British Airways was an early customer for the 787 when Boeing launched it in the form of the 787-8 and has been growing the fleet ever since. They now operate the -8, the -9 and the -10 versions. Their introduction allowed the retirement of the 767-300 fleet so the 787s are now the smallest of the widebodies (although the 787-10 has similar capacity to a 777-200ER). In Seattle, we tend to get the 787-9 or an occasional 787-10. However, Portland gets the 787-8 so, when I got to shoot one there, it was the first time I had seen a BA -8 in ages. They look quite stubby in comparison to the rest of the family.
Of the original 787 development airframes, three are now in museums and Boeing has one that it continues to use for test work. It was the fourth of the jets and, I assume, the closest to a production standard. It was recently out at Boeing Field for a flight. It taxied by me to the end of the taxiway where it then waited for a very long time. Some fire trucks were close by but not attending it – just watching as far as I could tell. They called up to say that they would be there for a long time so the tower was diverting things around them.
Eventually they taxied back before finally getting whatever was the issue sorted out at which point the runway in use had changed. They had to head to the other end of the field for departure. This time they did take off and headed off for whatever testing they had planned. Not sure of whatever it was that caused them so much trouble but I guess it got resolved.
Rarity value of Boeing’s production jets is a nice feature of living here. The 787 line is closing at Everett but there are still plenty of jets to be delivered as a result of some production quality issues. An Uzbekistan Dreamliner was built last year and I saw its colorful livery on the flight line a while back. It was finally lined up to depart recently so I decided to watch it go. It had done some test flying in lovely light in the preceding days but I was unable to be there for that.
The conditions weren’t as nice as they had been previously but they were okay and it did mean that the heat haze which is a big deal at this time of year was not such a factor. They were departing to the north so came out of the South Gate of the Boeing ramp and taxied to the south end of the field. A long flight home means plenty of fuel but also no payload so a pretty early rotation. Even so, managed to get some shots of a jet I am unlikely to see again.
Having seen the increasing number of 777s and 787s parked up at Everett (777X won’t be certificated for another year or two and the 787s have stopped delivery since October due to fuselage issues and are only now starting to be accepted again), it reminded me of the number of 787s that were stored in the early days due to the extended test program given how many issues there were with the jet. (Does this all sound rather familiar?)
I didn’t live in the Pacific Northwest in those days but came up to Seattle for an ISAP symposium. The field trip included time with the Heritage Flight Museum n Paine Field. We were checking out the collection and also getting to see a few of the aircraft in action. A few of the attendees had also paid to get flights in the planes as well. We got to hang out on the ramp as well as on the berm which I understand was a popular spot in days gone by but is now out of bounds.
There were plenty of 787s parked around the field in those days. To be honest, I can’t recall whether deliveries were underway and the numbers had thinned a bit but the earliest airframes were the most trouble and they might have been the ones still sitting around awaiting a long list of rectification issues and the potential that the original customer wouldn’t even take them. These are some of the jets that I got shots of that day.
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!
Two versions of the Boeing 787 have been in service for a while. However, development activities continue. The 787-10 is still undergoing flight test but work also continues on the older jets. Some of this is also related to the Dash 10. I had a post on my first encounter with the 787-10 which I wrote about here. I have since come across another of the test aircraft. This one is plain white and doesn’t benefit from the nice house colors that Boeing has.
Meanwhile, one of the 787-8 test aircraft has recently been testing the newest version of the Rolls Royce Trent 1000. I saw this engine when it was being tested on Rolls’ testbed in Tucson and that was in this post. Now it has been fitted to its intended platform and is undergoing trials. These have included lengthy flights around the US including one in which they traced out the planform of the aircraft across multiple states. If you are going to go flying for 18 hours, you might as well find a way to have fun with it. The aircraft is carrying the same logo on the engine nacelle that was on the testbed. Hopefully, the delayed upgraded engine will soon be in service, not just on the Dash 10 but also on the other variants.
A little trip back to an earlier photo trip for this one. Aeromexico have lots of flights to the US but their LAX flight is obviously busy enough to justify a bigger jet. That is the 787. I got to see their 787 during my visit including some great views from the helicopter that we shot from over the airport. Above is a good angle to shoot the 787 from. The wing planform is pretty distinctive and so looking down you can see that most clearly.