Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 201,532
2013: 330,818

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UPDATED: Who Owns This Boeing 747-8 VIP? A Mystery at Paine Field

Mystery 747-8 VIP (VQ-BSK) parked at the fuel dock at the Boeing Factory in Everett. Photo Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com

Who does the newest Boeing 747-8 VIP seen at Paine Field belong to? I am not sure, but I have to say I love the livery.

As the 747-8 program continues to produce aircraft, the majority of these have been freighters (747-8F). Of the passenger variants (the 747-8 Intercontinental) only one airline has taken delivery of the type: Lufthansa. All the rest, with the longer upper decks (Freighter’s are shorter), have been sold as Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) to private buyers, or governments, marketed as the 747-8 VIP.

The First 747-8 VIP Departs Everett Bound for Vancouver. Photo David Parker Brown, Airline Reporter

The first delivery of a 747-8I was painted only in white. It was flown over the border to Vancouver, BC, then on to Wichita, Kansas before ending up at Lufthansa Technik in Germany for the rest of the interior installation. Even though there have been no official confirmations from Boeing or Qatar, it is widely assumed the aircraft belongs to the state of Qatar, who operates a fleet of diverse aircraft.

The 747-8 VIP painted for the State of Kuwait – Photo David Parker Brown, Airline Reporter

More recently, the first 747-8I unveiled, which was painted in the Sunrise Livery has been repainted and delivered its new owner. Once again, neither Boeing nor any government identity has confirmed it, but one can assume that this aircraft was for the State of Kuwait (see photo above and decide for yourself).

The Logo Adorning the tail of this Mystery 747-8 VIP – Photo Mal Muir, Airline Reporter

The newest Boeing 747-8 VIP came out of the paint hangar with a mysterious livery on December 1st. Rumors have flown about who might own this plane. Boeing Business Jet is not able to confirm who owns the aircraft, respecting the wishes of the customer.

However, the logo and registration number might provide some clues. The first VIP Intercontinental flew out with an A7 registration, which showed the plane was registered in Qatar. The newest aircraft is registered VQ-BSK. VQ is Bermuda based and not in Qatar, like A7. This adds to the mystery of the aircraft.

Also, most of the aircraft in the Qatar Amiri Fleet wear a very similar livery to Qatar Airways, which this plane obviously does not. The logo on the tail first struck me as something from the Middle East. After some additional research, I found, it is actually the logo for the “State of Qatar.”

Boeing 747SP (VP-BAT) which shares a very similar livery. Photo by Robin Kearney / Flickr CC.

Boeing 747SP (VP-BAT) which shares a very similar livery. Photo by Robin Kearney / Flickr CC.

Then you have the Boeing 747SP (VP-BAT), as seen above, in a very similar livery. This plane is also registered in Bermuda and is assumed to have belonged to Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, who was deposed at the ruler of Qatar in 1995, but returned in 2004.

Could this new 748 VIP be Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani’s new personal jet? Is this aircraft the first “official” 747-8 VIP of the Qatar Amiri Fleet with a new livery? Is it destined for the Amiri Fleet and registered in Bermuda for reasons unknown? Or is it destined to someone else affiliated with the state of Qatar?

It seems that the biggest game at Everett at the moment is: Who owns this 747-8 VIP and can I get a ride?

Story will continue to be updated. Thanks to Steven Frischling for additional background information.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Photos & Story: Japan Airlines Starts Boeing 787 Dreamliner Service to San Diego

JAL Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives to a water cannon salute in San Diego. Photo: Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

JAL Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives to a water cannon salute in San Diego. Photo: Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

On Sunday December 2nd, Japan Airlines (JAL) began its all new service to San Diego from Tokyo-Narita becoming the first 787 operator into the airport and first airline to offer non-stop service to Asia from the city.

“Flying directly into San Diego International Airport, which is conveniently located in the heart of the city, offers transpacific travelers a long-anticipated, efficient and time-saving option,” said JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki. “JAL is delighted to also be a new member of the San Diego community and to be the first to provide residents with a bridge to Tokyo-Narita and one stop connection to more than 15 destinations throughout Asia-a region of economical growth and development.”

The celebratory ribbon inside the terminal.

The celebratory ribbon inside the terminal. Photo: Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

JAL 66 came in for a smooth landing on-time at 09:50AM and was greeted with a water canon salute. This is the second US destination following the airline’s launch of Boston earlier this year. The service will begin with four times per week, connecting the two cities eventually going daily on March 1st 2013.

“We are very excited to bring the world’s newest airplane to the San Diego Region. The 787 is the reason that this route is happening today,” JAL President Yoshiharu also went on to say,

JAL will operate the flight with the all new Boeing 787 Dreamliner; they have it configured in a two class configuration of 42 Executive Class seats set up in a 2-2-2 layout, and 144 Economy Class seats in a 2-4-2 layout for an overall total of 186 seats onboard its aircraft.

JAL's 787 (JA827J) sits at SAN.

JAL’s 787 (JA827J) sits at SAN. Photo: Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

“Over the past few years, our bureau has worked closely in partnership with San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and other to expand international service into our destination,” stated Joe Terzi, President & CEO of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Key international markets like Japan represent an incredible opportunity for the continued growth of our region’s tourism industry, and this new Japan Airlines flight allows San Diego to become a stronger player in global tourism and business travel,” Terzi added.

This presents major growth for the San Diego region between Alaska Airlines new offerings and British Airways daily 777 service to London Heathrow Airport. Japan Airlines flight marks the eighth international destination to be offered to residents and the San Diego community are excited by the continued expansion of flights being offered.

ADDITIONAL JAL 787 DREAMLINER PHOTOS AT SAN DIEGO:
 

This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent. Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.

@BrandonsBlog | Right Stuff Photography | Flickr

Video: Air New Zealand’s Boeing 777 “Hobbit Jet” at LAX

CLICK THE IMAGE to view the Air New Zealand Hobbit 777 at LAX.

CLICK THE IMAGE to view the Air New Zealand Hobbit 777 at LAX.

On Monday, AirlineReporter.com posted a story with photos highlighting Air New Zealand’s special Hobbit themed plane. Today, we wanted to share a great video completed by SpeedBirdHD of ANZ’s Boeing 777-300ER (ZK-OKP) arriving and departing from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Interview with Thomas Lee – The Man Who Took the Inaugural Flights of the first 747-100, 787 and A380

Thomas Lee with Mr. Shinichiro Ito, the CEO of All Nippon Airways, while flying the inaugural 787 flight. Photo from Thomas Lee.

Thomas Lee with Mr. Shinichiro Ito, the CEO of All Nippon Airways, while flying the inaugural 787 flight. Photo from Thomas Lee.

AirlineReporter.com (AR): Who is Thomas Lee?
Thomas Lee (TL): I am a 60 year old businessman, originally from New York, who earned my Engineering degree from Tulane University and now reside in Orange County, California. I am married to Sally Glenn-Lee, who was President of the first class of flight attendants at Southwest Airlines and has worked her entire career in the airline industry, currently with jetBlue. I am father to Briana Lee, a 28 year old nurse and grandfather of Tatiana, an adorable 3 year old. I am Director of Marketing and Innovation in the Galleys and Equipment Segment of Zodiac Aerospace, a $4B entity with 26,000 employees globally. Every day, I work on developing the aircraft passenger cabin of the future and proudly have dozens of patents.

AR: What inaugural flights have you been on?
TL: I flew on the inaugural flight of the B747 in January 1970, a Pan Am flight from New York to London; the inaugural flight of the A380 in October 2007, a Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore to Sydney, Australia; the inaugural flight of the B787 in October 2011, an All Nippon Airways flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong and the inaugural US domestic B787 flight in November 2012, a United Airlines flight from Houston to Chicago.

AR: What is the allure of going on the inaugural flight of an aircraft?
TL: It is terribly exciting to be amongst the very first passengers to board a brand new aircraft type and experience the magic of flight in the latest aircraft technologies. One can decide for oneself whether new innovations have improved air travel. The atmosphere on these flights is electrifying. Aviation enthusiasts from around the world, airline management and the media all converge to join in the festive nature of each new aircraft launch. It is simply exhilarating.

Thomas' first inaugural flight was on this PanAm Boeing 747-100 named Victor Clipper (N736PA). Photo by Bob Garrard taken in 1973.

Thomas’ first inaugural flight was on this PanAm Boeing 747-100 named Victor Clipper (N736PA). Photo by Bob Garrard taken in 1973.

AR: What has been your favorite inaugural flight?
TL: My favorite would have to be the very first inaugural flight, that B747 in 1970. This was the first twin-aisle aircraft, so it was simply overwhelming boarding this behemoth when all past flight experiences had been on narrow body, single aisle planes. And it was no ordinary flight. After boarding the aircraft, every seat was filled and we taxied out for take-off. At nearly full take off speeds, there was a flame-out in engine #3 and the captain had to jam on the brakes aborting the take-off. The plane was rolled back to the gate.

Pan Am had fortunately received a second 747 just the day before from Boeing. It was parked in the hangar and was a completely green airplane with no preparation work done to get it ready for passenger service. To waste as much time as possible, Pan Am arranged for 5 extremely large Greyhound buses to pick us up at Kennedy Airport and take us to an Italian restaurant that they had completely taken over. We had a full sit-down dinner there and a long party waiting for that second aircraft to be prepped for flight.

By the time we got back to Kennedy Airport and boarded the second plane, so much time had elapsed that the first aircraft would have already landed in London. At least 30 passengers refused to board the aircraft, fearing something horrible would happen.

Another memorable part of that flight was that they didn’t have time in the rush to prepare the plane to transfer all the catering carts and equipment. So, the flight attendants laid out a buffet in the galley and we all lined up in the passenger aisles to make our way through the galley and pick up plates of food. What an amazing night.

By the way, that second plane was “Clipper Victor” which seven years later was involved in the worst aircraft accident in history. A KLM 747 at full take off speed, while trying to get airborne crashed into Pan Am’s Clipper Victor in Tenerife.

AR: All together, about how many miles have you flown?
TL: I would estimate that I have flown about 7.3 million miles in my life.

AR: When normally flying, what is your favorite aircraft type?
TL: I have been partial to the Boeing 777 aircraft from its inception. This was the first large commercial plane ever developed entirely on computers. The interior space feels great; the way it flies is extremely comfortable, etc. There has never been a fatal accident on a B777 which attests to its amazing design and engineering.

AR: What is your favorite airline?
TL: There are many great airlines in the world. Each creates its own brand based on that airlines “personality,” which is driven by their culture, style of service, menus, etc. It would be impossible to pick one and say it is the best.

977 - British Airways Concorde U.S. Launch Brochure. From Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.

1977 – British Airways Concorde U.S. Launch Brochure. From Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.

AR: What is the inaugural flight you missed and wish you made?
TL: The Concorde as this was the first supersonic passenger aircraft. I was privileged to fly the Concorde three times and found it fantastic to look out the window at 60,000 feet and see the blackness of space above and the curvature of the earth below.

AR: Why did you not go on the Lufthansa 747-8 inaugural?
TL: I typically like to focus on “first of aircraft type” inaugural flights. As the Lufthansa 747-8 was a “derivative” aircraft, I chose not to join this journey. Of course, that doesn’t make any inaugural less exciting, but I have elected to limit my experiences to those aircraft types making their maiden voyages.

AR: What is the next inaugural flight you are planning to make?
TL: I suspect the most likely next inaugural to attempt will be the Qatar A350.

This story written by…

David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder. David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube

Europe’s First 787 Dreamliner Goes to LOT Polish Airlines

LOT's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (SP-LRA) takes off from Paine Field. Image from LOT.

LOT’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (SP-LRA) takes off from Paine Field. Image from LOT.

Sure, we could talk about the massive delays and frustrating development process of the Boeing 787, but that will all soon fade into forgotten history as production ramps up and airlines across the world begin taking delivery of the next generation of passenger aircraft.

LOT Polish Airlines this month became the first European airline to take delivery of a new Dreamliner, with the first one landing at Warsaw’s Chopin Airport on Nov. 15 after a celebration ceremony at Boeing’s plant in Everett the day before.

BONUS: Behind the scenes look at the LOT delivery + interior shots

Marcin Pirog, CEO of LOT said, “This is a historic moment for LOT. I am convinced that the addition of the Dreamliner to the fleet of one of the world’s oldest airlines is a crucial moment that will launch a new era of European aviation. I believe it is also the beginning of an exciting journey for LOT with the most modern passenger airplane in the world.”

Photo taken Air to Air during the aircraft's first flight. Photo by Boeing.

Photo taken Air to Air during the aircraft’s first flight. Photo by Boeing.

This delivery is the first of eight Dreamliners that LOT has on order. The cabin is configured with 18 Elite Club seats (Business Class), 21 Premium Club seats (Premium Economy) and 213 seats in Economy Class. Rest assured, only top-notch flight attendants and crew will staff the Dreamliners, making the passenger experience, well, a dream.

LOT's 787 arrives at Warsaw to a water canon salute. Image from LOT.

LOT’s 787 (SP-LRA) arrives at Warsaw to a water canon salute. Image from LOT.

Want to experience a LOT Dreamliner? The first flight will begin on Dec. 14 from Warsaw to Prague. Flights will operate in the U.S. and Canada to Warsaw beginning Jan. 16 from Chicago, Feb. 1 from Toronto and Feb. 3 from New York City.  Over the next eight months, there are more European cities scheduled for Dreamliner short haul flights including Vienna, Munich, Frankfurt, Hanover, Kiev, Budapest and Brussels.

BONUS: Video of LOT’s 787 Dreamliner taking off from Paine Field

Let the new era of aviation in Europe begin!

ADDITIONAL LOT 787 DREAMLINER DELIVERY PHOTOS:

This story written by…Travis Griffith.Travis is a published author and professional writer who believes in driving fast, flying high and living today like there’s no tomorrow. Automobiles, aviation and travel top the long list of his varied interests.FaceBook | CarGurus | TSGriffith.com