I took this shot at Haneda Airport in Tokyo. The 787 has sold well with the Japanese carriers – my trip to Tokyo was on a JAL 787-8 and ANA was the launch operator – and with these two airlines competing strongly for the Japanese market, it seemed slightly appropriate that they should both be in this single shot.
There is some rationalization underway in the Japanese airline business at the moment. JAL and ANA are both taking control over smaller operations as a result of the difficulties that COVID has placed upon them. However, even before COVID reared its ugly head, JAL had created a new subsidiary. This is called Zipair. I recently read that it is due to start operations soon which surprised me because I thought I had seen its planes before. It turns out I saw one of their 787s as it was parked up at Narita when the flight I was on was taxiing in after landing. I guess that airframe hasn’t had much use yet.
During the winter, I shot a British Airways 787 as it approached landing at Seattle Tacoma International. There was some low cloud base and it was just skirting the bottom of the clouds as it passed me by. It was appearing and disappearing from view within the clouds and, even when clear, was pulling a bit of vapor along with it! An all-white jet against a cloudy backdrop does not make for a contrasty shot but the elusive nature of the plane with such a background made the shots interesting to process.
I have shown a bunch of images of the Dreamlifter bringing in components to Paine Field for the production line including shots of the unloading of parts. During a more recent visit, I happened to be there when they were moving a pair of wings from the storage facility to the production facility across the airfield. They had escort vehicles to lead and follow up as they crossed the runway. The wings look a lot less impressive in the travel jigs. The completed 787 looks substantial but the wings alone don’t provide the same impact.
Damp and cloudy days are not always ideal for aviation photography but they can provide some interesting options. One weekend I was up at Everett when they were approaching from the south. The jets broke out of the cloud at quite low level but there was some light from the side coming under the clouds. The damp air meant that the jets were pulling some conspicuous vortices as they flared for landing. They were a long way off but it was possible to get some shots of them. The 747 produced vortices that were easier to see but the 787s didn’t do too badly either.
With visitors in town, I took them to the Boeing factory tour at Everett. I know this might seem like I was doing this for my own benefit but I think they were happy to go and it helped to be doing something indoors on a rainy day. When we got there, we arrived in time to see a bunch of jets landing. There was a stream of them coming in it seemed and I was surprised to see that there were 787-10s coming in. The Dash 10 is not built at Everett. They are only assembled in Charleston so they wouldn’t normally be at Everett. Some Hainan 787-9s had also made the trip.
It turns out that they were evacuations from the impending hurricane. South Carolina was in the path of a major hurricane, Florence, heading towards the southeast coast of the US. Apparently, Boeing had decided to get the jets that were airworthy out of there to minimize the risk of damage. I suspect they would move more if they could but this was the best that they could do. The thing I found interesting was that they brought the jets all the way across the country and that there wasn’t somewhere closer that they could have as a refuge. Perhaps it is easier logistically to manage but it is a long flight to make.
For the people that don’t care for my aviation posts, this one won’t be of interest. For the aviation fans that don’t care about the techie stuff, this will also be of limited interest. That probably leaves a very small group of readers by now (Gary, I am trusting you are still here). This is about a piece of flight test instrumentation that often causes questions when people see it. It is the trailing static cone.
The aircraft has sensors that measure air data, two of the most important of which are the pitot probe and the static port. The pitot probe measures the dynamic pressure of the air which increases as the speed increases. The static port measures the air around the aircraft. The difference between the two is used to determine the speed of the aircraft and the static is used to determine the altitude. These are both vital information for a pilot. However, the aircraft affects the flow of the air around it so, while you can calculate what the pressures should be, you need to validate what the actual readings are. The first flights are carried out prior to calibrating the system so you need to have a bit of margin in the speeds you use until you have confidence in the readings.
Measuring static pressure is hard to do. The plane will have a static port on the skin of the plane as well as possibly incorporated with the pitot head. However, the air has accelerated to go around the fuselage so it is assumed to have a lower pressure than ambient. Because the plane is disturbing the flow, you need a way to measure the pressure some distance away from the plane. The answer is a trailing static cone.
This cone incorporates pressure measurement sensors and it attached to a long cable. This is held on a reel inside the aircraft and fed out of the aircraft at the rear. For airliners, this is usually through a modification to the top of the fin. A comparison between the test aircraft and a production jet will show the different structure. The cable dangles out of the fin and, as the speed increases, the cone pulls the cable taught and streams backwards.
When the testing is required, the cable is winched out and the cone is a long way behind the aircraft in what is relatively undisturbed airflow. If you go to the Museum of Flight, the prototype 747 is on display and it includes the trailing cone equipment in the fuselage. The reel is shown in its mounting location and the trailing cone is hung inside to allow you to take a look at it.
Since moving to Seattle, I have seen an airline that I had never heard of before Xiamen Airlines is a Chinese airline but their livery looks a lot like Kuwait Airlines and that was what I initially thought it was when I first saw one. Since then I have seen a few in the air and now recognize them. It’s not the most exciting scheme in service but I guess I recognize it now so that must have some value.
There are plenty of widebody flights out of Paine Field. Since the flights are normally not very long compared to the capabilities of the aircraft, they tend to be light and get off the ground quickly. A delivery flight is a different proposition if it is for an airline based a long way away. Ethiopian was taking delivery of a 787. The flight was a direct one from Everett to Bole. Consequently, it was fueled up well. Still, it didn’t have much payload and I was surprised to see it get off the ground pretty quickly. They had a long flight ahead of them.
If you buy a car, you go to the dealer to pick it up. If you buy an airliner, there might not be a dealer but you will still go to pick it up. After the production test flights have been completed, the customer gets to carry out their own test flights. If all squawks have been dealt with, time to pay and take the “keys”. Then a crew from the airline will fly the plane to their home base. This 787 had been handed over to LOT and the crew were flying it back to Warsaw. Delivery flights are often obvious from the takeoff roll. Fueled up for a long trip, they use a bit more of the runway than the test flights do. In a short while, this jet will be busy plying the LOT route structure.