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.
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!
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.
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.
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.