Erickson currently flies a bunch of MD-87s are firefighting jets. However, these are a relatively recent addition to the service and they have replaced Douglas DC-7s. The DC-7s were still in service when I first made a visit to Madras in 2015 but they have now been retired. However, three of the airframes are stored on the ramp at Madras and we took a look around to see how they were fairing.
They looked in great condition. The dry atmosphere at Madras is good for storing aircraft. Some engines have been removed but the three jets are in the most recent paint finish and parked in a line. They make for an interesting subject. I have no idea how far from airworthy they are should anyone want to get any of them flying again (aside from the engines that have been removed) but they look like they have been taken care of. I would have loved to have seen one airborne but sadly, that time has passed.
Alaska Airlines likes to advertise that it is “Proudly All Boeing”. It isn’t of course. The Q400s and E175s are definitely not Boeing jets. When they bought Virgin America, they acquired a large fleet of Airbus jets too. These are not going to be part of the fleet for long, though. Alaska has made it clear that they are going away. The A319s are apparently too small so are the first in line for replacement. Go to Paine Field and you will come across a bunch of Alaska painted A319s bagged up and awaiting their future. A319s are generally smaller than airlines want these days – it is not that long ago that the A319 was more popular than the A320 but that is no longer the case. I wonder where these will go next.
Bremerton’s naval yard has been cleared out a bit in the last few years. It used to be the resting place of a bunch of decommissioned aircraft carriers. Most have now gone to the breaker’s yard. If you drove into Bremerton, it was quite something to come along the shore and see all of those carriers in front of you. Many years ago, I was on a trip that included a flight from Seattle. We climbed out over the top of Bremerton, and I was able to grab a quick couple of shots through the window of the airliner. I do wish I had got some better shots of the carriers lined up before they all went away.
Boeing is not having a good time of it at the moment. The 737 Max saga hurt it significantly and it is still getting in to delivering jets that have been stored for a long time. Some countries have still not cleared it to fly. Meanwhile, the 787 program is in a bit of a hole with a variety of quality problems showing up such that deliveries have almost ground to a halt. Those two programs are supposed to be cash generators at the moment which allow investment in the next program. The KC-46 is also not what you would call a success!
That program is the 777X and it is not going well either. In the aftermath of the Max problems, the certification program is getting significantly dragged out. Initially engine problems delayed first flight but now that is a distant memory as all sorts of other things are meaning that service entry is not likely until early 2024. They should have been in service last year under the original plan.
Production of the last original 777s other than freighters is now complete and production of 777X airframes is well underway. However, there is nothing to do with them for now so a steady stream of green airframes is piling up at Paine Field. The cross runway (it doesn’t seem fair to call it a runway given that Boeing has used it as a parking lot for the last decade) is now filling up with airframes with weights where the engines would be and either no wing tips or they are covered with film to disguise the customer airline markings. Line numbers are taped to the gear doors. It all looks rather familiar and sad. It will be a while before these jets are readied for customers and it will be interesting to see how many Paine Field can hold before the production line churns out even more of them than there is space for.
A short distance from our house is an old railcar that is sitting on spare land gradually decaying. It has been here as long as we have and I suspect a lot longer than that. I’m not sure what it is resting on but it does seem to be listing a bit more these days than it was the first time I saw it. I have driven past it on many occasions and often thought that I should take a picture of it. I recently happened to be walking along the road rather than driving so figured I should stop and get a shot. Since it is summer, the plants are grown up around the side of the road so it is a bit harder to get a clear shot of it. I used the longer lens on the phone and stitched together some shots. It would be better to shoot this later in the day when the light is nicer but we shall see if I make the effort to go back – and maybe take a better camera?
The number of 777X airframes at Paine Field keeps growing. I pictured some before in this post and, one morning over the holidays, I was up that was for something else and figured the morning light is good on the east side of the field where some stored jets are. There are a bunch in a line along the disused cross runway so I got a shot or two before continuing with whatI had gone up there for.
While Boeing has delayed the entry to service date of the 777X, they have continued to produce airframes at Everett with the result being a number of stored airframes on the field. There are four jets in the test program and the rest are not going to fly until certification is close so, for now, they are finding spaces across the airport for them. Some are on the Boeing flight test ramp (with production of the other widebodies ramping down, space is more available I guess) while others are on the cross runway. This has been home to 787s and 737 Max jets over the years and now it is the turn of the 777X. Some of them are identifiable by the paint on the folded wing tips while others are unmarked for now.
Bainbridge Island is the location of Eagle Harbor. This is the maintenance base for the Washington State Ferries. Look at it on Google Maps and you will see a ferry moored up in maintenance or long term storage. However, since the onset of the pandemic, the ferries have been operating at a reduced schedule. This has continued even though traffic levels during summer have increased markedly. This reduced schedule means not all ferries are in service and a bunch are stored at Eagle Harbor. Shooting in to the sun is not ideal but it was the only available shot. Here are some of the ferries either in storage or awaiting a return to the full schedule.
While production Max jets awaiting delivery are all over Moses Lake, they aren’t the only 737s stored there. Coming up on the south side, the first jets to be visible were Delta Airlines 737-900ERs. I assume these have been stored here while a substantial portion of the fleet is inactive due to the massive downturn in air travel resulting from the pandemic. No idea how long these jets will be here but I guess Delta will pull them out as they increase the schedules.
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!