat meaning you aren’t supposed to fly one solo from that seat until a redesigned control is fitted. This will get addressed, of course, but it is another issue for the type. The example I saw was marked as Experimental so I wonder what purpose it was being used for. According to the FAA, it is registered to Bell but what it is doing is anybody’s guess. Putting aside its technical issues, my biggest problem with the 505 is that I think it doesn’t look very good. It reminds me of a tadpole and seems to have a slight feel of a toy design compared to the other types in this class (or the original JetRanger). That is not going to make or break it of course – just a personal observation.
Seeing a KC-46 at Boeing Field is not necessarily such a surprise. However, seeing one parked up at the FBO was more unusual. I am not sure whether the aircraft had been accepted and was ready for delivery or had actually come across country for a visit. Either way, a USAF crew was about to fly it back across the country. The size of the taxiways meant that it had to cross the runway to taxi up to the departure end where it could line up and head off on its way east. Was it a delivery? Who knows?
I stopped for lunch and to take some calls at Boeing Field. While I was eating my sandwich, a US Navy P-8 rolled out of the Boeing military ramp to head off on test. With Seattle on a southerly flow, the P-8 needed to taxi the length of the field for departure. It came past me so the sandwich had to take a pause while I got a couple of shots.
Prior to take off, they carried out a rejected takeoff and backtracked for the real departure. One a sunny day like this, the heat haze looking that far up the field is pretty bad so not real chance to get a good shot. The departure itself was a lot better. By the time it rotated, it was close enough to mean the haze, while still present, was a lot less troublesome. As soon as it climbed out, the problem went away. Its interesting that the low light angles of the winter are already being replaced with a transition to the harsher high sun but it is still worth being out.
I’ve posted shots of Omni’s 767s on the ground and on the approach at Boeing Field as well as showing up at Paine Field. This is a variation on a theme I guess since this one was arriving at Boeing Field after a short flight from SeaTac. This time I was up on the hill so was able to see it touch down from an elevated position. It’s nice to get wide body activity when up on the hill since you are a bit far away and a bigger jet is a clearer subject to photograph.
The day was fast running out and I was thinking about heading for home but one of the two 777X test aircraft out showed signs of heading home to BFI so I figured I would wait around for it. It looked like it would get back before the end of the light with a bit of margin so I decided it was good to wait. I have not shot a 777 landing from this location so wanted to get the shot.
However, while the time was looking good compared to sunset, it was not looking so good when thinking of the weather. There were some dark and stormy clouds off to the southwest and they seemed to be getting closer. As the 777X got to the city, I figured a coat was in order since it looked like the rain might arrive first.
Indeed it did and this brought the light levels way down. As it came down the approach, it was shrouded in rain and made for a less than distinct shape to shoot. Certainly not what I had been hoping for. However, why wait all that time and not take the shots. It touched down in the heavy rain but at least the reduced distance meant things weren’t as obscured. It rolled out and turned off the runway but I decided I was already done and headed to the car and dry warmth.
While awaiting the NOAA arrival, I happened to shoot a 737 that was coming directly overhead on its way to SeaTac. I don’t shoot much of these flights but every once in a while, I do like to try and get a symmetrical shot from directly beneath the jet just for the fun of it. As this one came over, I just assumed it was another Alaska 737-900ER since they come in all the time. However, when I looked closely at the shot, I realized it was a United jet and, more importantly, it was actually a Max9. Turns out it was on its delivery flight from Boeing Field so must have only left a few minutes before.
A big bizjet is an appealing looking thing to shoot but the unfortunate thing is that they are frequently quite blandly painted. If I owned a $60m jet, I probably wouldn’t want to draw too much attention to myself (other than by owning a $60m jet) so I guess it shouldn’t be such a surprise. However, when one is painted up in a colorful scheme, it is a nice change from the usual.
This G650ER is one I think I have seen before but it was making a trip from Boeing Field to somewhere, probably well within the range capabilities of the aircraft. Given how quickly it got off the ground, I imagine it was not heavily loaded. It taxied up from the south end of the ramp near Modern Aviation and then held for quite a while for arriving traffic and for its airways clearance. When it got on its way, it rotated abeam me which worked out pretty well.
A couple of years ago, a NOAA Gulfstream was operating in the area for a while and I managed to get some shots of it that were shared in this post. That Gulfstream had a couple of interested radomes fitted. Another part of the NOAA fleet is a WP-3D Orion. It also has some interesting radomes and antennae installed. It is based in Florida – there are usually storms to follow on that side of the country. However, the Pacific has its share of storms too and NOAA studies them as well.
Consequently, NOAA recently deployed the WP-3D to Alaska to pay attention to some weather activity out in the ocean. They staged it through Boeing Field to split the journey up there in two. I was waiting for it when it arrived. The conditions had been pretty overcast but, with a late in the day arrival, the cloud cover was starting to break up and the sun popped out just in time for its arrival. An interesting airframe with a nice color scheme. It headed on the following day but I couldn’t be there for that.
There is plenty of the 777X on this blog. The delays for the test programs and the likelihood that service entry will slip in to 2024 means that test aircraft are all that is going to be available for a while yet. Even so, with four test aircraft in use, there is plenty of test activity underway. One of the more dramatic testing processes is the minimum unstick testing.
The test is to determine the maximum lift at takeoff in various configurations. This allows calculation of the required take off speeds and the runway distance required. The test involves accelerating the aircraft more slowly than usual and pulling the noise fully up. The tail is dragged along the runway and the aircraft will then get airborne once it reaches sufficient speed.
The test requires a decent runway length and, presumably, nothing much off the end should anything go awry. To protect the aircraft, a tailskid is fitted to the rear fuselage to allow the crew to drag it along the runway surface without damaging the airframe. The skid frame is a metallic structure but I am not sure what the wearing surface is for the 777X. In the past, wood has been used as the abradable element.
WH001, the first 777-9 airframe, is the one that is going to be used for these tests. It has been fitted with the skid. I’m not sure whether the testing is already underway or whether it is ready for future use. I shot it on departure on a couple of occasions.