With long haul travel having almost vanished (other than a lot of use of passenger jets for freight movements), some of the regular visitors to Seattle and now a distant memory. Virgin Atlantic was a regular visitor and they had migrated from other types to the 787-9 recently. Here was one heading to SeaTac while I was at Boeing Field. With the reduced size of the airline post COVID (and assuming it survives), will they be coming to Seattle again any time soon? I hope so.
Boeing was ready to deliver a 787 to Turkish Airlines. Normally these take place from the Delivery Center which is a nice building justifying the large wedge of cash that has just been handed over. Boeing crews usually taxi out from the ramp but customer flights seem to get towed to the ramp entrance. Maybe they don’t trust the customer pilots in amongst all of their expensive jets.
The departure was to the north so they taxied to the south end of the field before lining up for departure. A flight to Istanbul is a decent length but, without any payload, it still doesn’t take long for them to get airborne. Judging by the distance to go boards, they were off in about 4,000’. Consequently, they had reached a decent height by the time they came by my location. They headed off to the north to start the long trip home.
These shots aren’t particularly nice but, at the time I took them, I didn’t realize that they would be a bit more significant for a friend of mine. He was a skipper for Virgin Atlantic and making his first run to Seattle. I went out to get his arrival despite it being a bit gloomy. We met up afterwards for a beer and some food. He flew back the following day.
Since that time, the airline business (along with many businesses) has taken a bad turn and Virgin Atlantic has been getting rid of staff. My friend was eligible for retirement and decided to take it. Consequently, this flight turned out to be the last landing he made in his commercial flying career. The return leg landing was made by another member of his crew. It would have been nice if the conditions were better but I am glad I was there to see it. Happy retirement Chris and see you soon I hope!
When airlines take delivery of new jets, they tend to try and space them out a bit. The ability to add a bunch of jets at once is limited so you don’t often see a lot of jets from the same airline on the flight line at the factory. However, there has been a cluster of Vistara 787s at Paine Field recently. I think they were originally assigned to another carrier that couldn’t take delivery of them – perhaps Hainan. Consequently, they have been reallocated at short notice and Vistara is the customer. Here they were sitting together in Everett going through the final phases of testing. I’m not sure whether some will be stored and delivered later or whether they will all go in a group.
Boeing has marked up a 787-9 is a special color scheme to reflect their internal charity organization. It is a jet that was supposed to go to Hainan Airlines but the financial issues with the airline means that they have not taken delivery of a number of jets. This is not a paint scheme but is a giant vinyl wrap. It looks very impressive. The jet has been used for flyovers at events Boeing has sponsored and it is also going to Dubai for the air show (which will be in the past by the time this post goes live).
I was picking up some family members that were coming to stay. I got to the airport a little ahead of their scheduled arrival time and, since it was some time near an airport, I figured a bit of photography wouldn’t go amiss. They were coming in on a Virgin 787-9 so I knew I would shoot that. The heavies come in on the inner runway, but the rest tend to go to the outer. You can still get them, but it isn’t so close. I figured a few shots on a cloudy day was worth time to experiment with exposing high and playing with the shots in post.
Sorry for the corny pun but I just couldn’t resist. One of my favorite airliners to shoot has been the Air Tahiti Nui A340-300. I have seen them at LAX on a number of visits. Shooting them taking off on the south complex has been possible on a few occasions and I was super lucky to get one of them landing on the north complex when I was overhead in the helicopter. The A340s are getting a bit old at this point, though, so their replacement has been ordered and it is going to be the Boeing 787-9.
One of the jets was in flight test at Everett so, with nice weather on a weekend and flying underway, I couldn’t resist a trip up to get the return. I was too late for a takeoff shot. The conditions were great. A cold snap meant that the air was clear and the sun, while it disappeared for a while shortly after I arrived, was back in plenty of time for the return. Consequently, as the plane came across the Cascades, I could see it easily prior to it turning north to come in on the approach. Mt Baker was clear in the background as they made the turn to final approach.
The dark colors of the livery make it necessary to use a bit of shadow slider when processing the shots. It was just after midday so the light was a bit on the nose of the jet but you could still get something good for the fuselage sides. The touchdown was a bit firm providing a smoky cloud of tire rubber. I wonder how much tread the airline expects to have at delivery? Often the jets will come back for a rejected takeoff run but this time they went straight back to the ramp.
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 Point.
The current generation of wide body jets are being built at rates that would have been hard to imagine a few years ago. Fourteen jets a month is so much more than would have been contemplated before. That is the sort of build rate that the 787 and the A350 are achieving. The result is a lot of jets being in service not that long after the fleet first appeared. Boeing recently built the 787th 787. It was a jet for China Southern and I got a shot of it returning to Everett. I’m glad it was an Everett jet rather than a Charleston one. I wonder who got to make that decision!
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.