We ended up taking a walk along the shore at Shoreline one morning as a result of our original plan failing to work out. I did take the camera with me because you never know what you might see out in the water. However, water based wildlife didn’t show up (nor did any interesting boats) but we did get some aviation. There was a Fiji Airlines 737 Max up on test and it flew along the sound before turning over us as it headed back to Boeing Field. I have seen to Fiji widebodies at various times but their narrow bodies won’t usually show up in the US so this was a new one for me. Not too close but definitely good to have seen.
The return to airworthiness of the 737 Max was first given in the US so there was a focus on getting airlines deliveries if they were under FAA jurisdiction. I guess we didn’t realize at that point that there would be some follow on issues that resulted in these jets getting grounded but such is the life of the Max watcher. Southwest started taking jets very soon after it was possible and Alaska soon followed with their first delivery – the grounding having come into effect before they had a chance to take their first jet.
On one day when I was watching the activity at Boeing Field, both airlines had aircraft out on test. They were operating under Boeing flight numbers but it wasn’t possible to tell whether they were production flight tests for Boeing or customer acceptance flights. No doubt I shall see a lot more of both operators with these jets in due course – once Boeing sorts out the latest issues and they become a more reliable part of service!
Another new airline for me with this post. Belavia is not an airline I am familiar with but I understand that they are from Belarus. One of their Max jets was on test while I was at Boeing Field and it came in late in the day. I was glad to add another unusual carrier to my library of shots. Nothing special about it otherwise but nice to get something new.
From my new spot, you have a good view of the main civil ramp at Boeing as well as a slightly more distant view of the military ramp. The civil ramp was full of Max jets waiting to get delivered now that customers can start accepting the jets again. Not all agencies have cleared the Max so I guess Boeing was focusing on those that have and aiming to get as much cash as they could in before year end. You could also see the stored jets on part of the ramp as well as those in the parking lot across Marginal Way.
There were three 777X development airframes parked while the second jet was out on a test flight. I was hoping to get it returning but it was out over the Pacific off the Oregon coast and I rightly guessed that, despite the online forecast, it wouldn’t be back before sunset. The military ramp was a little quieter than I expected with a couple of KC-46s and some P-8s including the next one for the Royal Air Force. There were also two KC-46s up on the civilian flight test ramp. Plenty to see and it would have been better in morning light.
I have posted images of stored 737 Max jets at Boeing Field. However, there is limited space there for storage and far more of the jets have been stored at Moses Lake. I wanted to see how things looked over there which was part of my reason for visiting. As I got close to the field, it wasn’t hard to spot the jets. They are everywhere it seems. The east side of the field has a bunch of them parked up. There are also plenty on the south side of the airport.
I took some shots of them to make panoramas but the fence made it harder to get a good look and the light was on the wrong side by that time in the day. The south side of the field gave some better angles as did places along the road running around the airport. I quite liked the long view across to the large numbers of planes but the heat haze was really harsh so the shots, while giving an idea of how many planes there are, lose something from being so blurred.
The south side of the field had the best light angles and you were quite close to the jets so haze was less of an issue. I like looking through the rows of planes neatly lined up to emphasize just how many of them there are. It seems Boeing is getting closer to restoring their airworthiness so we shall see how quickly they can mobilize to get the jets ready again and how willing the customers are to take delivery at this point!
The grounding of the 737 Max fleet has resulted in plenty of parked jets. I have shown them at Paine Field but Boeing Field seems to be a big storage location. The employee parking lot has been turned into a 737 parking lot. I have seen jets over there before either awaiting engines or from customers that can’t pay but nothing on this scale.
I took a trip to South Park so I could walk across the bridge and get a good view down into the storage area. I made a rough count and think there were probably over fifty jets stored there. While Boeing cut the production rate after the grounding, they only took it down to 42 a month so jets are still coming out at a prodigious rate. This area is full so, aside from Paine Field and Renton, I believe they are flying them to other storage locations.
The 737 flight tests involve a departure from Renton and arrival at Boeing Field from which all further flying takes place. However, on some flights, approaches are made to Paine Field. One COPA 737 Max made such an approach while I was there. I was at the departure end of the field and, while sometimes they will land and back taxi before taking off again, this time it was a go around. Consequently, they were quite high by the time they passed me. Still worthy of a few shots, though.
Engine supply is a bit of a problem for the big two airliner manufacturers at the moment. Rolls powered 787s are going through a drawn out program of rework and A320neos are sitting around awaiting both Pratt and CFM engines. Boeing is also short of CFM Leaps and the result is a lot of parked 737 Max jets at Renton and Boeing Field. Apparently, they are flying jets to Boeing Field and then trucking the engines back to Renton. As I flew over Boeing Field earlier in the week, the flightline did look full!
I wanted to see all of these parked jets so took a trip to Renton one weekend to see how things were. There were certainly plenty of jets around and quite a few had ballast weights attached to the pylons. Supposedly the backlog will not be sorted out until the fourth quarter (although some think that is a bit optimistic)!