Thursday, September 30, 2010

Co-Photos of the day / Blue1 MD-95 (717-200)

Blue1 MD-95 (717-23S) (55065/5048) OH-BLJ ex SE-REL is seen as she makes an early morning departure from London-Heathrow (LHR/EGLL). The aircraft was originally delivered to Olympic Aviation as SX-BOC "Iridanos" on January 26, 2001. It later saw service with Aerolineas Belareas (AeBal) as EC-JZX and finally with Quantum Air before finding it's way to Blue1. (Photo by James Mellon)

Blue1 MD-95 (717-23S) (55066/5054) OH-BLM ex SE-REM is captured arriving at London-Heathrow (LHR/EGLL). This aircraft was originally destined for U.S. start-up Heartland Air (N601HL) but was never taken-up as the airline never got off the ground. Boeing test flew the aircraft with an all white livery as N6202S until it was painted in the livery of Spanair Link / AeBal and delivered as EC-HUZ "Valldemossa" on May 10, 2001.

(Photo by James Mepsted)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another jetBlue A320 wears the "Barcode" tail livery

A320-232 (c/n 1650) N531JL "All Blue Can Jet" arrives from Sacramento, California as "jetBlue 263" sporting the carriers latest tail livery "Barcode".

A320-232 (c/n 1650) N531JL "All Blue Can Jet" taxies on "lima" towards a Rwy 30 departure bound for Portland, Oregon as "jetBlue 1426".
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Southwest Airlines/AirTran Airways marriage little threat to Delta per J.P. Morgan

Southwest Airlines' $1.4 billion acquisition of AirTran Airways will, if consummated, give it access to Atlanta for the first time, but the deal does not significantly threaten Delta Air Lines' mega-hub, J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker stated in a report released this week.

While acknowledging that SWA may choose to add service "between some portion of its 37 unique cities [not already served by AirTran] and ATL," Baker said that DL generates "approximately $200 million in annual revenue in these local markets," which is just 10% of the $2 billion of local Atlanta demand and less than 1% of Delta's total system revenues, which exceeded $28 billion last year. He noted that SWA's entry into ATL would have no affect on DL flow traffic and international demand there.

Furthermore, SWA's costs "are roughly 14% higher than AirTran's" and SWA already prices its product higher, Baker said, suggesting "that incumbents in existing AirTran markets may actually benefit from AirTran's rebranding to Southwest." However, the deal may put pressure on other LCCs, such as JetBlue Airways, Spirit and Virgin America, he said.

(Perry Flint - ATWOnline News)

A320 upgrade plan nears approval

Senior Airbus engineers are expected to meet on Thursday to finalize plans to upgrade the A320 aircraft series with new engines in a bid to sustain sales of the plane maker's best-selling jet family, industry sources said.

EADS subsidiary Airbus has been considering the "re-engining" project to make its short-haul and medium-haul planes up to 15 percent more fuel-efficient from 2015.

Barring surprises, it is now seen as virtually certain that Airbus will go ahead with the EUR€1 billion - EUR€2 billion project, but it has pledged only to do so if it can avoid using engineers needed to prevent further delays on other key projects.

A panel of engineers and advisers is expected to weigh the options on Thursday with the launch of the so-called Airbus A320 NEO -- for New Engine Option -- seen as the favored scenario.

Airbus declined to comment.

A green light from engineers on Thursday would still need to be approved by Airbus's executive committee led by chief executive Tom Enders and then by parent company EADS, with a formal launch seen likely in the middle of October.

The A320 series is a family of four aircraft which compete with Boeing's 737 Next Generation family for sales of single-aisle jets, the backbone of most airline fleets. The upgrade is expected to affect three of the four types.

Upgrading with new engines would help the large plane makers meet demands for more fuel savings and fend off growing competition from planes such as Bombardier's C-Series.

The new Airbus version would offer a choice of new engines from CFM International and Pratt & Whitney. They would be fitted as an option instead of current models from CFM and a consortium that includes Pratt & Whitney.

The Economist reported this week that the 150-seat A320 NEO would cost about USD$8 million more than the current model, equivalent to a price premium of about 10 percent.

Airbus hopes the upgrade will keep its product portfolio fresh until 2025. It doubts a big enough leap in technology will be ready before then to make it worth building a completely new plane.

Boeing has been looking at the same move but analysts say it is increasingly likely to pass on the engine upgrade in the hope that technology for a game-changing new plane will be ready earlier than Airbus believes -- possibly as early as 2020.

Single-aisle product strategy is key to revenues and profits at both plane makers. Airbus delivered single-aisle planes worth some USD$33 billion at today's list prices last year, though in practice planes are sold at a discount.

The Economist quoted Airbus sales chief John Leahy as saying he thought Airbus could sell another 4,000 A320-family jets, compared with 4,125 delivered up to the end of last year.


UA and CO closer to becoming one airline

The marriage of United Airlines and Continental Airlines will be official as early as this week, but the honeymoon will be fleeting as the carriers confront the monumental task of blending 87,000 employees into one work force.

The work is well under way for the airlines as they form a new United Airlines -- the world's largest carrier. But the biggest chores remain, as the carriers attempt to realize more than USD$1 billion in annual revenue and cost savings by 2013.

"In order to get the synergies and cost benefits, you really have to go to a single entity," said airline consultant Robert Mann.

Mann said staff integration will be an enormous hurdle. The new company and its unions must negotiate transition agreements, and seniority integration and single contracts.

"Those are going to be really intensive efforts," he said.

The airlines are targeting October 1 to close United's USD$3.17 billion all-stock purchase of Continental. Shareholders at both airlines approved the deal on September 17.

The new carrier will be based in Chicago and be led by chief executive Jeff Smisek, the current CEO of Houston-based Continental. UAL is led by CEO Glenn Tilton, who will be president of the new United.

United and Continental formed a strategic alliance in 2008 after previous failed merger talks, setting the stage for the full merger.

"We have a significant competitive advantage here because of the alliance between the two companies that existed previously," Tilton told reporters after the shareholder vote. "Much of the work actually took place when Continental agreed to come into the Star Alliance."

"So a good bit of formational work has been done, which is really helpful," he said.

The bulk of the new United's work force is represented by unions, and several of the labor groups are represented by competing unions.

That means the unions on each side of the nine work groups must negotiate with each other over representation, seniority integration and contracts.

In each case, talks could easily become thorny. That risk is illustrated by US Airways, which merged with America West Airlines in 2005 and has yet to fully integrate its labor groups.

Delta Air Lines, which bought Northwest Airlines in 2008, has had much easier staff integration, although the work groups still are not blended.

The new United hopes to follow Delta's example.


BA Captain to get job back

British Airways is poised to rehire the captain of the Boeing 777-200 which crashed at London Heathrow, nearly three years after the accident and his subsequent decision to leave the company.

Capt Peter Burkill was the commander of flight BA038 from Beijing which crashed at Heathrow on 17 January 2008, after ice obstructed the fuel system during final approach.

A source familiar with the situation states that Burkill is likely to rejoin the carrier in November, although contracts have yet to be finalised.

Burkill has released a statement on his personal website, in which he says: "I am delighted that the discussions with British Airways, have come to a mutually, happy conclusion. In my opinion British Airways is the pinnacle of any pilot's career and it is my honour and privilege to be returning to an airline that I joined as a young man."

Everyone on board BA038 survived the accident, and investigators praised the actions of Burkill and his crew.

But Burkill felt under pressure in the months afterwards and eventually left the airline. Although he wanted to continue flying, he struggled to find alternative employment as a pilot, partly owing to the stigma of his association with the high-profile crash.

In the interim period he wrote a book about his experience of the accident.

British Airways simply states that Burkill was a "valued colleague" and that the airline "would welcome him back" as a captain.

"We have always supported and praised everyone's actions involved in managing the BA38 incident," says a spokesman for the carrier.

(David Kaminski-Morrow / FlightGlobal News)
G550 (c/n 5279) N579GA which is destined for a Spanish customer, departed Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this morning at 0906 bound for Savannah-Hilton Head (SAV/KSAV) for onward delivery. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Special Diabetes Awareness Flight

This special flight to promote Diabetes awareness took place this past July. The photos below were taken on Monday July 12, 2010 as the flight team was making a stop at Torrance - Zamperini Field (TOA/KTOA) here in SoCal.
Douglas and Karl

Beech Baron 58 (c/n TH-74) N30TB performs engine runs at Torrance-Zamperini Field (TOA/KTOA).

(Photos by Steve Griffin)

Check out the link for more information on this special flight:

Scary moment at Reno Air Races 2010

Thunder Mustang PAPA-51 (c/n FITM024) N151G/75 "Rapid Travel" owned and operated by George Giboney Jr. of Des Moines, Washington goes into the dirt on Sunday September 19 at the 2010 Reno Air Races. Not to worry though he walked away from the crash with just a few bumps and bruises he even talks about what happened in an interview contained in the link at the bottom of the this page. Thanks goes to David Hartman for forwarding these "heart stopping" photos.

Check out the following link for actual footage of the mishap.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First 757 for Allegiant Air nears delivery

(Photo by Jeff S.)

The first 757-204 (26963/450) N901NV for Allegiant Air is captured being prepared for delivery to the carrier. The aircraft was originally delivered to Britannia Airways as G-BYAD on May 6, 1992.

jetBlue Airways to go it alone

JetBlue Airways has no plans to get involved in airline merger activity, preferring instead to grow on its own, the company's chief executive said.

Responding to Southwest Airlines' plan to buy AirTran, JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said the company growth strategy "has proven to be the right path forward" and would "not be distracted" from its goals.

"Overall, (Southwest) does not change our plans to grow organically, and to focus on growing (Boston) and the Caribbean," Barger said in a memo to employees.

"We could easily double our size overnight, but at what cost to our balance sheet, our culture and brand? We've worked too hard for those assets," Barger said.

JetBlue is expanding in Boston and the Caribbean to compete more with bigger rivals, including Southwest, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.

The USD$1.4 billion Southwest-AirTran deal, the first among healthy major carriers in the low-cost sector, lifted JetBlue shares sharply on Monday, mainly on speculation that it may view more favorably the prospect of consolidation.

Analysts said its strong presence in New York would make it a key player in any new merger activity. JetBlue is based at New York's Kennedy Airport.

JetBlue shares rose 2 percent on Tuesday to lead the sector.

Barger said airlines that grow through mergers "may be bigger," but they're "also distracted by their own integration issues and they usually take their eye off the customer."

"This gives us another opportunity to win by playing our game even better" and competing "on our own terms," he said.


American Airlines being left behind

The impending mergers of United Airlines with Continental Airlines, and Southwest Airlines' deal to buy AirTran reshuffle the deck for the largest US airlines and put new pressure on major carriers without a merger partner to find one.

For American Airlines, which lost the title of world's largest airline after the 2008 merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines, the outlook is getting murkier. Experts say American needs a merger partner and may already be losing a competitive edge.

"They find themselves facing the market from the bottom of the top three as opposed to from the top of the top three, and this really hurts you in the corporate travel marketplace," said airline consultant Robert Mann.

Well-heeled business travelers, the bread and butter of US airlines, gravitate to the carriers with the most extensive route networks, Mann said. American simply cannot make that claim anymore, he added.

"That's going to mean a tougher revenue marketplace for American," he said. "By contrast, I think you'll see United and Continental, as well as Northwest and Delta, have relatively favorable stories to tell in acquiring revenue in the markets that they extensively serve."

Dallas-based American has long argued that it does not need a merger to survive and thrive, saying it has confidence in its large international network to lure premium travelers.

"Network breadth is important, and we have that in abundance," AMR chief executive Gerard Arpey said at an investor conference in July. "We can go to virtually any corporate account and offer them convenient access to all the markets that are important to them."

United Airlines plans to close its USD$3.17 billion all-stock purchase of Continental in the next few days, forming the world's largest carrier.

Southwest shocked the industry on Monday with news that it would buy AirTran for USD$1.4 billion in a bid to expand into lucrative East Coast markets.

"It's not at all surprising that when one domino falls, other people have to reposition," said Bob Profusek, global head of M&A at Jones Day and lead lawyer for the UAL merger.


Kuwait may buy single C-17A

Kuwait could buy a single Boeing C-17 and a support package worth $693 million, the US government announced on 27 September.

The possible deal would give Boeing its eighth customer for the airlifter and extend the C-17 production line by about five weeks.

Boeing executives have long discussed Kuwait as a potential C-17 buyer, but the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency formally informed lawmakers about the possible transaction on 24 September.

The Kuwaiti air force needs a strategic airlifter for "relief support, humanitarian disaster and peacekeeping missions, as well as transporting dignitaries and cultural assets to various regional and international destinations", the DSCA notice says.

Boeing is also negotiating with India to buy 10 C-17s, with a contract signing possibly to coincide with President Barack Obama's planned visit to New Dehli in November.

The UK government is also interested in buying an eighth C-17, although the funding will be decided based on the outcome of its ongoing Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Further C-17 sales are also being proposed to other countries in the Middle East and Europe, and to South Africa.

However, Boeing says a production gap is still possible, given the slow process of closing military aircraft deals on the foreign market. The company is currently scheduled to deliver the last C-17 in September 2012.

The US Air Force has not asked for new C-17s in four years, but Congress has inserted funds to buy 43 more aircraft during that period. This year, the Air National Guard has listed a need for five C-17s worth $1.3 billion on its list of unfunded priorities.

(Flight Global - Aviation News)

Southwest Airlines highlites at Orange County (SNA/KSNA) this past weekend

737-7H4 (29843/2572) N918WN "Illinios One" climbs from Rwy 19R on Sunday September 26. (Photo by Michael Carter)

737-7H4 (36660/3226) N945WN "Florida One" taxies to Rwy 19R on Monday morning September 27. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Dream Finally Comes True!

This was sent to me from an old friend, thanks Rickster you made my day.

Southwest Airlines buyout of AirTran Airways has bright future for both carriers

Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 (32458/2517) N909WN turns into gate 1 at Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) sporting the "Free bags fly here" logo. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Southwest Airlines' acquisition of AirTran Airways for approximately $1.4 billion in cash and SWA stock (see item below) is expected to yield net annual synergies of more than $400 million by 2013, SWA said on Monday. One-time costs related to the acquisition and integration of AirTran are expected to be in the range of $300-$500 million.

The deal combines two carriers with little route overlap. SWA serves 69 airports and AirTran 70, but each serves 37 airports not served by the other, according to SWA CFO Laura Wright who spoke to Wall Street analysts yesterday via webcast. According to Oliver Wyman's website, they operate flights in just 20 common nonstop segments based on schedules for this week.

Post-merger, SWA will blanket the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, serving 23 airports between Virginia and Maine, as well as 11 in Florida. Acquisition of AirTran also gives SWA entry into slot-constrained Washington National; both already serve Washington Dulles and Baltimore/Washington.

AirTran's largest market remains Atlanta, which accounts for about 47% of daily departures, down from 91% 10 years ago. It next largest airport is BWI, with 51 daily departures and Orlando, where it is headquartered, with 43. Southwest's largest base is Las Vegas, with 224 daily departures, followed by Chicago Midway with 216, Phoenix with 178, BWI with 171 and Denver with 144.

The combined carriers will operate 685 aircraft comprising 401 737-700s, 173 737-300s, 25 737-500s and 86 717s. On Monday, SWA Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly said that SWA believes it can make the 717 work in the SWA fleet.

Southwest already carries more passengers within the US than any other airline and will continue to do so even after Continental and United complete their merger. Both airlines' cost structures are similar, but AirTran has slightly lower non-fuel CASM on a stage-length adjusted basis and Southwest's employees are paid considerably more on average. Workforces of both airlines are heavily organized. SWA's approximately 5,900 pilots are represented by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Assn. while AirTran's 1,500 pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Assn. SWA's 9,600 flight attendants are represented by the Transport Workers Union while AirTran's 2,000 flight attendants are represented by the Assn. of Flight Attendants. Full integration is expected to take up to two years.

(Perry Flint - ATWOnline News)

**Breaking News** Southwest Airlines buying AirTran

Southwest Airlines said it would acquire AirTran Holdings for about USD$1.4 billion in cash and stock in a move that will merge two of the biggest discount carriers in the US.

Southwest will buy AirTran for USD$7.69 a share, a premium of 69 percent to AirTran's Friday closing price. The deal comprises USD$3.75 a share in cash and 0.321 in Southwest's shares for each AirTran share. Taking in AirTran's existing net indebtedness and capitalized aircraft operating leases, the transaction value is about USD$3.4 billion, Southwest said in a statement.

Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief executive said: "The acquisition of AirTran represents a unique opportunity to grow Southwest Airline's in key markets we don’t yet serve and takes a step towards positioning us for future growth."

The deal will give Southwest a presence in Atlanta, AirTran’s hub and the busiest airport in the US. It will also extend Dallas-based Southwest’s reach to Washington DC, New York and Boston.

Bob Fornaro, AirTran’s chief executive, said: "This agreement is great news for our crew members, our shareholders and the communities we serve."

Mr Fornaro is to be involved in the integration process, Southwest said.

Southwest said the deal would create "hundreds of additional low-fare itineraries for the traveling public" and would help drive down prices in the industry through tougher competition thanks to its greater scale. The airline pointed to a study by Campbell-Hill Aviation Group that said Southwest’s presence in Atlanta would stimulate more than two million new passengers and more than USD$200 million in consumer savings a year.

The airline industry is seeing a wave of consolidation as it recovers from a surge in oil prices and a drop in air travel caused by the recession.

In May, United parent UAL announced the acquisition of Continental Airlines for USD$3.17 billion in an all-stock deal.

Southwest said excluding the impact of one-time costs, the acquisition is expected to add to its pro-forma earnings per share in the first year after the closing of the deal.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chicago White Sox at Orange County Airport

The Chicago White Sox departed John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) at 1734 on United Airlines Flt UAL9904 operated by Airbus A320-232 (c/n 1272) N462UA bound for Chicago - Midway Airport (MDW/KMDW). The White Sox were in town playing the Anaheim Angels who they swept in the weekend series.

Bellingham International Airport completes runway project

Despite unseasonably wet weather, workers were able to complete the Bellingham International Airport's $29 million paving project on time. The Port of Bellingham closed the runway on Aug. 31 and launched a three week, 24-hour-day construction and paving operation.

During that time, Icon Materials of Tukwila and more than two dozen local subcontractor businesses worked on this project that included distributing 174,000 tons of asphalt onto the runway and taxiways. The crews repeatedly had to suspend work when it was raining. But they completed the runway paving operations on Saturday

"I am very happy to announce that the airport is scheduled to re-open as planned on Wednesday," said Port Aviation Director Art Choat. "Our contractors truly had to battle Mother Nature and they did an outstanding job of getting this work done on time."

Although the runway won't officially open until Wednesday, people may see one plane flying in and out on Tuesday. That's because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must conduct test flights to certify the airport's instrument landing systems and visual aid systems before pilots can begin using the airport.
Those test flights are scheduled to begin around noon on Tuesday.

Allegiant Air MD-88 (49761/1623) N401NV Flt. AAY292 rolls for takeoff bound for Bellingham International (BLI/KBLI) at 1802 on September 23, 2010. (Photo by Michael Carter)

The first commercial flight scheduled out of the Bellingham airport Wednesday will be the 5:20 a.m. Horizon Air flight to Seattle. On Wednesday, about 1,000 commercial passengers are scheduled to fly out of Bellingham, Choat said.
This $29 million project is the largest construction project in the 90-year history of the Port of Bellingham. An estimated 250 skilled trades people worked on this project including many from Whatcom County. The FAA paid for 95 percent of this project, with the remaining amount coming from passenger fees collected at the Bellingham airport.

This was the first major repair work done to the runway since it opened in 1941. The project will improve both the runway and the taxiways to provide stronger surfaces, better drainage and the ability to serve larger aircraft. After re-opening, the runway will be able to accommodate Boeing 757s.

This project began in April 2010 and will continue for a few more months with additional paving and finishing work occurring on portions of the taxiways.

As this huge paving operation wraps up, the Port will turn its attention to the Commercial Air Terminal. The Port plans to launch a $30 million multi-year terminal expansion project that will result in a terminal that is three times the size of the current facility. The Port Commission is expected to award a bid on the $7 million first phase of the terminal project later this fall.

(Port of Bellingham - Press Release)

Hot Gulfstreams at Long Beach On Thursday September 23, 2010

Gulfstream G100 (c/n 149) N749GA rolls for take off on Rwy 30 at 1753 bound for Dallas - Love Field (DAL/KDAL).

Gulfstream G-IVSP (c/n 1484) N721FF departs from Rwy 30 at 1727 destined for Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS/KLAS).
(Photos by Michael Carter)

"100 Years of Naval Aviation"

(Photos by Ralph Duenas)

The U.S. Navy has applied this special livery to F/A-18F (c/n 1512/F016) "Super Hornet" 165677 flown by "VFA-122" celebrating "100 Years of Naval Aviation" The aircraft was captured at Tulsa International Airport (TUL/KTUL).

Phoenix Coyotes arrive at Long Beach Airport

Taxies on "delta" to Rwy 30.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Boeing 727-223/ADV (21369/1275) N698SS passed through Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on Tuesday September 21 bringing in the National Hockey League (NHL) Phoenix Coyotes who would play the Anaheim Ducks later that evening and then the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday September, 22.

The aircraft arrived from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX/KPHX) at 1528, then ferried to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) departing at 1645.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

jetBlue "Barcode" passes through Long Beach

A320-232 (c/n 3039) N653JB "Breath of Fresh Blue" which sports the carriers latest tail livery passed through Long Beach Airport a couple times on Friday September 17, 2010. The new tail livery was introduced on September 7.
(Photo by Doug Kerr)

Second MD-11 to be converted for Finnair Cargo

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Finnair MD-11 (48753/608) OH-LGG is scheduled to be the second "DAC Heavy" to be converted to a frieghter for Finnair Cargo. The aircraft is seen at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on August 8, 2009 when it brought in the F.C. Barcelona soccer club to play the LA Galaxy at the Rose Bowl.

The aircraft was originally delivered to Garuda Indonesia as PK-GIK on December 19, 1996. It later saw service with Brazilian carrier Varig as PP-VQI until joining Finnair as the carriers 7th MD-11 in November 2005.

Photo of the Day / A319-115X CJ

The first A319-115X CJ (c/n 3957) 9K-GEA delivered to the State of Kuwait, arrives at London-Luton (LTN/EGGW) today on a simply gorgeous morning.
(Photo by James Mepsted)

Department of Justice (DOJ) Saab 2000

A very rare sight in the U.S., as this Saab 2000 (c/n 2000-028) N92225 operated by the U.S. Department of Justice was seen at Boeing Field (BFI/KBFI) on September 22, 2010.
(Photo by Joe G. Walker)

Revised livery for Air Algerie

Air Algerie 737-8D6 (40858/3406) 7T-VKD was captured at Boeing Field (BFI/KBFI) yesterday sporting a revised livery. Now all white fuselage (no grey belly), engines nacelles and winglets painted red and loss of the black nose. (Photo by Joe G. Walker)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Convair 580 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB)

Honeywell Flight Test Convair 580 (c/n 2) N580WH arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon at 1643 from Snohomish County Airport - Paine Field (PAE/KPAE).
(Photo by Doug Kerr)

jetBlue A320's with a little something different

jetBlue A320-232 (c/n 3811) N779JB "Real Blue" now sports "2009 Champions" titles.

A320-232 (c/n 1557) N527JL "Blue Bayou" has recently returned to jetBlue after operating with the now defunct German airline Blue Wings as D-ANNE. The aircraft originally was N527JB "Midnight Blue".

Both aircraft are seen arriving at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on September 23, 2010.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Photo of the Day / Boeing 727-22C N231FL

(Photo by Jay Selman)

Boeing 727-22C (19205/438) N231FL operated by International Trading Co. of the Yukon is seen recently at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT/KCLT) in North Carolina. This series of 727 has become a very rare sight these days at local airports.

The aircraft was originaly delivered to United Airlines as N7430U on August 8, 1967. FedEx bought the aircraft on November 2, 1978 and operated it as N109FE "Tina Marie" until selling it to Kelowna Flightcraft Charter on February 9, 1994. The aircraft was re-registered as C-GKFZ and flew with the carrier until being sold to it's current owner on March 24, 2004 who re-registered it N231FL and immediatley leased it to Contract Air Cargo.

New G550 arrives in Long Beach

G550 (c/n 5297) N792GA (Flt "GLF54"), arrived from Savannah-Hiltonhead (SAV/KSAV) on Saturday September 18 at 12:23.

Brakes set in August 26 KSMF landing inncident

A JetBlue airliner apparently landed with its parking brake on when its main tires blew and caught fire at Sacramento International Airport last month, a federal safety agency said Wednesday.

Recorded flight data show the Airbus A320-232's parking brake was engaged during approach at an altitude of 5,100 feet and stayed on throughout the Aug. 26 landing, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary finding.

The NTSB said the twin-engine jet rapidly decelerated, the four tires on its main landing gear blew out, and a minor tire fire erupted.

The first officer was flying Flight 262 from Long Beach and the captain took over when the problem occurred and the tower reported sparks and smoke, the NTSB said. The captain brought the plane to a halt and ordered an emergency evacuation on the runway, the NTSB said.
Seven of the 86 passengers suffered minor injuries while using emergency slides. The two pilots and three flight attendants were unharmed.

The preliminary NTSB report said the airplane was examined by the airline and the Federal Aviation Administration, and the main gear tires showed evidence of being locked on touchdown.
The NTSB said neither pilot recalled any abnormal indications or warnings associated with the braking system prior to landing.

(Associated Press)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pam American Airways (Pan Am) may fly again.......on new TV show

Legendary airline Pan Am is once again taking to the air, via a pilot commitment at ABC. ABC is developing a 1960s-set drama circling the pilots and flight attendants who once made Pan Am the most glamorous way to fly.

Sony Pictures TV is behind the project, with "ER" alum Jack Orman attached to write and "The West Wing's" Thomas Schlamme on board to direct. Idea for the project came from producer Nancy Ganis, who was a Pan Am flight attendant 30 years ago.

Project reps one of two major commitments made at the end of last week by new ABC Entertainment prexy Paul Lee and his team. The Alphabet also landed Rene Echevarria's smallscreen take on the 1994 James Cameron feature "True Lies."

In the case of "Pan Am," Sony Pictures TV production president Zack Van Amburg said the idea came from a meeting he and fellow prexy, Jamie Erlicht, had with Ganis and her husband/production partner Sid Ganis.

When Nancy Ganis began spinning tales of historically relevant intrigue, sex and what it meant to be a flight attendant in the go-go days of flight travel, Van Amburg and Erlicht latched on to the idea.

"These were the world's ambassadors," Van Amburg said. "They were really interesting women at a time when a lot of things were happening, particularly for women in this country... and in terms for what Pan Am did for exporting American culture and importing the world, think about all the visuals of the Beatles landing at JFK on Pan Am."

"Pan Am" will take place in the mid-1960s -- the same era that Emmy-winning drama "Mad Men" chronicles. Without dwelling too much on that show, Van Amburg admitted that the critical acclaim behind "Mad Men" likely made it easier to pitch a period piece like this one.

"Absolutely 'Mad Men' made the period more acceptable," he said. "It's a template for that period. But I don't think we'd go out and imitate what 'Mad Men' does."

Before pitching the show, however, Sony and Ganis had to secure the rights to the Pan Am brand -- which wasn't easy.

The intellectual property for Pan Am (full name: Pan American World Airways) is owned by the privately-held Pan Am Systems, which is run by Mellon banking heir Timothy Mellon, as well as David Fink and son David A. Fink, among others.

The original Pan Am filed for bankruptcy and shut down in 1991; however, the name has been licensed to other small airlines since then. No plane has flown under the Pan Am name since 2008, however.

More recently, the Pan Am name and logo were used by designer Marc Jacobs for a line of hugely successful handbags and accessories.

Sony and Ganis had to wait until Jacobs' license to use the Pan Am name and logo expired before moving forward. The rights have now been fully licensed for the show, Van Amburg said.

"Nancy worked long and hard to convince them that TV was the next flight for Pan Am to take," he said.

Although he has no confirmation of this, Van Amburg said Pan Am's owners may see the TV show as an opportunity to relaunch the brand -- perhaps once again via flight.

"But that's all secondary to planning to make a great TV show," said Van Amburg, who noted that Schlamme "got the visual architecture of the show as well as the narrative."

"Tommy sees this as an incredibly patriotic show," Van Amburg said. "Jet travel was part of the exporting of American culture."

And in bringing on Orman, who wrote the "Matadors" pilot last season for Sony (where he now has an overall deal), Van Amburg said the scribe "got the possibilities of what 'Pan Am' could be and elevated all those anecdotes."

An excited Van Amburg, who called "Pan Am" "the most viable drama I've heard of or seen in a long time," said the show received interest from multiple networks but that ABC's Lee "moved mountains to make it happen."

As imagined by Orman and Schlamme, along with Nancy and Sid Ganis, "Pan Am" will focus on the flight attendants and their underlying secrets. One of the characters, for example, is recruited by the State Dept. into espionage -- something that actually happened in real life. Another character may hail from France.

Van Amburg said there's also a bit of wish fulfillment and an aspirational quality to "Pan Am," given how today's air travel is seen as pretty miserable by most travelers. In the 1960s, jet travel was still considered exotic, and something people dreamed of experiencing.

"Pan Am" will be based in New York, where the airline had a major hub. Show will also regularly use Miami and foreign cities as settings. Orman, Schlamme and Nancy Ganis are all exec producers, while Sid Ganis is co-exec producer.

(Michael Schneider - Variety)

25 years of the G-IV

On September 20th Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. recognized the 25th anniversary of the first flight of the Gulfstream IV, the best-selling large-cabin, long-range business jet in the world.

“The GIV was the aircraft that launched a thousand Gulfstream aircraft,” said Joe Lombardo, president, Gulfstream. “It formed the foundation for designing and building the G300, G400, G350 and G450. The aircraft’s first flight was a milestone and turning point for the company.”

Longtime Gulfstream employee Jim Gallagher, an acoustics engineer for the GIV program, said the aircraft revolutionized the industry. More than 520 of the 536 jets produced in the GIV series are still in operation.
“The GIV set a new standard for technology and, as it evolved, did the same for reliability,” said Gallagher, now director, Large and Mid-Cabin Sustaining program. “I believe it became very popular because it was on the leading edge of globalization. Halfway through its production run, the GIV became the preferred tool of global business-jet travelers because of its speed and range. There was no other aircraft that came close. Companies relied on it to travel worldwide; it helped push global commerce.”

On Sept. 19, 1985, three months ahead of schedule, the aircraft took off from Savannah International Airport, just eight days after it was rolled out at the business-jet manufacturer’s headquarters in Savannah. Lee Johnson and Ted Mendenhall were the pilot and copilot, respectively, for the one-hour flight.

The maiden flight was part of a race against time aimed at preparing the aircraft for the annual National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention in New Orleans, where it was one of the main attractions.

The GIV was popular with customers well before its first flight. More than 80 orders were taken while the aircraft was in development. At the time, the backlog of nearly $1.3 billion in orders was the biggest for a single aircraft in business-aviation history.

The first production GIV entered service June 8, 1987, after being certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on April 22, 1987. The GIV was designed to provide cost-effective, long-range transportation. For nearly two decades, the workhorse GIV was the long-range aircraft of choice for business-jet customers, including heads of state, private individuals, special missions and air charter companies worldwide.

The up-to19-passenger aircraft improved upon its predecessor, the Gulfstream III, by offering reduced noise and incorporating a larger fuselage and a lighter, more aerodynamic wing while improving the maximum range to 4,300 nautical miles (7,964 kilometers). It was the first business jet built with an all-glass cockpit, including state-of-the-art auto throttles, and offered a new concept at the time, a Flight Management System (FMS).

Powered by two Rolls-Royce Tay 611-8 engines, the GIV’s top speed is Mach 0.88 with a maximum takeoff weight of 73,200 pounds. It can reach an altitude of 45,000 feet.

The GIV, which featured the company’s trademark winglets established on the GIII, set numerous records for circumnavigating the globe, both east and west, including a January 1988 eastbound around-the-world trip in just under 37 hours.

As of today, the GIV series in-service fleet has accumulated more than 3.4 million hours of flight time and boasts a dispatch reliability rate of 99.93 percent. The other aircraft in the series are the GIV-SP (Special Performance), which features an updated landing package and range/payload improvements, and the C-20F/G/H military variants‎.

Ceremonies on Dec. 3, 2002, marked the conclusion of GIV-series aircraft production and the official start of production of two new variants — the G300 and G400. The last GIV entered service on Sept. 13, 2003.

In 2005, the G400 and G300 were replaced by the G450 and G350. On June 22, 2010, the 200th G450 obtained its Certificate of Airworthin

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New G550 takes flight

Turns onto Rwy 30 at 1012am for departure on a pre-delivery test flight.

G550 (c/n 5284) N584GA tbr TC-TTC returns to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) at 1546 following a successful pre-delivery test flight.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Iron Maidens Bruce Dickinson now airline Market Director

Gatwick-based Astraeus Airlines has appointed Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden's front man, as its new marketing director.

Dickinson, a qualified pilot, will start his new position at the charter airline with immediate effect, combining the role with his touring commitments with the heavy metal band.

Dickinson has a long-standing relationship with the airline and is a part-time captain for the company's 757 fleet.

The "addition to [the] senior management team of Bruce Dickinson as marketing director" was announced on the company blog by Mario Fulgoni, chief executive of the airline.

He said: "Many of you will know Bruce as the lead singer of the famous heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Some of you may not know that he is also an experienced professional pilot and flies with Astraeus as a Captain on our 757 fleet.

"I have worked with Bruce for a number of years now, in various capacities, and he is a very accomplished business promoter as well as pilot, so I am delighted he has agreed to join my team."

Also on the site, under Breaking News, the company said: "With the rapid growth in the business we have increased our commercial team, Bruce Dickinson as our marketing director, Claire Ronson has now moved to sales and marketing to support our sales team.

"Finally our product and planning is now covered by Seb Pelissier. Seb joins us from a catering and customer service background working with us previously as a supplier."

Dickinson's releases with Iron Maiden include 'The Flight of Icarus'. One of his new tasks with the airline will be to "expand the series of videos" the airline produces "that explain and promote the services" to Astraeus' clients.

Astraeus Airlines was the principle supplier of cargo and passenger carriage for Iron Maiden's 2008 'Somewhere Back in Time' tour. The tour covered 20 cities in 13 countries over a period of three months. The airline converted a Boeing 757-200 for the tour.

Dickinson, at the time, said: "As a professional pilot and a professional singer with Iron Maiden, there was no doubt that Astraeus Airlines were the people for the job.

"The reliability was superb, and the outcome exceeded the band's wildest expectations. A unique airline, for a unique experience. Astraeus Airlines made it happen."

Astraeus Airlines operates from Gatwick and Manchester and has a fleet of 11 planes.

(Mark Banham)

Aviation analyst says Southwest Airlines should buy bankrupt airline

Southwest Airlines should scoop up bankrupt Sun Country Airlines to buttress Southwest's growing presence in Minneapolis and boost its shares, an analyst wrote on Monday.

Buying Sun Country would also give Southwest access to some international routes, Stifel analyst Hunter Keay said.

Minnesota-based Sun Country filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2008. About 95 percent of its capacity flies to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, an area that Southwest has targeted for modest growth, Keay wrote.

Delta dominates Minneapolis airport, but assuming roughly half of Delta's traffic comes from passengers connecting to other flights, Southwest would gain a 5.2 percent share of the local market if it bought Sun Country, Keay said.

Even with the added gain, Southwest's market share in Minneapolis would still lag Delta's, Keay wrote, but buying Sun Country would still boost prices on routes flown to the 32 cities served by Southwest and Sun Country.

An acquisition could jump-start Southwest's shares, which have underperformed the broader Arca Airline Index this year. Southwest stock has risen 5 percent so far in 2010, while the Arca Airline Index has jumped 23 percent.

Sun Country reports its strongest results in the first quarter, when the carrier caters to people from Minnesota flying to a warmer climate, Keay wrote. The first quarter is Southwest's weakest.

If Southwest buys Sun Country, it would also gain 11 new destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, Keay wrote.

Dallas-based Southwest does not currently fly internationally, but in July, chief executive Gary Kelly said the carrier would decide this year whether it would fly routes abroad.

Prospects for the broader airline industry have brightened this year, helped by the merger of United Airlines' parent UAL and Continental Airlines. Experts say consolidation helps the industry trim excess capacity, which helps shore up air fares.

In 2009, Southwest tried to buy Frontier Airlines out of bankruptcy. Southwest was eventually beaten to it by Republic Airways.


Passengers and Crew pitch-in to sue over pitch-down

More than 70 passengers and crew who were aboard a Qantas A330 that suffered air data inertial reference unit spikes in October 2008 are suing Airbus and Northrop Grumman over the incident.

Attorney Floyd Wisner told Australian media Monday that he was representing 76 passengers and crew who were on QF Flight 72, which experienced two violent pitch-downs, forcing an emergency landing at Learmonth on the Western Australian coast.

Australia Transport Safety Bureau investigators are still baffled by the incident and have not issued the final report. ATSB preliminary data indicated the aircraft was cruising at 37,000 ft., climbed 200 ft. and then returned to 37,000 ft. About 1 min. later it pitched nose-down approximately 8.4 deg. and descended some 650 ft. in 20 sec. before returning to cruise altitude. Some 70 sec. later there was an additional 3.5-deg. nose-down pitch followed by a 400-ft. descent in 16 sec.

ATSB has said that exhaustive tests of the A330's malfunctioning ADIRUs proved inconclusive as has testing of individual modules of the unit. The ATSB found that the A330's primary ADIRU sent erroneous data (spikes) on many parameters to systems in the aircraft, including the primary flight computers, which resulted in the autopilot disconnecting and the two violent pitch-down events.

(Geoffery Thomas - ATWOnline News)

C-17A Delivered to McChord AFB

Taxies on "Lima" towards a Rwy 30 departure.

C-17A (P-202) 08-8202 "McChord AFB" holds short of Rwy 30 at "Lima1" as it prepares to depart on it's delivery flight.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Photo of the Day / Medallion Air MD-83

(Photo by James Mellon)

Medallion Air MD-83 (49396/1305) YR-HBE is captured taxing at London-Luton Airport (LTN/EGGW). The aircraft has operated for several carriers which include; Centinnial (EC-389, EC-FIX), Spanair "Sunflash" (EC-GNY), Norway Airlines (SE-DHB), Finnair (SE-DHB), Transwede Airways (SE-DHB) and Venus Airlines (SX-BFO).

Air Canada news at Orange County

Beginning October 1st, 2010, Air Canada will switch from the A319 to the ERJ-190-100IGW between John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) and Toronto - Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ/CYYZ).

Also commencing October 4, 2010, Air Canada Jetz will be operating sports charter flights for the "Anahiem Ducks" of the National Hocky League (NHL).


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Denver Air Connection (DAC)

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Just back from a quick trip to Denver where I attended the 2010 Great American Beer Festival (GABF). While there we took a drive up to Boulder, Colorado and stopped off at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (BJC/KBJC) better known as Denver (Bloomfield) / Jeffco to have a look around and happened upon this beauty. This Fairchild Metroliner SA227-DC (C26B) (c/n DC820B) N820DC is operated by Denver Air Connection and is a sister airline of Key Lime Air. The carrier which is based at Denver-Centinnial (Arapahoe) Airport (APA/KAPA) is a private charter company and operates under Part 135 of the FAA guidelines. Check out the carriers website for more info.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On the ramp at Milwaukee (MKE/KMKE)

In late July while attending Oshkosh "AirVenture 2010" I was lucky enough to have a ramp tour at Milwaukee-General Mitchell International Airport (MKE/KMKE). Good friends Dan Grimm and Mark Jung made this possible and I wish them both a sincere thank you. My guide for the afternoon was Airport Operations Coordinator Michael A. Casper and what a host he was, thanks for your time Michael it's always great to meet a fellow "hard core" aviation enthusiast, you are the man!

FedEx MD-10-10(F) (48260/344) N361FE just off the deck.

AirTran 717-231 (55084/5052) N919AT.

Frontier Airlines (Chautauqua Airlines), EMB-145LR (c/n 145305) N271SK the first 145 to sport the Frontier livery taxies for departure on 7R.

UPS MD-11(F) (48541/621) N284UP rests in the afternoon sun.

FedEx 727-277/ADV(F) (20979/1098) N241FE "Jill."
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Orange County John Wayne Airport celebrates 20th anniversary of Thomas F. Riley Terminal

Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 (27862/284) N730SW turns onto Rwy 19R, the Thomas F. Riley Terminal is in the background.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Today, September 16, 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Thomas F. Riley Terminal. Since 1990, more than 150 million passengers have passed through the Riley Terminal. The terminal building opened in 1990 and was named after Fifth District County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley, who was instrumental in negotiating the Settlement Agreement which allowed for additional facilities and operational capacity while establishing landmark environmental protections for the local community.


The airport began in 1923 when aviation pioneer Eddie Martin opened a flying school on land he leased from The Irvine Company. The County of Orange acquired the land in 1939 and the airfield became a public airport. In 1942 the federal government leased the Airport from the County for use during WWII. Regular airline service began with Bonanza Airlines in 1952, and in 1967 a new Terminal building was constructed and dedicated by then Governor Ronald Reagan. By the 1980s, the rise in commercial airline service moved the County to begin planning for additional commercial passenger facilities, resulting in construction of the Thomas F. Riley Terminal.

The Riley Terminal, which opened to the public on September 16, 1990, was designed as a single 337,000 square-foot, linear building divided by a steel-encased and glass architectural feature known as the ‘rotated square’. On either side of the ‘rotated square’ are two separate Terminals – A and B. When the Riley Terminal opened in 1990, the Airport was serving approximately 4.5 million passengers per year. Consistent with the terms of the 1985 Settlement Agreement, the Terminal was built to accommodate up to 8.4 million passengers annually.


As the Thomas F. Riley Terminal celebrates 20 years of service, John Wayne Airport is well into the construction of the Airport Improvement Program, which will bring a third terminal and 2,000 additional parking spaces to the Airport. Scheduled to open to the public in late 2011and in accordance with amendments to the Settlement Agreement, the new facilities are designed to accommodate 10.8 million passengers per year.
Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 (36623/2558) N916WN touches down on Rwy 19R as construction of the new third terminal is seen in the distance.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

In recognition of this milestone, JWA staff will be in the Terminal from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. greeting passengers and handing out small commemorative items.

(JWA Press Release)

First China Southern A380 takes shape

China Southern Airlines’ first A380 has been fitted with its impressive 122 m2 all composite vertical tail plane on September 14th 2010 at Airbus’ A380 Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, France.
It takes about eight hours to install the tail at station 40, the position where the A380 major sections including the wings are fitted together. The tail is almost equivalent to the size of an A320 wing and when joined to the fuselage its tip stands 24 metres from the ground.
China Southern Airlines will become a new A380 operator in 2011 and has a total order for five A380s.

(Airbus Media Release)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Southwest Airlines F/A Union approves addition of 737-8H4 to carriers fleet

Southwest Airlines and union flight attendants Wednesday announced a deal that partially clears the way to fly Boeing 737-800 jets. The carrier is still talking with union pilots.

Southwest announced last month that it was considering changing some of its 737-700 orders to larger 737-800s. Southwest now has 109 737-700s on order, although it also flies older 737 models.

Adding 737-800s, which seat 36 more passengers in a typical two-class layout than the 737-700, would require a fourth flight attendant on each flight and a deal with unions.

"When Southwest notified us last month of their intention to consider purchase of these larger aircraft, we immediately agreed to put negotiations on a faster track than required under our existing agreement, in order to help our members, our customers, and our employer take advantage of this potential opportunity," the Transport Workers Union Local 556 said in a news release. It said the resulting deal ensures the contractual pay raise tied to the airline's 2010 performance will be at least 2 percent, and includes company-paid training, the formation of a labor-management committee on work rule issues and a one-year contract extension.

Mike Van de Ven, Southwest's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the joint committee would work on the logistical details related to adding a fourth flight attendant on flights if the company decides to go ahead with the 737-800.

"The TWU negotiating committee quickly grasped the potential benefits along with the added operational complexities associated with adding the -800 to our fleet," Van de Ven said. "The fact that we can have these discussions over the course of a couple of meetings and quickly find a common ground that is a win for our company and our flight attendants is a testament to the collaboration and long-term vision of the Flight Attendants' Union Leadership."

The union's executive board has unanimously approved the tentative agreement, which will go to the union's 9,400 members for ratification by Dec. 1, in time for the order change. Van de Ven said the airline is still talking with union pilots and evaluating network and configuration options.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Boeing Plant 2 to be torn down

The dilapidated factory that helped make Seattle a high-tech town is being demolished after 75 years, a casualty of time, technology and tails that grew too tall.

Boeing Co.'s Plant 2, a sprawling but long outdated building between Boeing Field and south Seattle's Duwamish River, gave birth to some of the world's most significant aircraft. It was the site of Seattle's biggest disappearing act and a home to "Rosie the Riveter," women who built thousands of World War II planes.

It's also where the mostly unskilled workers of a fish-and-timber town first learned the art of assembling aluminum, engines and electronics into sophisticated flying machines.

As the danger of global conflict grew, Boeing opened the factory in 1936 to build the prototype for the B-17 Flying Fortress. Eventually, nearly 13,000 of the bombers would be built, half of them at Plant 2.

Later in the war, it was where Boeing developed the B-29, a revolutionary plane with advanced radios, radars and computer-aided machine guns, that dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"These were incredibly advanced pieces of engineering and they were being made by people who would spend those war years learning how to be essentially the high-tech workers of their day," says Leonard Garfield, executive director of Seattle's Museum of History and Industry. "So when we think about Seattle as a hotbed of high-tech innovation, it's not just from the recent years, it really can be traced very much to what happened in Plant 2."

Under an agreement with the state and federal governments and Indian tribes, Boeing will tear down the nearly empty factory to restore more than a half-mile of the Duwamish and create nearly 5 acres of wetlands. Demolition should begin this fall, Boeing spokeswoman Kathleen Spicer said.

Plant 2 is about a mile up upriver from Boeing's original Plant 1, a site sold decades ago.

The difference between the two was striking, Boeing corporate historian Mike Lombardi says. Plant 1 was a workshop where biplanes were stitched, glued and nailed together. Plant 2 was a modern assembly line, where metal parts fabricated in the back were transformed into aircraft as they inched toward the front doors.

Thousands of people — at one point nearly half of them women — worked at the plant during World War II, breaking barriers and requiring Boeing to adopt new ways of treating employees.

Eva Vassar was a wartime shipyard welder before being hired at Plant 2 in 1951 as a riveter and mechanic.

"Sometimes I would be the only woman in that area," she said, "but they enjoyed working with me because I carried my weight. I'm not just bragging, but I did the job just as well."

Joe Sutter got a summer job at Plant 2 in 1940 while studying aeronautical engineering at the University of Washington. After the war, he came back to Boeing, where he's known as the "father of the 747" for being the jumbo jet's chief engineer.

During World War II, "It was hectic because they needed many workers and they had three shifts going," Sutter recalled. "I worked the graveyard shift and you met all kinds of people — some people that were hard workers and others would find a boxcar to sleep in. It was pretty wild."

Plant 2 was so critical that Boeing camouflaged its roof with faux streets and houses of fabric and plywood, making it nearly vanish into nearby neighborhoods.

Beneath the plant, tunnels led to cafeterias, restrooms and classrooms, innovations to make life easier for workers and keep them close to their jobs.

In the late '40s, Plant 2 was where Boeing developed the B-47, the first large swept-wing jet, and the B-52 bomber, still in service with the Air Force after six decades. In the 1960s it turned out the initial 737, now Boeing's best-selling jetliner.

But the plant was headed toward obsolescence within 15 years after it opened. Though it had expanded from its original 60,000 square feet to more than 1.7 million, it was too small for modern aircraft. And the roof beams were just 35 feet high.

That was a problem — the tail of the prototype B-52 was 48 feet tall. Boeing's temporary fix was to put hinges on the early B-52s' vertical fins, Lombardi said.

Plant 2 was used as a machine shop into the 1980s, but emptied as that work shifted to bigger, more modern facilities. The plant is now overshadowed by Boeing's nearby complexes for military work, research, offices, flight testing and aircraft deliveries.

Parts of old factory are too dangerous to enter. Mark Calkins, head of facilities for the site, says Boeing has been reluctant to sink more money into the building, which leaks, has been damaged by earthquakes and where broken water mains sometimes flood the tunnels.

The huge production bays now store tools, vehicles and surplus office equipment, plus scattered piles of old computers and other castoffs. Boeing also provides temporary space for Museum of Flight volunteers restoring a B-17, a B-29 and a Lockheed Super Constellation airliner.

"I know it's got structural difficulties and it's probably a headache to maintain," Sutter says, but he'd like at least part of Plant 2 preserved to display such historic planes.

"It's just sad to see it go."

(George Tibbits- Associated Press)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blue1 MD-90-30 Tribute

MD-90-30 (53459/2141) OH-BLC "Lappajarvi" arrives in Helsinki-Vantaa (HEL/EFHK).
(Photo by Robbie Shaw)
MD-90-30 (53457/2138) OH-BLE "Jamijarvi" climbs away from London-Heathrow (LHR/EGLL). (Photo by James Mepsted)