Experts Say Problems Encountered by 787 Dreamliner are Normal

No Comments

Boeing’s next-generation aircraft 787 Dreamliner is experiencing some growing pains. In December, a United Airlines 787 diverted its flight due to mechanical problems. Last week, a Japan Airlines 787 delayed its flight after a pilot on another aircraft saw that the 787 was leaking fuel, then a maintenance worker discovered an electrical fire in another Japan Airlines 787. These reports may make the passengers uneasy boarding the 787 which debuted in 2011, but aviation experts say new aircraft usually encounter such problems.

Every new airplane is going to have these kinds of “teething problems,” said John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member and former airline mechanic. The manufacturers usually “get a handle on it quickly and fix it.”

According to Boeing Vice-President and Chief Project Engineer for 787 Mike Sinnett, “There are issues we have seen that we will need to work through and just like any new airplane program we work through those issues and we move on.”

Sinnett added that the on-time departure rate of the Dreamliner has been in the high 90 percents in the first 15 months it has been flying.

“These are best-in-class airplanes and their performance has been best in class,” he said. “But we are not happy until we are perfect.”

Goglia added that new airplanes are much safer than ever before.

The Dreamliner is not the only aircraft that experienced some issues in the its first months of flying. Janet Bednarek, an aviation history professor, said that the Airbus A380 that debuted in 2007 had cracks in the wings. Aviation consultant Michael Boyd shared that the Boeing 747, an avant-garde aircraft during the 70s, experienced some engine problems when it was new. Boyd added that the operational advantages of 787 is enough that the orders for the aircraft will stick even if faced with these issues.

The flying on the 787 Dreamliner remains to be an exciting prospect for air enthusiasts. Do you love flying? Get your own fleet of popular airlines only from Warplanes. You can also fleet your own fleet of helicopter models from the wide range of museum-quality products offered by Warplanes.

News Source:

Air Force One to return to Everett factory

No Comments

Air Force One, the blue-and-white icon of U.S. super power, has been all-Boeing during the jet age.

Starting with Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, a succession of special Boeing 707s served eight U.S. presidents. One of those airplanes today is parked at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

In 1990, with President George H.W. Bush in office, two Boeing 747-200Bs replaced the 707s. They were built in Everett and outfitted in Wichita, Kan.

Friday, one of them flies home to Paine Field, carrying President Barack Obama for an Everett factory visit and speech. Boeing Field in Seattle is the usual destination of U.S. presidents, so this will be the first time in 19 years that one of the planes has returned to the factory of its birth while carrying a president.

Air Force One is a flying White House, with 4,000 square feet of floor space for up to 102 people, secure communication systems and medical facilities. In a pinch, surgery can be performed. These 747-200Bs have a range of 7,800 statute miles, but just in case, they can be refueled during flight.

The 747 isn’t the only Boeing plane flying U.S. VIPs. Modified 757s serve cabinet members, the first lady, the vice president and, occasionally, the president.

And Boeing hopes to provide the next generation of Air Force One. The Air Force says new planes will be needed in the latter half of this decade. The aviation trade press has reported that the company would like to offer the new Boeing 747-8 or even the 787, the assembly line of which Obama will tour Friday.

Talks about Biofuels in Paris Air Show

No Comments

Biofuels are getting a lot of attention this week at the Paris Air Show. Airlines have shown their support of the technology and its viability with Honeywell’s G450 and Boeing’s 747 planes using a blend of biofuel and conventional jet fuel.

Honeywell called the flight on Sunday of its Gulfstream G450 jet from New Jersey to Paris, “the first-ever transatlantic biofuel flight” in history.

Meanwhile, Boeing flew its new 747 freighter from Seattle to Paris on a blend of conventional jet fuel and 15 percent camelina-based biofuel, also vying to be first to fly the Atlantic on biofuel. Boeing says the use of biofuels will substantially reduce carbon emissions.

The show also included a special exhibition area for alternative aviation fuels.

Also this week, seven airlinesannounced their intentions to work with biofuel producer, Solena Fuels, to provide fuel for their flights out of the San Francisco Bay area. Solena’s fuel is made from a multistep process that starts with recycled urban and agricultural wastes.

Solena’s facility in Northern California will produce as much as 16 million gallons of jet fuel from this waste per year by 2015, to support airline operations at Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose airports. The process Solena employs makes all three major distillates: gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. In addition, the plant is able to provide its own source of energy and even produces excess electricity.

Solena’s biofuel manufacturing process was approved in 2009 for use as jet fuel by ASTM International, the worldwide consensus standards organization. This approval made Monday’s deal possible, as airlinesneed a standard fuel content and quality in order to be considered a reliable fuel source.

American Airlines and United Continental Holdings led the development of the deal that resulted in letters of intent. They were joined by Alaska Airlines, FedEx, JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier, US Airways, as well as Air Canada and Lufthansa German Airlines.

On June 10, another alternative biofuel received approval from ASTM. Review of the fuel is complete and standards for this alternative bio-derived jet fuel should be released by August, says the Air Transport Association in a press release.

Standardized fuel properties will ensure the quality of this new fuel and will lead the way for its use as “HEFA” fuels (Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids), derived from biomass products such as camelina, jatropha, or algae. Conventional jet fuel will be used in conjunction with this new fuel at up to a 50/50 ratio.

One of the startup producers of this type of fuel is Sapphire Energy, which uses algae to produce what the company calls green crude.

The company says that algae can be grown without soil and is one of the most prolific photosynthetic plants. Algae’s energy is found in the chloroplast, which uses photosynthesis to turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into organic carbon. This organic carbon is in the form of oils that can then be refined into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, according to Sapphire Energy’s site.

This fuel, says Sapphire, will work with existing transport systems and has an equivalent or greater energy density than current fossil fuels in use.

However, scaling up these biofuels will take some time. By 2015 Sapphire Energy expects to be producing millions of gallons of jet fuel and diesel at its new 300-acre facility being built, according to ThinkProgress. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, the airline industry uses hundreds of thousands of gallons of jet fuel per day.

Successful 1st Flight for Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental

No Comments

The Boeing  747-8 Intercontinental successfully began its flight test program today, taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, before several thousand employees, customers, suppliers and community leaders. The airplane landed four hours and 25 minutes later at Boeing Field in Seattle. The 747-8 Intercontinental‘s first flight marks the beginning of a flight test program that will finish in the fourth quarter.

With 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein and Capt. Paul Stemer at the controls, the newest member of the 747 family took off at 9:59 a.m. and landed at 2:24 p.m. local time.

“What a great privilege to be at the controls of such a great airplane on its first flight,” said Feuerstein. “And what an honor to share this day with the thousands of men and women who designed and built this airplane.”

Today’s flight was the first of more than 600 flight hours in the test program for the new 747-8 Intercontinental. The airplane followed a route over Eastern Washington, where it underwent tests for basic handling and performance. The airplane reached a cruising altitude of 19,000 feet (5,791 meters), and a speed of up to 250 knots, or about 288 miles per hour (463 kilometers).

“This a great day for the 747-8 team and for all of Boeing. What an honor it is to see such a beautiful airplane fly,” said Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager of the 747-8 program. “I want to thank everybody who had a hand in designing, building and preparing this airplane for flight – our engineers, our manufacturing employees, our colleagues in Boeing Fabrication, our colleagues in Boeing Test & Evaluation, our external suppliers – for all their hard work.”

The 747-8 Intercontinental will have the lowest seat-mile cost of any large commercial jetliner, with 12 percent lower costs than its predecessor, the 747-400. The airplane provides 16 percent better fuel economy, 16 percent less carbon emissions per passenger and generates a 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the 747-400. The 747-8 Intercontinental applies interior features from the 787 Dreamliner that includes a new curved, upswept architecture giving passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings.

Korean Air and VIP customers have joined launch customer Lufthansa in ordering a total of 33 747-8 Intercontinentals. First delivery of the 747-8 Intercontinental is scheduled for the fourth quarter. Air China also has agreed to order five Intercontinentals, pending government approval.

The airplane is painted in a new Sunrise livery of red-orange and is a significant departure from Boeing’s standard blue. The new colors honor many key Boeing customers whose cultures recognize these colors as symbols of prosperity and good luck. The Sunrise livery only will appear on the first 747-8 Intercontinental, which is scheduled to be delivered to a VIP customer at the end of the year.

Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Passenger Jet Rolls Out

1 Comment

Boeing’s year of flight tests on the 747-8 freighter may help the planemaker meet a goal of delivering the passenger version by year-end, removing the stigma of delays from its newest jumbo jet.

Todd Zarfos, vice president of engineering for the 747-8, said Boeing has targeted the end of March for the first flight of the aircraft, which it calls the Intercontinental. Work on the freighter during the past year is expected to make regulatory certification for the passenger version easier, he said.

“Those fixes have already been incorporated in the Intercontinental,” Zarfos said in an interview after Boeing showed the new aircraft to customers, employees and investors yesterday in Everett, Washington. “The airplane itself is largely the same as a 747-8 freighter.”

Meeting benchmarks such as first flight and delivery is important for Chicago-based Boeing, with the plastic-composite 787 Dreamliner delayed by three years, the 747 freighter about two years late and the passenger jet a year behind schedule, analysts said.

“I want that Boeing that used to never miss, under- promise, to show up, and start with the 747,” said Howard Rubel, a New York-based analyst with Jefferies & Co. The string of delays has “cost them money, it’s cost them share and it’s cost them reputation. And they can regain it.”

The fifth variant of the 747, the Intercontinental was rolled out from the same Everett, Washington, factory that made the first version of the plane more than 40 years earlier. The newest version stretches the iconic hump and carries about 467 passengers in a typical three-class configuration, fewer than the usual 525 in the larger Airbus SAS A380.

“We had during that meeting the famous words, ‘Guys, just do it,” Buchholz, executive vice president for the airline’s fleet management, said before the 747-8 was shown to the audience. “We are pleased because ‘just do it’ is behind the curtain.”

The aircraft Buchholz saw yesterday was painted red, orange and white instead of Boeing’s traditional blue, which was intended to convey vibrancy, said Pat Shanahan, general manager of commercial airplane programs.

“This certainly isn’t Boeing blue, but this isn’t Joe Sutter’s Oldsmobile either,” Shanahan said, referring to the leader of the engineering team on the first 747, about 40 years ago. “This is a new airplane, and we wanted a new livery.”

The 747-8’s wingspan stretches more than 224 feet, about 13 feet longer than the earlier model, the 747-400. The aircraft is propelled by GEnx-2B67 engines, built by General Electric Co., which are made with about 30 percent fewer parts, reducing maintenance. The cruising speed is about Mach 0.86, or about 86 percent of the speed of sound.

Boeing to roll out new 747-8 as attempt to build momentum

No Comments

One year ago this week, Boeing’s first 747-8 freighter took to the skies over Everett for its maiden flight.

Pat Shanahan, Vice President of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said “I didn’t think anything could be more beautiful than the 787, but this is such a beautiful airplane, a big airplane,” after watching the 747-8 freighter’s first flight.

On Feb. 8 last year, Boeing’s 747-8 Freighter took off from Paine Field and returned to the Everett airport three hours and 39 minutes later. Since that first flight, Boeing’s 747-8 program has added four test planes to help move the freighter closer to certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. The 747-8 freighter flight test program is two-thirds complete, Jim McNerney, Boeing’s CEO, told media members during the company’s earnings call in late January.

Following the freighter’s first flight last February, the 747-8 program had its share of disappointments. In September, Boeing pushed back the first delivery of the freighter to mid-2011 from late 2010. The first 747-8 passenger plane will be delivered by year’s end.

Orders for the 747-8 have been scarce in recent years. From 2008 through 2010, Boeing received a total of four net orders for its 747-8 program. Altogether, the 747-8 program has won 107 orders since its 2005 launch.

Still, “I think it’s a promising aircraft,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group, in an interview in late January.

This week, Boeing will unveil the first 747-8 passenger plane at the factory here. Dubbed the Intercontinental, the 747-8 will be Boeing’s largest ever passenger plane.

Although the 747-8 passenger plane has just 33 orders, Boeing’s Nicole Piasecki, Vice President of business development, said in an interview late last year that she felt confident about the future of the 747-8 passenger plane. “We think heads will turn when that airplane starts to fly,” she said.

Historic 747 demolished in South Korea


The first 747 jetliner to carry commercial passengers and a symbol of the golden age of air travel was demolished in Namyangju, South Korea last Sunday, Dec. 12, as its owners gave up a frustrating decade-long attempt to make a profit from the mammoth piece of aviation history.

After decades of flying to nearly every continent, the Juan T. Trippe, built at Boeing’s plant in Everett and named after the Pam Am founder, was bought in 2000 from a California airplane graveyard by the South Korean couple, who transformed it into an aviation-themed restaurant.

Since that venture failed in 2005, the couple said they had unsuccessfully sought a buyer for the plane, which languished in a suburban lot 25 miles northeast of Seoul, its fuselage battered by the elements.

As its condition worsened, looking forlornly out of place next to a row of apartment buildings, the jet soon became an Internet curiosity — as well as a bitter reminder to its owners of a monumental business calculation.

After spending $1 million for the plane and $100,000 more to dismantle and ship it to South Korea, the couple, who run a noodle restaurant on the property, finally punched the 747 plane’s final ticket Sunday.

On a cold afternoon, two cranes straddled the big jet, their jaws ripping into its fuselage as workers on the ground sifted through the plane’s twisted wreckage looking for scrap materials. No plans have been announced on new uses for the space.

In the restaurant, the owners waited. “I try not to look out the window in the direction of the plane,” the wife said. “I know we can’t just let that plane sit there forever.” She paused, examining her fingernails. “But seeing it go, well, it’s just hard to watch,” she added.

Boeing officials say the Trippe was the second 747 of the 1,000 the company produced. The first was used for test flights only, and the Trippe was the first to ferry passengers.

After The Los Angeles Times recently featured the plane in a story, readers, including a onetime head flight attendant aboard the jet, e-mailed their memories.

“I recognized the photo of the Juan Trippe like gazing upon the face of a dear old friend,” she wrote. “If her walls could talk, her listeners would not believe the incredible stories she would tell from the golden age of travel which has long since passed into the history books.”

In recent months, the owners had been contacted by several potential buyers, including Japanese businessmen who wanted to display the Trippe in Tokyo as well as a group that wanted to move the plane and turn it into a church.

When the religious group finally backed out, the owners despaired and decided that it was the last straw. The jet’s demolition came 10 years and four months after they purchased it.

The husband said many South Koreans concentrated only on the money the couple has lost in the venture, but that foreigners who visited their restaurant often marveled over the jet’s long history.

The owners kept a few mementoes: the plane’s world clocks and a miniature model of the 747 aircraft.


In Wake of UPS Crash, Boeing to Revise Emergency Cockpit Procedures

1 Comment

Prompted by last month’s crash of a UPS 747 cargo jet with a raging fire in its hold, Boeing is revising emergency procedures intended to help pilots of such aircraft deal with smoke in the cockpit.

According to company and industry officials, Boeing’s new emergency checklist, which is expected to be issued in November, aims to ensure that crews take proper steps to keep air circulating in order to prevent dense smoke from building up in the cockpits of certain 747 cargo planes.

The recommended procedural changes will call for making sure at least one air-conditioning system continues to operate on all-cargo, 747-400 jumbo jets during a fire emergency. Under some circumstances, current checklists require pilots to turn off air-conditioning systems in the event of a fire warning from the cargo hold. Further checklist revisions are under review.

Boeing has distributed interim safety guidelines to operators, pending formal changes to checklists and operating manuals.

Over the weekend, a Boeing Co. spokeswoman said the plane-maker has “taken a number of actions to address issues” raised by the Sept. 3 crash of the United Parcel Service Inc. jet in Dubai, which killed both pilots. Boeing is reviewing changes in “certain flight-crew and environmental control system procedures,” she said.

Meanwhile, UPS officials have declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation, or potential operational changes.

UPS cargo plane crash site

Carrying cargo that included what US regulators described as “large quantities of lithium batteries,” the jumbo jet was about 20 minutes en route from Dubai to Cologne, Germany, when pilots received a fire warning from the main cargo deck. There were two subsequent warnings of a cargo fire, according to investigators from the United Arab Emirates heading the international team conducting the probe.

Investigators haven’t officially determined the cause of the crash, but they already have released details about drama inside the cockpit as the pilots struggled to return to Dubai. Smoke was so dense, according to investigators, that the pilots had difficulty seeing their primary flight-instruments and communicating with each other. They also couldn’t change radio frequencies, so nearby aircraft helped pass on messages from Dubai controllers.

At some point during the emergency descent and return to Dubai, one of the pilots apparently left the cockpit to try to fight the flames but never returned, according to people familiar with the investigation. The crippled aircraft flew over the airport at 4,000 feet, made a right-hand turn and crashed, without killing or injuring anyone on the ground.

The accident has revved-up pilot-union and regulator concerns about fire hazards posed by cargo shipments of such rechargeable batteries. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration recently issued a safety alert urging cargo airlines to take special precautions when transporting such shipments. The FAA warned that some lithium-battery fires may spread in spite of onboard suppression systems, reaching high temperatures and “creating a risk of a catastrophic event.”

The Department of Transportation is moving to issue additional restrictions on battery shipments. But a broad coalition of industry organizations – from battery suppliers to cellular phone makers to retail industry groups — objects to such controls and has appealed to White House officials to stop the new rules under review.

For Boeing and numerous large international cargo operators that rely on 747 jumbo jets, an equally high-priority issue is how to most-effectively combat the spread of smoke from a blaze in the main cargo hold, where there typically is no fire-suppression system.



(Mild Spoilers)

Many times have helicopters, fighter planes and other aircraft were used to film movies. Many times have they also appeared or “starred” in these. Here are a few recently shown movies wherein planes were used to add more zing to the moving pictures.

The A-Team movie poster

Directed by Joe Carnahan, The A-Team action film adapted from the popular TV series wouldn’t be a total testosterone-packed movie without the explosions, armament, and cool modes of transportation. An F-22 Raptor destroyed a medical chopper. Unmanned aircraft were CGI-produced. Ground vehicles like a GMC Vandura van and military tanks (unfortunately used in the air, too, thanks to parachutes) were used.

There are talks about the well-received 2010 movie Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan with Leonardo DiCaprio as the main character, using a Boeing 747 passenger jet. Others think it was a Qantas A380 aircraft. Some claim it could have been an NZ aircraft. At the near-end of the film, Leo and his crew board the business-class to do their bidding. The nose seemed like a B747 but issues about the futuristic seats led to being vaguely similar to the seats of an NZ aircraft. It’s still a mystery at this moment but some planes need to be modified when shooting movies.

Inception movie poster

The Losers movie poster

Another adaptation this time from a comic book is the action film directed by Sylvain White called The Losers. A chopper was used but I’m not sure what kind of helicopter it is yet since I have not yet seen this movie and it was hard to judge based on the trailer. I tried researching it online but to no avail. Can anyone tell me? Just leave a comment.

Movie still from The Losers film